"And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment" (1 Chronicles 12:32). This is our greatest need today: Men who know the unchanging truth of God's Word and know how to communicate that truth through the changing tides of human conventions. I present for your consideration two men who understood their times and knew what to do.
"By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of trie reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them" (Hebrews 11:22-28). Two of the most fascinating heroes of faith highlighted in Hebrews 11 are these two men, Joseph and Moses. Their references are placed here together. Moses dominates the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Joseph is the central figure of Genesis 37-50, a portion of Scripture equal to that given to Abraham. Joseph and Moses stand as two pillars supporting the time of the Israelites in Egypt; one stands at the beginning and one at the end.
Notice first of all their lives in COMPARISON:1. Both men experienced the prestige of Egyptian royalty. Both men knew firsthand the glory of Pharaoh's house.Notice second of all, their lives in CONTRAST:
2. Both men endured persecution and rejection by their own brethren.
3. Both men suffered through places of deep disappointment; for Joseph it was the prison; for Moses it was the desert.
4. Both men demonstrated faithful persistence in laboring where they were; Joseph became prison steward; Moses kept his father-in-law's sheep.
5. Both men rejected the pleasures of sin by choosing to serve God; Joseph fled from Potiphar's wife; Moses fled from Egypt.
6. Both men illustrate pictures of Christ. Joseph: the Father's favorite, rejected by his brethren, betrayed tor a price, successfully endured temptation, suffered terrible injustices, became a Deliverer and was ultimately exalted above all others. Moses: the Shepherd of Israel, was endangered at birth, laid aside royalty for the work of redemption, performed great miracles, and led his people in a great exodus from bondage. These, and other pictures, are vivid types of the Lord Jesus Christ.1. Joseph received Egyptian royalty in the latter years of his life; Moses received royalty in the early years of his life.Notice third of all, some spiritual lessons from their lives in CONCLUSION:
2. Joseph brought Israel into Egypt; Moses brought Israel out of Egypt
3. Joseph heard God speak in dreams; Moses heard God speak directly.
4. Joseph delivered Egyptians through a famine; Moses destroyed Egyptians in a flood.
5. Joseph prophesied Israel's departure; Moses performed Israel's departure.
6. Joseph served God by living in Egypt; Moses served God by leaving Egypt
1. Some things are always right. Some things are always wrong. It is always right to serve God wherever He places you; it is always right to obey God's revealed will; it is always right to keep yourself pure; it is always right to help God's people and others as you have opportunity; it is always right to witness and work for God. It is always wrong to disobey God; it is always wrong to become entangled with the world; it is always wrong to put self ahead of others; it is always wrong to forget about Divine priorities and prerogatives.
2. Some things that are rightjor others may not be right for you. Some things that are wrong for others may nofbe wrong for you. This is a most difficult area; and if it were not a Biblical principle, I would surely avoid the controversy it engenders. This is not "situational ethics." This is not "compromise." This is not "Laodicean Christianity." This is spiritual discernment. Moses could not criticize Joseph for bringing Israel into Egypt; Joseph could not criticize Moses for refusing the Egyptian royalty that Joseph had accepted. The time has come when God's servants need to spend less time (it any) rebuking the methods of others whose message is identical to our own and more time reviewing our own motives and attitudes toward Christ and His cause. I will risk the accusations of "liberal" and "compromiser" if it will help some one of us see the futile error of castigating good men who are doing God's work the best they know how. If you cannot pray for them and help them, at least leave them alone!
3. Interpret the Bible contextually. II Timothy 2:15 still says, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Our opinions and personal preferences really do not matter when it comes to granting others the liberty of serving God as best they know how. Most of our quarrels are over traditions and Pharisaical nitpicking. May we grow up in Christ and move on to better things!
4. Be busy doing what God requires of you. The best way to call others to faithfulness in principles and practice is to demonstrate faithfulness. The best way to offer truth is to speak tine truth in love. Many times our fretting over the methods and styles of others suggests real doubts in the sovereignty of God over His own affairs. If others are falling short of God's perfect will, do not spend so much time in critical analysis that it leads to spiritual paralysis.
5. Assume, as much as possible, that others are doing what God requires of them. Two Bible passages come readily to mind: "And John answered him saying, Master we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad hirn^ because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part" (Mark 9:38-40) and "But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God" (Acts 5:39).
I have not always perfectly applied these principles, especially those of Christian courtesy in differences of opinion. May God help me to do better. May God help us all to do better.
[David Pitman is Pastor of Addyston Baptist Church, Addyston, Ohio and is on the faculty of John Leland Baptist College. This article appeared in the Ashland Avenue Baptist newspaper in 1994. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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