When someone studies Scripture honestly, it is important that you not try to read something into the Word that simply is not there. Bible scholars call this mistake eisegesis (That’s simply an adaptation of a Greek word meaning: “reading something into the words that just is not there.”). Sometimes people may use that method to support their own point of view. Especially if they can’t locate an isolated “proof text” to back them up. That is not only dishonest; it can be very harmful and misleading. It is important that we understand correctly what is actually being said. Once we’ve done that, though, I believe we NEED TO APPLY THE LESSONS WE LEARN.
I mentioned that just so you’ll know I respect the integrity of Scripture and honest, thoughtful scholarship. And I do not feel anyone has the right to try to force Scripture to say something just to support their point of view.
Having said that, I’m aware there isn’t any place in the entire book of Exodus where God said: “Moses, Make up your mind. You gotta make a decision!” It simply isn’t there. The implication is, though, and the standard which was clear that day remains in force to this very hour. God has a way of intercepting our paths, interrupting our plans, demanding a commitment, changing our lives. He still does that and always will.
It is not enough to simply see the truth. Nor is it enough to be really “moved” by what we learn. We must DO SOMETHING with the truth we receive. So, for instance, a decision to follow Christ is not simply an emotional upheaval. Nor is it simply a profoundly rational, logical conclusion. The decision must become volitional. It is absolutely necessary that you make the correct decision, and then follow through with a life commitment.
What if Moses had just gotten all worked up emotionally and said: “Great Show, I AM, or whatever your name is!? Wow! I’m impressed! This is even better than Washington and Maestro Williams conducting John Phillip Sousa’s music on the Fourth of July!” Suppose Moses had even whistled and hooted and clapped because he was so moved emotionally at the impressive, Technicolor performance. Suppose he’d gone home after work that day and said to his wife: “Zippie, Hon, you just ain’t gonna believe what happened to me today. . . now don’t you go tell your Daddy. Jethro already has some misgivings about his son-in-law!”
You know that isn’t what happened. Look again. A decision was required. I can almost imagine God saying: “I don’t want or need your approval or even your applause. Don’t even try to patronize me. I want YOU.” A decision is required. A commitment is demanded. Did it disrupt his life and interrupt his own plans? You bet!! But what could you do that is better than serving the living God and His people?
Jesus did the same thing when He got here. He called and then expected decisions. Apparently, He’d just walk up to fishermen who were mending their nets and say: “Follow Me.” No burning bush, you understand. Just an unmistakably clear call to follow and an expectation of a response. Abruptly, they stopped what they were doing, dropped their nets, and did what He asked. You see it again and again as a call is issued to make a decision. To “forsake all and follow me.”
Think about that a bit. Besides Moses, others have heard and heeded such a call; but in slightly different ways. The Apostle Paul got called on the road to Damascus. Without trying to be clever, it appears that he was blinded before he was really able to see! He was completely surprised. Caught off guard, to say the least. And a decision was demanded. The impact of his commitment that day is felt to this day. God took a single, simple sentence from a letter Paul wrote to the infant Church at Rome, and used it centuries later to grab the attention of a troubled young priest named Martin Luther. Luther read a single sentence in that letter:“The just shall live by faith,” and it rocked his world. Years later, an aspirintg English religious religious cleric read Luther’s commentary on the book of Romans, considered the same ideas, and felt his “heart strangely warmed.” Confronted with such a life changing idea, John Wesley gave his life to following and serving the living Christ.
You surely have heard of others who, when confronted by the same reality, have decided to follow the Lord. It just seems to be the right thing to do, as one poet said so eloquently that “Love so amazing, so divine, demands (deserves, and shall have) my life. My soul. My all.”
I can not over-emphasize the importance of Moses’ decision. What if all the things we discussed concerning Moses had occurred just as they were recorded. What if it were really true that the persons and events which figured in his development had really taken place just as we see them recorded today in our Old Testament. And God really had confronted him after getting his attention with the burning bush. Suppose God had invested all that time and energy and had a “Plan and a man.” But then, just suppose Moses had said: “NO. No way. Not now and not ever.”
Do you see the point I’m trying to make? I sort of think: “How can we miss the importance of that fact, when it’s as clear as the nose on my face?” If he had not taken that step, there’s no way he’d have ever become the great leader he became. Instead of being revered as perhaps the greatest man in Jewish history, he’d probably not have even earned an asterisk in the pages of history.
As I’ve tried to understand how Moses got a spot on the roster of “God’s Comeback Kids,” it seems crystal clear that his decision to obey God and accept the assignment was of supreme importance. That decision was a giant step.
Now, if that fact is fixed firmly in my mind, how could I escape the conclusion that the God would use the same expect a decison in dealing with us today? When He calls you and me,it doesn’t make sense for Him to get a busy signal, or be “put on hold.” He calls inviting us to a right relationship to Himself through His son. He calls us to service, just as Moses was called. And He waits patiently for our response. Not like a pre-programmed robot, but as a loving son or daughter who says: “Yes.” when asked to serve.
It isn’t at all clear to me how or when God confronts anyone else and calls him or her to service. But He has a record of doing that very thing. Rudyard Kipling wasn’t wrong when he wrote: “Once to every man and nation comes a moment to decide…” Billy Graham has an entire ministry based on the importance of that fact. In presenting the simple truths of the Gospel, his radio ministry is entitled: “The Hour of Decision.” The newsletter published by his organization is known as “Decision.” A clear presentation of a simple message calls for a clear response. A DECISION.
However, whenever God calls you, that becomes your “Hour of Decision.” There is no guarantee that, if refused, such an opportunity will be re-presented later, at “a more convenient season.” It is important, even urgent, that you answer when called.
Sometimes poets can put truths into such powerful words, and if you read these lines thoughtfully, I believe they’ll say what I’m trying to say much better than I could ever verbalize it:”**
“A tender light than sun or moon Than songs of earth a sweeter hymn May shine and sound forever on, But thou be deaf and dim.
Forever, round the Mercy Seat, The guiding light of Love shall burn But what if, habit bound, thy feet shall lack the power to turn? What if thine eye refuse to see; Thine ear of Heaven’s free welcome fail. And thou, a willing captive be, Thy self thine own dark jail?”
Clearly, Moses was confronted with a choice. He was compelled to make a decision and then act accordingly. God calls us, too. And He patiently, lovingly, awaits our response.
God’s servant, your friend and fellow student,Donkimrey
*Just kidding. Some (well, one at least) of my best friends is an attorney at law.
**John Greenleaf Whittier wrote this.
(Post script: As I post this study, hurricanes are battering and threatening Louisiana and other areas along the coast. We should certainly pray for those residents in such a time of danger and loss. Just as we should also always remember the members of our armed forces. ~dk)