This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. 

Acts 7:35

  1. Messiahs Refused 

Not always do an oppressed people recognize and receive their messiah, because messiahs don’t often look like it.  A people’s reception or refusal of their messiah, however, does not dismiss his mandate, although it can diminish his mission to them.  Reception often determines delivery.  In other words, how well one receives a messenger often determines how much of the message, or of the benefits of the message, one gets (Matthew 10:41; Mark 6:11).  It may also be said that reception begets reception.  That is, the reception that one gives to a message or messenger often influences how much of the related benefits one can receive.  

Of Jesus, it was reported that although He “came unto his own,” to the very people He was sent to save, to the right people at the right time, “his own received him not.”  Consequently, the Power of His coming was not accessible to everyone but only to “as many as received him” (John 1:11-12).  That they did not receive Him did not dismiss His mission; it only limited how much from Him they got.

Jesus did many “mighty works” that were attested to by Himself and even by unfriendly kings (Matthew 11:20; Mark 6:14); “mighty works” that left “many” people “astonished” (Mark 6:2), moved great cities (Luke 10:13), and made multitudes to “rejoice and praise God” with loud voices that would not be suppressed (Luke 19:37).  Yet “in his own country,” among His own kinsfolks that commonized and dismissed Him as “this man,” the same Doer of “mighty works” seemed restricted. “And he did NOT MANY mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:54, 58).  Their unbelief did not make Him less the Christ, but it affected how much from Him they could get.  How they received Him, how large or small a room they had offered Him, affected how much heavenly download they could got through His channel.

St Mark’s Gospel reports the sorry reception of Jesus’ kinsfolks even more worrisomely.  They queried the source of His power, were “offended at him,” forced Jesus to marvel at their unbelief, until, finally, “he could THERE do NO MIGHTY WORK” (Mark 6:1-6).  No mighty works, except that He laid hands on a few sick people.

Not every time will a people receive, or cheerfully receive, whom God sends to them, especially when they feel they know that person too much for them to be anything special.  None is much blessed by whom they refuse. That someone is verily on a mission from God does not usually make their acceptance automatic and unanimous (Ezekiel 2:3-7).  On the other hand, that their mission is doubted and their acceptance not universal does not mean that they were no messiahs.  In other words, a people’s unanimous endorsement or disapproval could sometimes be at variance with the Divine, which makes Prophet Elisha’s prayer for the fretful clergy during a national invasion very crucial: “LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see” (2 Kings 6:17).

It is reported of Moses that his own people “refused” him, not realizing that God had sent him to them, to end centuries of enslavement in Egypt.  God had not consulted them before He had sent that deliverer.  None of their respected spiritual leaders had been briefed by the Heavenly Council.  There had been no notable prophecy or vision about the coming of an Egyptian-Hebrew messiah.  They could not tell his political party or his backers.  They could not fathom how a person of such claimed millennial eminence could just emerge, so they demanded sternly, “WHO made thee?”  They seemed to have been seeking human credentials from a heavenly messenger.

In the actual case in Exodus 2:14, it was one man who spoke – apparently for himself, and then for “us,” saying, “Who made thee a prince and a judge over US? intendest thou to kill ME…?”  Nobody had ordained him everybody’s spokesman, but it turned out to be so, especially as no one had challenged his private proxy speech.  About 1,300 years later in the New Testament report of that apparently isolated incidence, the whole nation is postured as having rejected Moses.  Instead of stating that a singular aggressor had posed the query, the plural pronoun is adopted: “whom THEY refused” (Acts 7:35).   

In this season, some private voices should not be ignored as if they were speaking just for themselves in some isolated conference corner or market square.  In the realms of the spirit, at some future time of reckoning when the books are opened, the whole land could be implicated.

O Lord, I dissociate myself, my household, my estates, and my land from the negative implications of every wrong voice speaking in this season.  Like Solomon, O Lord, I pray, take away their guilt “from me, and from the house of my father.” May it return upon them and upon their seed for ever, “but upon David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace for ever from the LORD.”  Amen (1 Kings 2:31, 33).

The Israelites doubted Moses, but “the same did God send.”  That they could not receive him did not mean that God had not ordained him.  That they so publicly doubted his credentials did not mean that God had not discreetly commissioned him.  Therefore, judging divine messiahs by the size of their human approval could sometimes be very misleading.

Who was wrong in the conflicts: the people?  The man?  The Lord? Or the timing?  Could a query have reverberated so loud over centuries, yet it was not of God?

Loud hosannas have not always marked the reception of those whom God sends.  Those public chants of accolade and approbation often come later, sometimes tragically too late (Luke 19:41-44).  Messiahs do not usually carry a star on their foreheads, announcing them as one.  Ironically, sometimes, even residents of the Bethlehem over which a messianic star brightly shines are hostilely blind to what distant wise men earnestly seek to their own neglected humble mangers.  It is strange that it should sometimes take seers from afar, who look up, to announce the fulfilment of ancient prophecies to down-looking resident high priests distracted by mundane traditions (Matthew 2:1-6).

O Lord, deliver us from the Samaritan error of still seeking a Christ that is already so close as just a conversation away (John 4:25-26).  Save us from the faulty vision that projects the resurrected Master as a mere gardener, thus needlessly prolonging our search (John 20:15).  Speak clearly through the gloom and howling storms that fog our perception to the point of calling the Saviour by the opposite name of a ghost; a pitiable mistiness of night by which merciful deliverers sometimes seem to us as part of the sudden fears from which we row so earnestly to escape, on these deserted and tormented dark seas (Matthew 14:26).  Amen.

From The Preacher’s diary,
December 29, 2022. 

To be continued in Part 2 of 2

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