PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART XX

Is it comprehensible that God partnered with people who were not exactly model citizens? Most of the Old Testament saints may have lacked what it takes to lead in our world. The two most prominent leaders, were Moses and David. When the Lord called them to deliver and save Israel, they both tended sheep and goats. Then, according to the Apostle to the Gentiles, God chose to sent him to people who were of the lowest social order in the world.

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.’”

Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For consider your call brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. His is the source of you life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; therefore, as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:18-31).

The coming of God’s Son, into the world, did rally the elite to Jesus’ support. However, Jesus had to find the common and the simple men Himself from amongst the fishermen by the Sea of Galilee. It was simply inconceivable to the high and mighty leaders, of that day, that a prophet could come from Galilee (John 7:52). The humble disciples of Jesus also had problems understanding Jesus’ view of God and the role of Israel in the work of “Redemption.” The arrival of the Holy Spirit to proclaim Jesus Christ as the Savior, instead as the king of Israel, took some time to understand. Before Peter obeyed the Holy Spirit to go to Cornelius in Caesarea, the Holy Spirit took the disciples by

surprise when He prompted Stephen, Philip the deacon, and Barnabas, a cousin of Saul/Paul, to introduce the Risen Christ to the Jews in Jerusalem and to the Gentiles in Antioch. The first Christians, both Jews and Gentile, expected Jesus to be like Moses and the Holy Spirit like Yahweh and the Lord God Himself. For many new believers the Moses’ image of God has been retained into our time. We are surrounded by Christians, who like Moses, believe that God was and that God is behind the blessings and the curses, prosperity and poverty, and even life and death. In retrospect, Israel did pass through the valleys of hardships and even death! And Israel has been resurrected and reborn as Christians. The USA, along with other Christian nations, encounters similar woes! And the USA is in desperate need for a helping hand from heaven. But, will America, or any other people, pay the price? Will man bend to God’s Will and to the Law of God? God has always been merciful! But, will man repent? And will man become also merciful? In order to be forgiven, man must initiate forgiveness.

WHAT DID MOSES REALLY BELIEVE? WHAT GOD DID AND WHAT GOD WAS DOING?

God had chosen Abraham and God promised, in a Covenant, to make Abraham’s descendants into a huge nation, and give them a Law to guide them, so that they could become a people of God. Israel was warned that to break endlessly the agreement with God would terminate their existence. From here on in, man must decide for or against God. This dominated Moses’ concern in Deuteronomy chapters 27-31. Israel’s obedience or disobedience would determine their durability in the world. Man has a will and he can do as he wills. To Moses, God had the power to interfere and to coerce people to do so when necessary, as Yahweh had done with him. God had charge over both spirits: the good Spirit and the bad/evil spirit. God hardened the heart of Pharaoh (Exodus 4:21; 7:3; 14:17), and God punished Abimelech, governor of Israel, with an evil spirit (Judges 9:22-23), and an evil spirit, from the Lord, tormented King Saul (I Samuel 16:14-15).

I attend Church in the twenty first century AD; and people still use the language of Moses when something goes wrong. They think God is behind it with a purpose. Well, God is not hardening hearts, man does (Hebrews 4:7). God tempts no one, but humans beings do! And human beings desire what is off limits (James 1:13-15). God does not torture anyone, only Satan does (Luke 13:16; I Corinthians 12:7). God’s presence are not in power and in wealth! That power and that wealth distinction belongs to Satan (Matthew 4:8-9; Luke 4:5-7). Belial and Christ have nothing in common (II Corinthians 6:15). And neither does God and Mammon have nothing in common (Matthew 6:24). Jesus, like Moses, had a warning to all man. One does not drive out an evil spirit from the human spirit without replacing that empty chamber with a good spirit. Let us not be confused by new wine (new spirit) that tastes like the good old wine:

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and brings with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. So shall it be also with this evil generation (Matthew 12:43-45).

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, ‘The old is good’ (Luke 5:37-39).

There were some present at that very time who told Jesus of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the sacrifices. And Jesus answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

And Jesus told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down’” (Luke 13:1-9).

