By Ron Courter (Excerpt from Article Originally Printed April 15, 1976)
Hebrews 3:5 puts the above words as a proper description of the man Moses. When you travel through the wilderness with Israel you begin to understand why. You don’t understand the strength behind the word “faithful,” until you start to walk the desert with Moses and listen to all the foul complaints that were cast his way. You don’t understand the appreciation God has for a faithful person, unto you think of a man willing to trust in an invisible army to overcome the horse and the chariot. The word “faithful” never comes alive, until you are faced with the recognition of making a choice that consciously puts you into a position of being unfavorable. Yes, Moses was faithful. WHY? His life reveals that all of the above were faced; and still he was willing to care for God’s people. Moses was a leader, a shepherd, a man of anger and compassion, but most of all he was faithful.
Primary in the keys that unlock the faithful life is the key of choice. People, who are faithful in God’s word are always people who were willing to make a choice. Choosing in the life of the faithful is making a decision when there are different avenues before you and you have the ability to determine which way you will go. It is amazing how many people exist for years of their life and never make a decision. Moses was faithful, because he made a choice for God. May we well remember, we cannot be faithful without making a choice.
It is no accident that Moses understood the need for choice in life. He evidently understood the subject of choosing, because he had parents who lived a life of choosing what they understood to be right, in spite of royal orders (Hebrews 11:23). We cannot raise a young, faithful generation of warriors for the Lord without teaching them that faithfulness to the Lord involves choices that are sometime unpleasant. We try it a lot today, but it won’t work. Even the psychologist says a child needs to know where he stands and not be over laden with vague teachings of right and wrong. Does this mean we have forgotten the word compassion? Certainly not. Compassion for the mindless masses of today is what moves us to cry out what is right and what is wrong. Remember the words of Paul, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…”(2 Corinthians 5:10).”
Hebrews says, “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God…” See chapter 11. Moses chose to stand with the people of God. This wasn’t a national choice, because Israel was not a recognized nation at that moment. It was a spiritual choice. He chose affliction in contrast to prestige and riches. He met wrath that was imminent with no physical means of counter acting it but by faith in the unearthly. The word “chose” in this passage means to take for one’s self. He took the burdens by choice. My what a contrast to a generation of Christians always looking for the easy way to have a comfortable faith. Shepherds fight the fire- hirelings check the wind.
He Had Vision
Faithfulness is never unlocked in those who cannot see beyond the apparent. Moses had an awareness of truth being everlasting and that the treasures of today will never be the treasures of tomorrow. He respected the rewards of spirituality beyond the rewards of the flesh. One is amazed how the things of this world are able to blind men. The love of the old way, the confusion spread by the confused, and the security of “now” bringeth stumbling (2 Corinthians 3:14; 4:4; Ephesians 4:18). Moses could only see heaven in the desert. He could only hear the angelic praises of God in the midst of the murmuring. He knew you only see the glory of God in heaven (Acts 7:55).
Why will men with relatively large incomes, cheat and lie to obtain another ten thousand dollars? Why will people destroy their homes to obtain another one hundred dollars per week? Why will men act without principle and with shame to secure their little circle? They have no vision of the reward. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish, but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”
Moses was faithful because he had vision. Furthermore, he had vision because he was faithful. What is faith? The Hebrews writer answers in Hebrews 11:1 and then goes on to translate it into living. The frustrations of Moses would have erased most men’s vision. Still day after day and year after year he saw beyond the frustrations and faced them with the vision supplied only from heaven. We find only one time in his anger that his words expressed a lack of faith in God’s ability to take the people of Israel to the promise (Numbers 20:10; Numbers 27:14; Psalms 106:32,33). Yet he had enough discernment of his own heart and of the righteousness of God to not writhe against the word of God. Yes, he had vision. How are we going to claim faithfulness with the manifested impoverished vision we see around us today? We cannot see what we will not look at, we cannot find what we will not seek, and our faithfulness cannot go beyond our vision.
He Cared For Others
Faithfulness is not a characteristic of the self-centered. Selfishness tends to dominate what is best and therefore the needed decisions and labor that goes with the best is never done. Moses’ care for the people and his vision were ever wed together. We doubt there is a more striking example of this, than the words of Numbers 12-23. Death was on the threshold for Moses and he is to only cast a glance into the land he had led the people toward for one-third of his life. He mingles no words with God in intercession for himself, like he did so often for the people. Reread the historic example of intercession by Moses in Exodus 32:9-14. Oh, how he cared for Israel. God promised Moses no harm, but this did not satisfy Moses, if Israel was going to die. How often today, when the winds of persecution come against one, others say, “Have to it, just as long as it doesn’t mean my skin.” Not Moses, he did care for others.
Moses pushed the thought of death aside and said, “…set a man over the congregation.” He did not want the flock scattered, he wanted them to make the land of promise, even though he wasn’t going with them. His concern was not his name in history, but his concern was to watch for the people. Today, the disposition that Moses manifested, has died more than Moses ever will. What a lovely illustration of Hebrews 13:17. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Moses always watched and he always saw what the flock could not see. Remember that time in Numbers 16:46-47 how he prevented death in the flock with his order for haste to Aaron?
The preservation and care of the future of the Israelites is seen thundering before us in the simple act of the laying on of hands in verse 18 of the 27th chapter of Numbers. Moses’ honor was manifest upon Joshua for the people to see the shepherd of tomorrow. There is a stinging echo that comes out of this scene, when we recognize the lack of fellowship among saints today to prepare for tomorrow. Again, we have another lovely illustration to aid us in understanding the laying on of hands in the New Testament. Love for others and the vision that results from such love is the ultimate experience and growth in life.
Moses was faithful in all his house. He was willing to make a choice that did not insure the easiest life, but it was the best life. Will You? He was so conscious of the fruits of eternity, he would not permit the fruits of earth to distract him. Will You? He was so aware that life involves caring for others, that he would not permit selfish considerations from stopping him in what was right. Will You? If so, you too can be faithful in all your house. Yes, “And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.” Was this to be Moses greatest tribute? No. “And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom: for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.” Here is the tribute of a leader.