Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 26 May 2022:
Chapter 27 has much to teach us about the heart of a real leader. Below are just a couple of points for consideration:
Numbers 27:14-17 — “You also shall be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, because you rebelled against my word in the wilderness of Zin when the congregation quarreled, failing to uphold me as holy at the waters before their eyes…. Moses said to the LORD, ‘May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”
Moses had the heart of a true leader. He had just been told by the Lord that it was his time to die — he would not lead the people into the Promised Land because Moses had failed. Moses didn’t complain, blame-shift or defend himself before the Lord. Rather, Moses’ immediate concern was for the people and their welfare. Moses asked God to provide the people with a leader who would ‘shepherd’ them because Moses had the heart of a shepherd. As someone once said, “If you can’t stand the smell of sheep, you can’t be a shepherd.” These people were hard to lead, constantly drifting into sinful, destructive practices, often rebelling against Moses himself, even threatening his life more than once. In fact, as today’s verses point out, it was the quarrelling of the congregation that incited Moses to temporarily lose his temper and dishonor God. Yet Moses remained committed to them. There aren’t many leaders like Moses. Of course, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) Despite our infidelity, Jesus remains faithful. It is His leadership we seek to emulate.
Numbers 27:18 — “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.”
Joshua was God’s choice to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land; Moses didn’t choose Joshua, God did. Joshua was uniquely qualified for the job. First and foremost, he was filled with the Spirit. True leaders are led by the Spirit and lead by the Spirit for God’s glory. So, true leaders are followers, guided by the Spirit. And true leaders are always leading others closer to Jesus as their ministry of reconciliation. Someone once said, “Leaders know the way and show the way.” Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17)
Of note, Joshua’s name means, “The Lord is Salvation,” and is the Hebrew version of “Jesus.”
Joshua was a man of great experience, character, competence and commitment. For 40 years Joshua served as Moses’ faithful aide, commanded the Israelites’ victory over Amalek, and was one of the two spies (Caleb the other) that encouraged the Israelites to enter the Promised Land in faith, despite the strength of their enemies. He served the Lord wholeheartedly and was a great example to others.
People and nations need mighty, faithful leaders such as Joshua who are led by the Spirit and equipped with character and competence. Who are the Joshuas of today?
Numbers 27:18 — So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.”
“Theologians sometimes refer to the new covenant as the age of the Spirit, and rightly so, for the Holy Spirit has been poured out abundantly on the people of God in this administration of the Lord’s covenant of grace (Acts 2:1–41). That we live in the age of the Spirit, however, does not mean that the third person of the Trinity did not work among the people of God under the old covenant. Indeed, He was active, though not in precisely the same way as He is today.
Clearly, the Holy Spirit has always been the agent who regenerates people. Jesus expected Nicodemus to understand this truth, as he was a teacher of old covenant Israel (John 3:1–15). God’s Spirit gave old covenant believers the faith they needed to trust in His promises, just as He gives new covenant believers faith today to entrust themselves to the fulfillment of these promises in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:8).
At the same time, even though all old covenant believers experienced the Spirit’s work of regeneration, it also appears that not all old covenant believers enjoyed the same kind of gifting and power evident in the new covenant. In today’s passage, for example, Joshua is said to be a man “in whom is the Spirit” (Num. 27:18). This designation is given to a select few in the Old Testament, usually the leaders of Israel (see, for example, Gen. 41:38; 1 Sam. 16:13). But now, on the other hand, even believers without a leadership role in the church have the Spirit in His fullness (Rom. 5:5). Messiah Jesus baptizes all of His people “with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt. 3:11).
It is difficult to describe precisely how our richer experience of the Spirit today compares to how old covenant believers enjoyed Him, especially since we all get discouraged and sometimes feel as if the Holy Spirit is far from us. Still, there is plenty of evidence that shows the Spirit is working more powerfully in the present age than He did during the old covenant. Perhaps the greatest proof for this is the ingathering of the Gentile nations. For all the problems the church has faced throughout the ages and even now endures, it is indeed serving as a light to the nations in a way that old covenant Israel never did. By the drawing of the Spirit through the witness of the church, even the non-Israelite nations are coming to faith in the God of Israel (Acts 15:1–11).