MOSES WAS A GOOD SHEPHERD AND HIS HEART BLED FOR HIS PEOPLE

Moses had spent forty years to cement the twelve plus tribes into a nation, but the fruit of unity and the faith in Yahweh was not as apparent as he had hoped. All of Moses’ work ended with the death of one whole generation, forty years younger than he was. On top of it, Moses had disqualified himself from finishing the work he was entrusted with and could not enter Canaan. When Israel finally arrived at the border of the promised land, Moses on Mount Ebal with the elders, made his last plea to his people.

Now Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, “Keep all the commandment which I command you this day. And on the day you pass over the Jordan to the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall set up large stones, and plaster them with plaster; and you shall write upon them all the words of this law, when you pass to enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you. And when you have passed over the Jordan, you shall set up these stones, concerning which I command you this day, on Mount Ebal, and you shall plaster them with plaster. And there you shall build an altar to the LORD your God, an altar of stones; you shall lift up no iron tool upon them. You shall build an altar to the LORD your God of unhewn stones; and you shall offer burnt offerings on it to the LORD your God; and you shall sacrifice peace offerings and shall eat there; and you shall rejoice before the LORD you God. And you shall write upon the stones all the words of this law ver painly.”

And Moses and the Levitical priests said to all Israel, “Keep silence and hear, O Israel: this day you have become the people of the LORD your God. You shall therefore obey the voice of the LORD your God, keeping his commandments and his statutes, which I command you this day.”

And Moses charged the people the same day, saying, “When you have passed over the Jordan, these shall stand upon Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. And these shall stand upon Mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan and Naphtali. And the Levites shall declare to all the men of Israel with a loud voice:

“‘Cursed be the man who makes a graven or molten image, an abomination to the LORD, a thing made by the hand of a craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed be he who dishonors his father or his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed be he who removes his neighbor’s landmark.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed be he who misleads a blind man on the road.’ And all the People shall say, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed be he who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed be he who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered her who is his father’s.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed be he who lies with his sister, whether the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed be he who lies with his mother-in-law.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed be he who slays his neighbor in secret.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed be he who takes a bribe to saly an innocent person,’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed be he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen’” (Deuteronomy 27:1-26).

MOSES CALLED FOR A DAILY AFFIRMATION AND RECOMMITMENT TO THE COVENANT

Affirmation and commitment was a daily exercise in the life of a Jew. When he/she recited or chanted the blessings and curses they were reminded that the Law was a two-edged sword. The Law stood between life and death. Obedience to the Law was obedience to Yahweh and it ensued blessings and a prosperous life. Disobedience invoked the wrath of the Law and sentenced man with curses, that end in death (Deuteronomy 28). Moses had severe precocious for his people who had fluctuate in their obedience to Yahweh’s Law, while he was with them. Moses had reason to be apprehensive about Israel future:

Beware lest there be among you a man or a woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away this day from the LORD your God to go and serve the gods of those nations; lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This would lead to the sweeping away of most and dry alike. The LORD would not pardon him, but rather the anger of the LORD and his jealousy would smoke against that man, and the cursed written in this book would settle upon him, and the LORD would blot out his name from under heaven. And the LORD would single him out from all the tribes of Israel for calamity, in accordance with all the curses of the covenant written in this book of the law. And the generation to come, your children who rise up after you and the foreigner who comes from a far land, would say, when they see the afflictions of that land and the sicknesses with which the LORD has made it sick—the whole land brimstone and salt, and a burnt-out waste, unsown, and growing nothing, where no grass can sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger and wrath—yea, all the nations would say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this great land? What means the heat of this great anger?’ Then men would say, ‘It is because they forsook the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods who they had not known and whom he had not allotted to them; therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, brining upon it all the curses written in this book; and the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger and fury and great wrath, and cast them into another land, as at this day’ (Deuteronomy 29:18-28).

GOD IS FORGIVING TO STRAYS WHO RETURN TO HIM

Moses’ spirit had a preview of Israel’s failures to maintain the Covenant with Yahweh. God’s door of mercy would never closed on Israelites who would come back to the God of their fathers.

And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I (Yahweh) have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God has driven you, and return to the LORD your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you this day, with all your heart ad with all your soul; then the LORD your god will restore your fortunes, and have compassion upon you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will fetch you; and the LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, that you may possess it; and he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that  you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and will all your soul, that you may live. And the LORD our God will put all these curses upon your foes and enemies who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the voice of the LORD, and keep all his commandments which I command you this day. The LORD your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all your work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your ground; for the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 30:1-10).