Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Don’t play, play, words from the mouths of favored men of God can be powerful

In my separate article – Reserve glory and worship for God, practice honors, and grow in God’s favor, in the last section, I talked about men with God’s favor could do mighty exploits for God. If you like, you can re-read the article (the last section). For this article here, we are going to look at the power of the words, declarations or prophesies of such men.

Not on how to grow in God’s favor, at least not for now
I am not going into the subject of how you and I can grow in the favor of God, particularly, at least not for now, but if the Lord is willing, may He provide the revelations necessary for that separately. Neither am I suggesting that you can arm-twist God into loving you more, giving you more or favoring you more. No one can arm-twist God. But at the same time, it is not accurate to say that we therefore, need not be bothered with being good children of God. Our earthly father loves us (if he does not, it is because of his fallen-ness) right from the start, even from the moment of decision (of having children), through the moments of conception, pregnancy, and birth; all the time before we have even done anything. Such is a measure of the agape love of God with which He loves us from His decision of our creation. Such love is an agape love from Creation. Coming from God it is unconditional; rightly coming from our earthly fathers, it should also be. But this does not mean that we, as children of our earthly fathers, do not need to be bothered with pleasing our fathers. I believe we are wired wanting the approval of our fathers, and that there is nothing wrong with that. I believed it is the world which is wrong to teach children not to hunger for the approval of fathers or to please their fathers. Just because some fathers, because of their own short-comings, would not readily give approvals or are difficult to please, it does not mean that the solution is to ask children not to look for such. Without proper follow-ups, and instead of working on the fathers, such demands on the children only cause the hunger to be displaced, and come out again misdirected.

Drawing out the parallel
Although I am not particularly wanting to address this issue, it is brought out here because of the parallel that I want to draw out. We too, should likewise be more careful not to over-emphasize that we cannot do anything more to make God like us more, and so we should forget about trying to please God. Just like our earthly fathers would like us to do the right stuff; they would be pleased when we do those because they were for our good, God likewise, would like us to do the right stuff as well, and God would be pleased when we do those because they were for our good, too. When we have learnt to have the right attitude, mindset, and the spiritual maturity, greater authority and responsibility will be given us, greater exploits can be entrusted to us. When we walk right with God, His favor would be upon us, and He would even back our words. The desire to please God should be exhorted not disdained.

My intention is that we might have a desire to grow in God’s favor
We are going to look at a few examples of God bringing to pass the declarations or prophetic words of men with God’s favor. My intention is that we would have a desire to grow in favor with God, and with that favor fulfill our destiny as mighty conquerors for our Lord, Jesus.

Moses – let the earth opens its mouth and swallows them
As the first case, we will look at Moses. Those who read the article mentioned at the start of this article would know that Moses was clearly mentioned as a man with God’s favor, and in that article I talked very briefly a few of the exploits of Moses. For an example of God’s backing of Moses’ declarations or words, we are going to look at the incident of a group of Levites trying to usurp the powers and the sacred duties assigned to the High Priest. This incident was recorded for us in Numbers 16:

With them {including Korah, Dathan and Abiram}, were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, "You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD's assembly?" (Num 16:2-3)

Then Moses became very angry and said to the LORD, "Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them." (Num 16:15)

Moses said to Korah, "You and all your followers are to appear before the LORD tomorrow—you and they and Aaron. Each man is to take his censer and put incense in it—250 censers in all—and present it before the LORD. You and Aaron are to present your censers also." So each man took his censer, put fire and incense in it, and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the glory of the LORD appeared to the entire assembly. The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once." (Num 16:16-21)

But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, "O God, God of the spirits of all mankind, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?" Then the LORD said to Moses, "Say to the assembly, 'Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.' " (Num 16:22-24)

Then Moses declared this:

If these men die a natural death and experience only what usually happens to men, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt." (Num 16:29-30)

See what happened:

As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah's men and all their possessions. They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. (Num 16:31-33)

In verses 21 & 24, God only told, through Moses (and Aaron), to separate from Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their cohorts, because the Lord would put an end to the culprits. God did not say how the culprits were to be destroyed. It was Moses who declared how the end would come to the guilty ones, and the Lord made it happened exactly as Moses declared or prophesied. Don’t play, play!

Joshua – Lord, make the sun stand still
Next, we are going to look at Joshua; he too, declared, and the Lord made it happened. The background, of course, was that Joshua was the one who took over the leadership from Moses. Moses was not the one who brought the Israelites into the Promised Land, Joshua was the one. It was God who instructed Moses to pass his leadership baton to Joshua, and clearly God’s favor was on Joshua. God’s choice of Joshua was clearly shown to the people when God caused the parting of the Jordan river at the time that the Israelites had to cross over it into the Promised Land; although it was not as dramatic as the parting of the Red Sea, it was clearly to demonstrate to the Israelites that God was with Joshua, just as He was with Moses.

