Visionaries Not Vigilantes

Scripture Focus: Exodus 4.13
13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

Reflection: Visionaries Not Vigilantes
By John Tillman

An aged, fearful, desert-dwelling Moses begs God to send someone else. Why? Perhaps because Moses has already failed. He tried helping his people by using violence but this neither reduced suffering nor earned him respect. He was forced to flee as a criminal. (Exodus 2.11-15)

What if Moses hadn’t been forced to flee? Imagine Moses living a pampered life in the palace, but secretly working behind the scenes dispensing vigilante justice like Batman, Zorro, the Scarlet Pimpernel, the Punisher, or John Wick. Would that have done any good or accomplished any justice?

Old Moses asks, “Who am I to lead these people?” If we had overheard this conversation, we might agree. We’d prefer the young violent hero.

We love stories of people standing up against violence…using violence. When Jesus said, “those who live by the sword will die by the sword,” he intended it as a warning, but we prefer it as a plot device. Violent people receiving violent payback is a sure box office hit.

One thing that makes us comfortable with violent heroes is the effort storytellers take to ensure we see how bad the bad guys are. The four-film-long John Wick franchise kicked off with the title character’s puppy being killed. All the violence stems from that and no one mourns the heartless puppy killer or his fellow criminals.

But what happens when God picks up the sword? We get nervous about divine violence. “Are we sure all these people are THAT bad? What if there are some righteous among the wicked? Are you sure, God?” Biblical authors don’t always write exposition about the crimes of those killed in judgment. The authors don’t tell us what they assume to be obvious: God’s hand of judgment can be trusted.

God chose the elderly, humbled, Moses, not the young, cocky, violent Moses. Where are we on this spectrum? If you are angry and frustrated (and it’s hard not to be in today’s world) turn your frustration to God. He hears our cries for justice. (Exodus 3.7-9) If you are humbled, burned out, or washed up, don’t shy from God’s call.

God calls Moses, not with a sword in his hand, but a staff. He doesn’t need vigilantes. He needs visionaries. As we work to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly” we must start with humility first. Without humility, we’ll never have mercy. Without mercy, we’ll never act justly.

From John: Divine violence is a difficult and disturbing topic. If you’d like more in-depth study on this topic Erin recommends Confronting Old Testament Controversies, by Tremper Longman. You can also hear Erin discuss some of these topics on the Faith and Culture Now podcast.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commandments. — Psalm 119.113

Today’s Readings
Exodus 4 (Listen 4:17
Matthew 15 (Listen 4:23)

Read more about Testing Before Judgment
God’s tests prove him righteous. God is merciful and compassionate, but he does not leave the guilty unpunished.

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A Fight Won with Quietness :: Throwback Thursday

Luke 7.22
Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.

From John:
In this letter, Amy Carmichael encourages a young Christian worker in the spiritual disciplines needed to endure the spiritual opposition that each of us will face when we embrace Jesus as not just a kindly, dead philosopher, but a living savior and Lord who walks with us.

When we learn to walk aware of Christ’s presence, we begin to notice what he wants us to notice, to see what he wants us to see.

Reflection: A Fight Won with Quietness :: Throwback Thursday
By Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

The fight to which we have been called is not an easy fight. We are touching the very center of the devil’s power and kingdom, and he hates us intensely and fights hard against us. We have no chance at all of winning in this fight unless we are disciplined soldiers, utterly out-and-out and uncompromising, and men and women of prayer.

So first, give much time to quietness. We have to get our help for the most part direct from our God. We are here to help, not to be helped, and we must each one of us learn to walk with God alone and feed on his Word so as to be nourished. Don’t only read and pray—listen. And don’t evade the slightest whisper of guidance that comes. God make you very sensitive, and very obedient.

Fill up the crevices of time with the things that matter most. This will cost something, but it is worth it. “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

No one is of much use who does not truly want to learn what it means to pray and listen and definitely choose the life that is hid with Christ in God.

Keep close, keep close. If you are close you will be keen. Your heart will be set on the things that abide. You will drink of his Spirit and you will thirst for souls even as he thirsts. You will not be attracted by the world that crucified him, but you will love the people in that world who have never seen his beauty and are losing so much more than they know. You will live to share your joy in Him, Nothing else will count for much.

All this will be, if you walk with Him as with a visible companion, from dawn through all the hours till you go to sleep at night.

Prayer: The Greeting
You are my hiding place…you surround me with shouts of deliverance. — Psalm 32.8

Today’s Readings
Exodus 4 (Listen – 4:17) 
Luke 7 (Listen – 7:14)

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Read more about Light for the Next Step
A lamp for our feet forces us to engage with where we are, not look only at distant destinations.

Read more about Occupation of Meditation
As Carmichael implies, meditation is more than just privately “thinking” about God’s word. It is occupation—something that implies action.