I want to be Moses.
Admittedly, there are a few impediments: Moses is another person; he is no longer alive; he was male — even in today’s remarkably tolerant societal structure these are factors of consideration.
But no. I want to be Moses because he was God’s friend. He talked to, sometimes talked back at, God; was free to express his misgivings, doubts, and frustrations; and he lived a really long time in really good shape. He got angry now and then; anybody who has ever felt bad about snapping at someone else in a temper might want to conjure up the image of Moses hurling the stones with the 10 commandments to the ground. Makes a broken coffee mug look minor.
And despite all this, God delighted in him.
If I can’t be Moses, I will gladly settle for Joshua or Caleb, the only two men in their generation who lived through wandering in the desert, because they were the only two out of 600,000-plus warriors who said, “Yes! We can do this, because God says we can.”
Same problem though: another person, no longer alive, male.
But I suppose it’s more of the concept of the thing, and one of my problems is that I aim too low. Most of us do.
Crunch the numbers here: 600,000 warriors, add women and children, what are we coming up with — several million people? And the main thing we hear about these several million people is that 1) They don’t want to talk to God personally but would prefer that Moses do it and 2) They’re not particularly known for their strong, individual spirituality.
This sounds like contemporary Christianity, which encourages followers to look to the pulpit for weekly teaching, rounding out any gaps with a small group study or workbook-led Bible study time telling them what the words on the page are saying. I flipped through a book the other day, written by a notable Christian author whose name on the book’s cover is bigger than the title, who (paraphrased) said,
“Commentaries are vital to understanding the Bible. Do not think of studying the Bible without a commentary at your side.”
Perhaps it would be better if he had ended the sentence with, “Do not think.”
Granted, the Book gets a little complicated, but it has been conveniently (and at the cost of many lives) translated into English, Spanish, French, Norwegian — quite a few languages of choice — and we read complicated books in whatever language we speak all the time. Millions of readers of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice derive great enjoyment from the author’s wisdom, and they pass on what they’ve learned to others. Most of them manage just fine without workbook sheets and study guides. That they do not understand every single word which Jane wrote does not prevent them from enjoying what they do. And I don’t think that they’re particularly open to the concept that only professorial types are qualified to speak on and about Jane.
Millions of Israelites were content to let Moses speak to God for them. Millions of Christians underestimate their ability to speak to, question, walk with, understand, and love God, without the proddings and instruction of a leader, a study guide, a DVD, or a facilitator. In their concern to avoid getting something “wrong,” intelligent people rely upon others to interpret truth for them, intrinsically believing that these people must be interpreting everything “right.” Who needs the Holy Spirit when we have Ph.D.s?
And while these leaders are presumably more qualified than the rest of us because they have purportedly studied the intricacies of Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic and Latin (don’t bet on it), this doesn’t give us excuse to hand over the reins of our learning about, interacting with, and walking beside God to a third person party. Others, “experts” or not, can be a part of the process, if we so choose, but our walk with God is just that — our individual and unique walk with God.
So why can’t I, or you, be Moses? He was God’s friend.
Same God, interacting with a different person. I’m sure if we ask Him, He’ll respond.
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