Thursday, February 5, 2009


Several seekers (I among them) have been commenting back and forth on Facebook for the better part of two weeks on matters of philosophy and theology. While it is interesting to discuss the meaning of scripture in our world today, there is something else at stake, equally as valuable as deciding who is right and who is wrong. Who wins the debate is only half the picture.

It matters who is right -- don't get me wrong. Jesus cared about that, and we're to follow His example in all things; still, we are NOT to pick and choose in what areas we'll emulate Christ. Yesterday's Old Testament and New Testament readings speak a single message to my heart: we're not to merely to pass judgment between right and wrong, but we must also intercede. Judgment and mercy are two sides to a single coin, as illustrated by the example of Moses.

Moses is the most renowned foreshadowing of the Messiah in history, who spent so much time in the presence of God that his appearance was changed. His face glowed so brightly that he had to put a bag over his head! Moses was also the judge of his people, leading them with a firm hand. His tradition of leadership was passed down through the generations, yet Jesus himself placed no credence in the authority of those who carried on the work of Moses in His day.

In fact, Jesus condemned the expert debaters of his time, the scribes and Pharisees. Those who carried Mosaic authority in the time of Christ wanted only to sit in the seat of judgment, not in mercy. They were unwilling to carry the burden of intercession. Moses was an authority figure and judge over the people of Israel, but he was also a powerful mediator, willing to lay down his life for his people. It was Moses' persistent and urgent petition which saved Israel from the judgment they so richly deserved.

Jesus said, "The scribes and Pharisees sit [in judgment] on Moses' seat . . . They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to carry them . . . " (see Matthew 23:2-12 for context). The distinguishing mark of the modern believer is a consistent walk of love, humility, and service, without which judging what is "right" won't make a dime's worth of difference to those around us.

We who would honor Christ are to follow the full example of Moses as judge and intercessor; we can't allow empty arguments to turn us into cold-hearted hypocrites. The Lord Jesus puts us all in our place when he says:

. . . you are all brothers [and sisters]. . .
you have one instructor, the Christ.
The greatest among you shall be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
- from Matthew 23:8-12

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