The church of Jesus Christ is not without its blemishes, and there is much for which we all need to be in repentance. Yet it is also plain that God has granted to the new covenant church a measure of the Spirit that the old covenant church never enjoyed, for the church is being filled with people from every background. Let us thank the Lord for this work of His Spirit and pray that He would use us to extend His kingdom.” (Ligonier Ministries)
1 Corinthians 16:9 – …for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
Open doors of service may also let in adversaries. Paul had many of both. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians from Ephesus, he was trying to determine where to go next. He chose to remain longer in Ephesus because of the open doors of service God granted him. Knowing that God had opened the doors of ministry, Paul was not going to leave, regardless of how many enemies he faced. We might assume that Paul would reach the opposite conclusion. In light of the opposition he faced, he could have concluded that it was best to serve in less hostile regions. Instead, Paul based his decisions on God’s activity rather than on what people were doing.
As you respond to God’s invitations, don’t be caught by surprise when adversaries try to thwart what you are doing. If you concentrate on your opponents, you will be sidetracked from God’s activity. Don’t base your decisions on what people are doing. They cannot prevent you from carrying out God’s will (Rom. 8:31). Many times the most rewarding spiritual work is done in the crucible of persecution and opposition. While Paul was in Ephesus, a riot broke out in reaction to his ministry. The city theater resounded with an angry mob who shouted for two hours in support of their god, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:23-41). Despite this fierce rejection of the gospel, Ephesus became one of the chief cities from which the gospel spread throughout Asia.
It takes spiritual discernment to see beyond human activity to God’s will. As you seek places of service, look beyond what people are saying to find what God is doing.
1 Corinthians 16:13, 14 — Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
We have too many weak-willed Christians who act defeated, as if they haven’t been commissioned and empowered with the Holy Spirit by the Almighty Sovereign Lord who has already won the victory and called His perfectly loved and protected children to join Him in what He is doing to restore all things to Himself for His glory. “Stand firm, act like men, be strong!” Be strong and courageous: https://www.openbible.info/topics/fear_not
If someone were to ask you to give an example of heroic strength and courage, what would your example be? The Bible says ultimate strength and courage is revealed by genuine love. Genuine love trumps everything else.
Paul said, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing…. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13)
As has been mentioned previously, genuine love is more amazing than prophetic powers, the ability to do miraculous things, or the willingness to sacrifice everything for a cause. Genuine love is truly incredible, even miraculous. It is not natural; it is supernatural, the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), the power of God revealed. The Bible says, “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us…. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit…. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:12, 13, 16)
God’s greatest command for you is love. And to be clear, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48) God calls you to a radical love which unconditionally loves those who are unloving so that God would be glorified and that you would have the opportunity to fellowship with Christ in his sufferings of love. (Philippians 3:10)
When Jesus commanded you to this radical love for those who don’t “deserve” it, don’t appreciate it, and who will likely continue to hurt you, He certainly understood the cost of that daily sacrifice –
- Romans 5:8 — …but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
- John 13:14-15 — If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
- Luke 23:34 — And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
- Luke 9:23 — If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
- Luke 10:3 — Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.
- Matthew 5:39 — But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
- 1 Peter 3:9 — Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
- Romans 12:21 — Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- Matthew 5:10 — Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Romans 12:14 — Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them….
- 2 Timothy 3:12 — Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
God has indwelt you with His Spirit and empowered you supernaturally with the strength to love with genuine love; and you can have courage in the love and promises of God – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (Romans 8:35) Do you have the strength and courage to obey God’s greatest command for you of love? “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) What does the Bible say? “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
1 Corinthians 16 — Paul was committed to relationships and cared deeply about his many friends, encouraging all to support one another and to look out for each other. Relationships come first in the life of a Christian.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 26 May 22: Love those you know who are hardest to love, make it your aim. Don’t try to do this in your own strength. Pray and rely on the Holy Spirit. Remember, that person who is so offensive to you is so valuable to The Father, He sent His one and only Son to be crucified on the cross that he might believe and have eternal life.