I have heard stories of all sorts of people who were held in great esteem; respected; honored; known in their field as the “golden boy.” Top rated Celebrities like Denzel Washington; Kristin Chenoweth; Patricia Heaton; Tyler Perry and on and on the list goes. However, when many of them announced their faith in Jesus, they were made fun of and ridiculed. All it took to damage their reputation and honor was making that announcement. Several years ago, when Bob Dylan became a Christian, he was booed off the stage when he began singing Gospel music.
If we were to turn back many years to a character from the Old Testament, we would see the perfect example of this. You see, it is believed that before his encounter with “the bush,” Moses was well respected and held in high esteem by the Egyptian government. If you remember the story, Moses was born during a period when his people, the Israelites, were increasing in numbers. As a result, the Egyptian Pharaoh became concerned that they might ally with Egypt’s enemies. So, when the Pharaoh ordered all newborn Hebrew boys to be killed, his Hebrew mother, Jochebed, secretly hid him. Through the Pharaoh’s sister Queen Bithia, the child was adopted as a foundling from the Nile river, and Mose grew up with the Egyptian royal family.
As a result of his upbringing, Moses lived among the wealthy and as one of the best-known men of his time. However, and here is an important point, according to the Hebrew Bible, once “The Messenger of Yahweh” spoke to this “Egyptian prince” out of the burning bush, all that recognition and fame dropped to zero.
This experience is something each of us must face. YHWH cannot use anyone until He tears them away from their worldly attachments. It may be difficult to understand, but all of the fame and recognition; all of the glory and accolades the world can offer you, must die. Certainly this was the case for Moses. Once he encountered the “burning bush,” (or more precisely, the God of the Burning Bush), he became available for the Lord’s work. In fact, we are told that Moses was hidden away, out of sight — silenced and without influence.
That happened to me when I moved to Ann Arbor. When Patrice and I lived in Kalamazoo, people knew us; Pastors invited me to teach in their church, individuals called for prayer (any time of day or the night). The list goes on, but you get my point. I was a “somebody,” and that was the problem! After we move to Ann Arbor, no one knew me, no one even cared to hear the “gifts” I had to offer. I was never called to teach in anyone’s church, and no one called asking for prayers. Just like Moses, I dropped to zero. But that had to happen
In the case of Moses, the very moment he reached the point where he no longer cared that he was a zero, he was able to walk on holy ground! He had to lose his desire for recognition or fame. There could be nothing left of the old, self-assured Moses.
Here’s the thing. Moses was out in the wilderness, minding his own business, taking care of his father-in-law’s sheep, when that “The Messenger of Yahweh” called out to him in a Burning Bush! What I have always wondered is how long did that Messenger wait before he was ready to break out in that glorious new revelation? All we know is that the bush was blazing away but oddly never burned up!
As you can imagine, Mose was a little shocked and thought, “Yo! What’s going on here? I can’t believe this! Amazing! Why doesn’t the bush burn up?” King Jim puts a little more regal sound to it: “I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” Yeah well, I think my version gave a more genuine spin to it, don’t you think?
But then we are told, “When Yahweh saw that Moses had come over to see it, Elohim called to him from the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’”
You see, ]everything that happened, and all that took place afterward, could not happen until Moses no longer cared about his work or his reputation. Read the rest of the Exodus story. Moses was humbled, and emptied of all sense of pride and desire for recognition. Moses was finally able to find revelation when he surrendered the last scraps of self-reliance. Me? Oh, you had to ask . . . it too much longer than it should have, but the Lord was finally able to break through to me.
We see our example in Jesus. Scripture tells us that He stood on this same holy ground, in fact Paul declared, “He emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant . . .” (Philippians 2:7).
Now we can read that and say that Jesus didn’t really become a servant, he took the “form” of a servant. Big difference. An actor goes on a stage and takes the “form” of whatever character he is playing. But was Jesus, Yahweh’s very own son, an “honest-to-goodness” servant?
Well, that is easy to answer because we see throughout His story, that Jesus submitted his life to sacrificial service to the will of God. Take a look at Luke 22:42. You will see that He sacrificed his life freely out of service for others (John 10:30). Then in Matthew 20:28, we read, “In the same way, the Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people. Go read Isaiah 53:12 and John 11:49–50. The point I am attempting to make is that Jesus came to serve although he was indeed, God’s son and was thus more powerful than any other leader in the world!
One great man of God wrote, “The man of God who truly preaches the Word will finally give up the idea of being known. If he preaches Christ, his reputation will constantly decrease, and Christ will increase. True prophets die, often without recognition. Yahweh gives them their dues only after they die.”
Look, if we are going to start searching for a larger, more widespread reputation, then something is missing in our hearts. Christ should be gaining, and we should be losing recognition. We should be less known as the years go by until, like Paul, we end up shut in with God. May we all decrease! May our Lord and King alone increase!
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With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.