Sunday, 22 May 2016

Experiences with Moses - Excerpts from Exodus 24, 32 and 33

What do other people see in our lives? Is it something attractive and worth imitating? Watching someone and doing like-wise was in the rabbi-disciple culture at the time of Jesus, but it also goes back much further. In Exodus we see Joshua tagging along with Moses, seeing how he did life, his priorities and reactions. This mini-series will look at 'The Discipled Leader', echoing our look at 'Jesus the Discipler' from earlier in the year.

Joshua is first introduced in Exodus 17 where he is sent by Moses to lead in a battle. Clearly he is already a fighter and commander. It gets more interesting in chapter 24 where Joshua has the first of three experiences with Moses.

Moses takes his senior leadership team up the mountain, leaving the people back at base. A certain way up Moses tells the leaders this is far enough, and leaves them in charge of the people. He goes farther just with Joshua, described as his assistant, and they literally share the walk up the mountain. Maybe Joshua was just to carry the bags, but it shows Moses as someone who took someone from the next generation with him.

From the bottom the mountain-top looked like raging fire, and Moses and Joshua climbed up towards it! They waited 6 days, and then Moses was called into the glory of God. Six whole days - it is a reminder for us to wait expectantly for the presence of God! For Moses it was entering a cloud, for us we now have God revealed more fully in the person of Jesus Christ. Moses was happy to enter, and correspondingly our desire is to be ever closer to Jesus.

The second episode is 40 days later when Moses comes back down. By now the people had become bored of waiting and turned to manufacturing their own gods, doing their own thing, descending into immorality and raucous behaviour. Joshua could hear the commotion and asked Moses about it. Moses already knows what is going on but doesn't spell it out for Joshua. On their return Moses overflows with frustration and anger, presumably right in front of Joshua.

So Joshua sees the natural/human side of Moses. Whether Moses' outburst was good or bad is not so important, because as a leader you don't always have to maintain a pretence. Allowing your disciple to see your full range of emotions can itself help with learning and formation - remember that friendship makes good conditions for growth.

The third episode was just outside the camp where Moses pitched a tent which became a place where he would habitually meet with God. It was kind of whacky, with the glory of God descending on it and Moses apparently meeting God face to face! Curiously, whilst Moses would then return to the camp we are told that Joshua stayed there all the time. What did he do there? Keep it clean? Stand guard? We don't actually know, but clearly Moses had given him ongoing responsibility. Presumably some of the awesomeness of Moses meeting God and the presence descending on the tent rubbed off on Joshua.

In these ways Joshua saw Moses' life first hand, saw him seek and meet with God, as well as seeing how Moses reacted to unbelief and rebellion. But what of our lives, if people watch us what do they see? Hence the new key question and challenge:

[OUT] Do you live a life worth imitating?
Challenge: Review one area of your life

It is an 'OUT' question because ultimately whether our life is worth imitating is a mission question. If there is nothing good to imitate, we should not be surprised if people are not interested in our spoken message.

Practically speaking it is how the desire to be ever closer to Jesus translates into actual lives lived. As well as waiting on his presence (as Moses did), how does being closer to Jesus work out in our priorities, our decision making, and how we react to different situations. The challenge is to take stock in at least one area of our life, to see how much it is driven by Kingdom values. Being close to Jesus is not simply an experience, but a life lived that others can see.

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