Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice: let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.”
Psalm 130: 1-6
King James Version
Today’s Study Text:
“And the Lord said unto him (Moses), ‘This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.’”
Deuteronomy 34: 4
King James Version
“God’s Plans That Answer Our Questions”
“One breath of paradise will extinguish all the adverse winds of earth.”
A. W. Pink
Has there been a time of severe trial in my life that I later found out was the catalyst to bring me blessings beyond anything I could have dreamed about?
What “affliction” am I facing at this very moment that I’m giving to God to work out, knowing He will provide for me what is best?
“I have never met with a single instance of adversity which I have not in the end seen was for my good.”
Alexander M. Proudfit
“God will never permit any troubles to come upon us unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty.”
In the world of art, there is a format called a triptych which contains three paintings, that as a group, layout a complete visual. In ancient times, the three pieces were often hinged together. I have a friend, who painted a “triptych” for me of three flowers. While each small painting could easily stand alone, and they are not hinged together, the three flowers, together, complement each other in both color and form.
A “triptych,” to me, is a visual example of the life of Moses. His was a “triptych” life, hinged together, in my mind, by the very special plan God had for him from the very moment he was born.
At the time Moses was conceived and delivered, there was an order from the Pharaoh that all Israelite baby boys were to be murdered. However, with some creative thinking by his mother, Jochebed, and the brave watchcare of his young sister, Miriam, Moses was plucked from certain death by Pharaoh’s daughter out of a small bulrush boat from the Nile River. For the next forty years, under the watchful care of his Godly mother and the royal Princess of Egypt, Moses’ training prepared him to rise, if he had chosen, to the throne of Egypt. This forty year apprenticeship of Egypt’s heir apparent might appear to some to be the perfect place for Moses to change the landscape for God’s children who were slaves in bondage to Egypt’s heartless task masters. So often we believe, falsely I might add, that with great worldly power, God’s Word is carried out. How sad that some Christians think that God’s best work is only accomplished through political prowess!
The fact is that in the New Testament, in Hebrews 11: 24-26 (KJV), we are given a very interesting insight into the choice Moses made, “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.” Sitting at the helm of Egypt’s empire carried no great interest for Moses whose Guide was his eternal Father.
There’s a phrase in this passage which is critical to our study about unanswered prayer and how what we see is so often not the whole picture or plan that God is able to view.
The phrase, which I find critical, is “suffer affliction,” which in the Greek is absolutely fascinating and it is the reason I love the way we study God’s word here in the “Garden.” Rather than just skim over a text in Scripture that we may have read before we get out our spades and shovels and we dig deeper. Even when we’re digging in a dry field of unanswered prayers.
First of all, the Greek word for suffer, as used in Hebrews 11: 25, means to “endure persecution together” or to “be in the company of those who are maltreated.” In other words, after forty years of palace pampering, Moses made the choice to give up a life of ease for maltreatment and persecution with a group of slaves whom God wanted freed from Egyptian bondage.
But there’s more – as always happens when we choose to dig into the word of God and really feast on it. The word “affliction,” in Greek, really opened my eyes to a new view of how I personally look at the “trials” or “afflictions” that come my way. In Hebrews 11: 25, the Greek word for affliction is “sugchuno” or “sugcheo”. Interestingly, this is the only time in the New Testament when this Greek word is the one that is translated “affliction” and it means, “to throw everything into disorder, to perplex the mind, to confound or confuse, and to stir up into an uproar.”
When we go back to the verse before, Hebrews 11: 24, there is the statement, “when he (Moses) was come of age.” In Jewish history, a boy is said to come of age at thirteen and in Moses’ life, in the book of Exodus, we find that although his life was spared by Pharaoh’s daughter, who took this child as her own, the early training that Moses received from his parents who cared for him, became a key to his recognition that his life was one of purpose. He had been spared to fulfill a calling greater than sitting on the worldly throne of Egypt. And from a young age, Moses understood this fact. Day after day in Pharaoh’s courts, as he was schooled by the greatest minds available to this young man and potential world leader, a fire from heaven burned in Moses’ heart – the knowledge that God had placed His heavenly calling upon his life.
Just think how you would have felt if you had been in Moses’ sandals, knowing God had work for you to do, yet you were watching daily as the Egyptian task masters’ whips hit the backs of the very people God wanted you to deliver. If at the age of thirteen Moses understood his calling, think of him trying to wait patiently for twenty-seven years as his prayer went unanswered. But this is exactly the place Moses found himself. Then one day, Moses had enough. Watching an Egyptian, “smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren,” became too much evil for Moses to take (Exodus 2: 11). He looked around, killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.
