Deuteronomy 33-34, Acts 5
We must obey God rather than men. – Deuteronomy 34:29 ESV
Moses was a man, a flawed and sometimes fault-filled man. But he was God's man. Throughout his tenure as God's appointed leader of the people of Israel, Moses tried to live in obedience to God. He attempted to faithfully carry out God's will, in spite of his own feelings of inadequacies and the people's stubborn refusal to obey. It isn't easy to find examples of this man's faults and failings. There were times when he got frustrated and even angry with God. He often became exasperated with the very people he had been called to lead, and at times wished he could walk away from the job. But there are just as many examples of his faithful leadership and his loving intercession to God on behalf of a stiff necked people. We know that Moses was not perfect because God refused to allow him to enter into the land of promise. Instead, he died in the land of Moab, and was buried by God Himself. He was 120 years old when he died, and “his eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated” (Deuteronomy 34:7 ESV). Moses was an incredible man, but a man nonetheless. He is an example of what it means to follow the Lord and to know God face to face. He had an intimate, personal relationship with the living God of the universe. He was used by God because he remained useable to God. He was willing to do whatever God called him to do. Yes, sometimes he exhibited reluctance and even reticence. But eventually he always overcame his fears and apprehensions, doing whatever God had called Him to do.
What does this passage reveal about God?
God works through men. He chooses to reveal His extraordinary power through the means of ordinary men and women. Moses was not chosen by God because he had any special qualities or characteristics that set him apart. God used him in spite of his faults. Moses was actually a murderer with a bounty on his head, but God chose to use him to set the people of Israel free from captivity in Egypt and to lead them to the land of promise in Canaan. In the New Testament, we see God using a group of men to spread the message of Christ's death and resurrection to the world. These were ordinary men who brought nothing to the table except their belief in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. After the resurrection of Jesus, God would fill these men with His Holy Spirit and empower them to do signs and wonders in the midst of the people of Israel, just as Moses had done. Like Moses, they would become spokesmen for God, speaking on His behalf and exhibiting His power and presence through their own lives and ministries.
God is not obligated to use men. He could just as easily accomplish His mission without the help of men or women, but He has chosen to use us. Just as in the days of Moses, God wants to exhibit His power and presence through the lives of ordinary men and women in order to show the world what a right relationship between He and His human creation should look like. When we live in obedience to His will and empowered by His Spirit, we become living, breathing witnesses to the world of the reality and life-changing power of God. The world gets to see God in us. His presence becomes tangible and highly practical.
What does this passage reveal about man?
When the apostles faithfully ministered as Jesus had commanded them to do, they quickly found themselves in trouble with the Jewish religious authorities. In fact, it wasn't long before they were arrested and thrown in jail. They had been teaching, preaching, healing and proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. Thousands of people were hearing and accepting the message regarding salvation through Christ alone. “And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (Acts 5:14 ESV). These ordinary men were making an extraordinary impact on the world. And even when they found themselves locked in a jail cell, God would use their circumstance to reveal His power. He sent an angel to release them and commanded them to “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20 ESV). And they obeyed. The high priest had them re-arrested and brought before him. He confronted them saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us” (Acts 5:28 ESV).
Confronted by this powerful religious leader who had played a role in the death of Jesus, Peter and the apostles didn't bat an eye. Rather than back down and give in to his threats, they remained faithful to their calling. “We must obey God rather than men,” Peter responded. They would not give in or give up. Even when they were beaten and warned again not to speak in the name of Jesus, Luke records that they left “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:41 ESV). These ordinary men, filled with the Spirit of God, would go on to do extraordinary things for God. “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42 ESV).
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
There is no limit to what God can accomplish through the man or woman who is willing to be used by Him. Our usefulness to God has nothing to do with our own abilities, talents, or strengths. God is not obligated to use us or somehow dependent upon our abilities to accomplish His will. Like the apostle Paul, we often find ourselves weak and ill-equipped to do what God has called us to do, but we quickly learn as he did, that God's grace is sufficient. “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV). I don't have to be strong. I don't have to be smart. I don't have to have my act together or bring a special array of talents to the table. I simply must be willing and ready to be used by God. It is the recognition of my own insufficiency and weakness that makes me useable by God. When I realize just how much I need Him, I am much more likely to be used by Him. What the world needs to see are more men and women of God who are empowered by God and being used by Him to accomplish His will in His power through their lives.
Father, I want to be a man of God, who knows You face to face and relies on Your power and presence in my life to accomplish the unimaginable and inexplicable, so that they world my truly know You exist. Amen