I love reading the Word and seeing things that I’ve seen before. . .but have never really seen before.
Know what I mean?
Kelly Minter is one of those writers/speakers whose insights into the Scripture always leave me breathless. She sees hidden things tucked deep in the crevices of a passage that escape the notice of others. Then, she lays them out masterfully and beautifully, like the most bountiful buffet you’ve ever seen, for others to feast on.
Her guest blog post today is. . . a feast.
And it’s a message that we need to hear.
Read every word, ok? If you don’t have time to take it all in right now, just read what you can and then come back later. If each of us could really take this lesson to heart, our relationships, homes, ministries and entire lives would be so much better.
Thank you for teaching us, Kelly. We are grateful.
I wish I could begin with something nobler about my heart but sometimes I want to be a judge more than I want to be a deliverer. This realization came to me one morning while reading Scripture, you know, minding my own business—It’s just so strange how when you read the Bible God shows you stuff about yourself you weren’t necessarily looking for. I was on my living room couch reading Stephen’s speech of Israel’s history in Acts 7. I could see the little petunias spilling out of my window box on this serene morning; steam was swirling up from my coffee cup. In other words, I wasn’t looking to be convicted. But Stephen was apparently, like, whatever, and he stuck it to me at Moses’ part of the story.
Now, some of you remember Moses as the one who endured plagues, parted a sea and carried the Israelites on his back through the desert; you remember him as the great deliverer. But did you know he was a judge before that? I didn’t know this.
Before God visited Moses out of the burning bush—way before that—Moses saw an Egyptian and a Hebrew fighting. He looked a couple directions and then killed the Egyptian, buried him in the sand, and did it all in the name of protecting his fellowman. The next day Moses saw two Israelites quarreling, stepped in, after which one of them lashed out, “Who made your ruler and judge over us?” The answer is that Moses had made himself judge and this hardly ever goes over well. I’ve tried it a couple times. But our flesh is so prone to it. We like to draw our lines in the name of ‘righteousness’ and keep these people who we like and agree with ‘in’ and put those people who live contrary to our worldviews ‘out’. Life is so much more comfortable and safe when we can just lop people off, which is why judging feels so good. And at times, deceivingly, right.
So word had gotten out about Moses’ tiny, little killing and you know the story: he fled to a desert in Midian for forty years until the Lord appeared to him from a burning bush where He sent him back to rescue Israel from the hands of the Egyptians. At this point in the speech my coffee was still hot. I was still delighting in the flowers. And then somewhere in this bubble of Christian bliss, Acts 7:25 happened: “This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ He was sent to be their ruler anddeliverer.” Enter, revelation for me:
God had never called Moses to be a ruler who judged but one who delivered.
Apart from this being somewhat prickly for me, because I had to take an honest look at my heart, this is the greatest thing ever. Ever. God hadn’t sent an Old Testament judge to Israel; rather He’d sent a rescuer. He didn’t tell Moses to go bury a bunch of sinners in the sand. No, no, no. He sent him to liberate a nation. And this whole rescuer notion didn’t originate with Moses; it was God’s idea. Our merciful God’s idea. It was a plan that took forty years in a desert for God to work out in Moses, because going from being a self-appointed judge to a God-appointed deliverer takes some serious humbling.
I thought about a family I’d met who wasn’t living in what you’d call a biblical setup. I’d developed a friendship with them, but I realized that part of me cared more about them getting their lives ‘right’ than I did about investing in their souls. It would have been easy to leave them in the sand where they ‘deserved’ to be, because after all, they’d made all these wayward choices. But the Lord was speaking to me, dropping this family into my mind like a little Polaroid with Acts 7:25 scrawled on the white bottom half. Like Moses, God was sending me to be a deliverer, not a judge.
And then I really started thinking. . .
Judging is quick, clean and easy (kill, bury, walk away.) But when you’re a deliverer you’ve got plagues to face, Pharaohs to contend with, big seas you have no power to part. You’ve got to roll your sleeves up and sometimes water turns to blood and flies and frogs take over and the people you’re trying to rescue, curse you. Judging means you only have to consult yourself, while delivering means constant interaction with God—think of all the dialogues God and Moses had over the course of rescuing Israel. (Think of the amount of conversations Moses had with God when he killed the Egyptian: zero.) Judging takes five seconds and none of your heart will be required. Delivering will be ongoing and you’ll actually have to care. Judging makes us feel good about ourselves, but in a false, Pharisaical way. Rescuing people will always reveal how truly weak and incapable we are, requiring us to rely more wholly on the Lord—the way Moses did at the edge of the Red Sea while a host of chariots tore after him. The truth is, Moses only needed the strength of his hand to kill the Egyptian, but He’d need the power of God to part the Sea and deliver Israel.
I think my fleshly propensity to judge is often because rescuing people requires more than I want to sacrifice. When I bury someone under the sand of my judgment, they’re so much less of a hassle that way. But when the Lord says, look at that person; she needs rescuing, then my very being is required. This is true because judging moves us away from people while delivering draws us toward them. We might get inconvenient phone calls and someone might actually need us, but this is when our small sacrifices remind us of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The one who actually draws near to us as both Judge (John 5:22) and Deliverer (Mt 1:21). He’s the only one who can be trusted with both offices, the only one worthy of each. Because of Jesus, I wonder what would happen if we—His Bride —began moving toward our relatives, neighbors, enemies with a heart of deliverance instead of moving away from them in judgment. To humble ourselves before God, take those who need rescuing by the hand, stand beside them at the point of their need (and ours), and like Moses, say. . .
. . .See the salvation of the Lord. (Ex 14:13)