It is at this point that I want to go back to the “suffer affliction” phrase from Hebrews 11: 24, 25. For twenty-seven years, at least, Moses knew he was called of God and yet rather than tossing over his faith, he held strong to his fervent belief in the God of heaven and earth, to the point, that he decided he would rather endure persecution with slaves than live a life of royalty in the house of Pharaoh. With his feet firmly planted in his commitment for God, he did what he thought would be an act that would move the deliverance of his “brethren” along. He killed the enemy – and this is where the word “affliction” finds its way into the specter of an unanswered prayer, for Moses was, as the Greek definition of “affliction” makes clear, truly confused and confounded or perplexed as to why taking up the sword and murdering for God wasn’t at all the plan God had in mind for the deliverance of His children.
I can just hear Moses praying to God and telling Him, “I was doing what you’ve called me to do. I was standing up for right. I was protecting my kin. I was saving the life of one of my brethren and now I’m a hunted man. I’m going to be murdered for what I did for you?”
This is exactly what happened, because when Pharaoh found out about Moses’ heritage and saw how far Moses’ allegiance to God and to his family would carry him, Pharaoh began to understand something critical to his own rulership – Moses was a threat and needed to be eliminated.
With his life in desperate peril, Moses ran to Midian, a desert hideaway where the second segment of his forty-year “triptych” began as he herded a flock of sheep for a living.
I want to stop here for today and reflect on how Moses felt when he realized that his prayer that God would fulfill the purpose for his life, seemed for eighty years, to take the biggest detour you could ever conceive. It is the life of Moses that should give you and me an immense amount of courage when our own prayers go unanswered whether for a few days, or for eighty years!
As I’ve read your emails and your requests for prayer, I know that so many of you have, as an unanswered prayer, your extreme need for a job, that not only helps you meet your financial obligations, but provides you with the purpose God has planned for your life. This may be a prayer that has sapped your energy because nothing seems to be working out the way you have prayed it would.
Let me be clear, I know this prayer because for thirty plus years I’ve asked God to work things out for me in the “work” area of my own life. Again and again, yes, for thirty plus long years, I’ve waited – and honestly, sometimes I have whined and griped and gotten grumpy as time and again, plans I thought were from heaven fell apart. Like Moses, while I’ll never “kill an Egyptian” to help God out, I’ve certainly done my part in meddling with things, thinking that God needs me to get the ball rolling, when in actuality, unanswered prayers are God’s way, I am finding, to help Dorothy let her Father do what I should trust Him to do all along -- and that it is to let Him work in His way, in His time, in my life.
Please remember, today we have only looked at two pieces of the “triptych” that was Moses’ life, hinged together by his Father’s gracious love and fostered by our Father’s precious promises that He will do abundantly, above, all that we ask or think. This is what we will find on display in Moses’ life tomorrow when we’ll look closely at the final panel in the life of Moses and see that when we think our Father is absent or too quiet to be doing anything useful, the grandeur He has in mind for us is so spectacular we wouldn’t even believe it until it happens right before our eyes.
The other night, when again, I couldn’t sleep, which is a continuing challenge I’ve faced ever since our car accident, I stepped outside in the cold, dark night. It was one of those clear nights that didn’t have much moonlight so the stars sparkled even brighter than usual. As I looked into the sky, and I thought of the terrible “affliction” and “suffering” Job faced, and how, this “upright” man, who like Moses purposed in his heart to do what was right, had so much tragedy hit him, I thought of how God came and asked Job this question, “Can you direct the movement of the stars – binding the cluster of Pleiades or lose the cords of Orion?” (Job 38: 31).
There in my own little world, up in the night sky, I was looking at those same starry clusters and the constellation of Orion that God talked to Job about.
Thousands of years after God spoke with Job, my Father still has the universe under His control. And at that moment in time, when worry kept me awake, I thanked my Father, the God of the Milky Way as I like to call Him on evenings when the band of the Milky Way crosses our night sky, that I can trust Him when I can’t see what He is doing, because I know whatever plans He has for my life, (and for yours), will be for our best good!
“God does not mock His children with a night that has no ending; and to every man (and woman) who stands resolute while the darkness lasts there comes at length the vindication of faith and the breaking of the day.”
James S. Stewart
“What seems so dark to thy dim sight
May be a shadow, seen aright
Making some brightness doubly bright.
The flash that struck thy tree – no more
To shelter thee – lets heavens’ blue floor
Shine where it never shone before.
The cry wrung from thy spirit’s pain
May echo on some far-off plain,
And guide a wanderer home again.
The blue heaven is larger than the clouds.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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