After crossing the Jordan, Joshua took Jericho, and then a city called Ai. All the people on this side of the Jordan (the west side) came to know, and became fearful of the Israelites. There was a city nearby, called Gibeon, and the people of Gibeon, through a deception, had come into an alliance with the Israelites (although it was through deception, the Lord honored the treaty made because the Israelite leaders had vowed by the name of Lord, to the Gibeonites).

When the Amorites, a huge people group living on this west side of Jordan, learnt that the Gibeonites had made pact with the Israelites, they became angry with the Gibeonites and wanted to destroy the latter. Five Amorite kings banded together to attack the Gibeonites. And when the Gibeonites sought help from the Israelites, Joshua led the Israelite army against the Amorites at Gibeon. Although we read in Joshua 10:8 that the Lord told Joshua not to be afraid for the Lord would give the enemies into his hands, God did NOT say He would made the sun stand still. It was Joshua who said it to the Lord and the Lord listened:

On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel:
"O sun, stand still over Gibeon,
O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon."
So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,
till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,
as it is written in the Book of Jashar.
The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a man. (Joshua 10:12-14).

Of course the story ended with victory, and the 5 Amorite kings were killed. Wow! The last verse above recorded it, that the Lord listened to a man.

Gideon, I will succeed, and I will come after you
For the 3rd story, we are going to look at Gideon, a major Judge raised by God during the Judges period, a period of time in the Promised Land after the demise of Joshua.

Does Gideon have the favor of God? We read this in Judges 6:

Gideon replied {after the Lord appeared to him and told him that God was with him and that he, Gideon would strike down all the Midianites together with God}, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you." And the LORD said, "I will wait until you return." (Judges 6:17-18)

In Judges 7 we read of Gideon’s battle against the Midianties who were oppressing the Israelites greatly before Gideon came on the scene. Gideon “fought” 135,000 Midianites with only 300 men and won!

In Judges 8 we read that Gideon having won the main battle was chasing 2 Midian kings who made away with some 15,000 men. In the chase, Gideon came to 2 cities, one called Succoth, the other, Peniel. The elders/officials of Succoth refused to supply some bread to Gideon’s 300 men; the men of Peniel likewise refused. The people of Succoth and Peniel doubted that Gideon would be able to capture the Midianite kings. This was what the officials of Succoth said, "Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna {the 2 Midian kings} in your possession? Why should we give bread to your troops?" (Judges 8:6). Gideon declared when he returned in triumph, he would tear the flesh of the men of Succoth with thorns and briers, and would tear down the tower belonging to the people of Peniel.

The Lord granted Gideon success, capturing the 2 kings, defeating 15,000 men with 300 men, and everything said by Gideon concerning Succoth and Peniel, the Lord allowed them to come to pass. Gideon was able to go back, and did what he said he would do.

Jesus – may no one ever eat fruit from you again
For the last case, I will like us to look at the withering of the fig tree by Jesus, recorded for us in the New Testament. This particular act of Jesus on the fig tree was and is open to various interpretations as to what Jesus was trying to say through His act of cursing the tree or making a declaration against the tree. For now, I am not going to dwell into that; my intention is focused solely on the physical plain – God made the tree wither when Jesus spoke the words. In other words, God listened to Jesus, and brought Jesus’ words to pass.

The next day as they were leaving Bethany {go into Jerusalem}, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it. (Mark 11:12-14)

In the morning {the next morning}, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!" (Mark 11:20-21).

I am aware that in the subsequent verses of the story, Jesus mentioned about having faith in God and with faith miracles could come to pass. Still undeniably Jesus had the favor and was growing in favor with God. The Apostle Luke recorded for us in Luke 2 that Jesus grew in favor with God since his youth. At 12 years of age, Jesus amazed everyone who heard him discussing with teachers of the laws in the temple courts in Jerusalem. In Luke 2:52, we read this written of the boy Jesus:

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Perhaps, favor and faith do go hand in hand. I do not think you will enjoy continual favor from God if you have no faith in Him. Perhaps, when you trust Him, you can attract His favor but I would not go as far as to say that He must favor you (God is sovereign, and He will favor whom He favors).

Perhaps, it is also right to say that as Christians, we are well placed to receive favor from God compared to non-Christians. Still we need to grow in favor with God if we were to do mighty exploits for God. I do not think everyone is the same (everyone may have potential, not everyone achieves his full potential), and if Jesus needed to grow in favor with God while He walked on earth, I believe so must we.

Of course there are many examples of answered prayers and prophesies that had come to pass, in the Bible; but I believe the few that I have selected here are clear enough to illustrate the potency of the words of men enjoying the continual favor of God. Aim to grow in favor with God.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions– Lord, I know you are sovereign; you will favor whom you favor. Nevertheless, Lord, I know it pleases you that we, as your children, aim to grow in favor with you. Lord, give me revelations of what pleases you that I may grow in favor with you, apart from faith (for it is impossible to please God without faith).

[Added 01/06/2011: PS: Another OT eg. is Elisha's declaration against an officer with unbelief (2 Kings 7:1-2,17-20)]

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