Meditations in Exodus: 21. Preliminary Meetings
Ex 4:27 The LORD said to Aaron, “Go into the desert to meet Moses.” So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him.
Aaron, you remember, is Moses brother. Now whether that had managed to maintain contact over those forty years we just don’t know, but the Lord in His goodness sent Aaron to meet Moses. What an encouragement that would have been. How Aaron knew where to go, we don’t know; all we do know is that as Moses is making his way down the route down the west side of the Gulf of Aqaba on his way back to Egypt from Midian, he gets to Mount Sinai at exactly the same time that Aaron comes from the opposite direction. Coincidence? He greets Moses and Moses then shares with him what had happened at this place not long back: “Then Moses told Aaron everything the LORD had sent him to say, and also about all the miraculous signs he had commanded him to perform.” (v.28)
There are various stages in bring about the confrontation between God and Pharaoh and the first stage has just taken place – the coming together of Moses and Aaron so that Moses can share the plan that will involve them both. Stage two is meeting with the elders of Israel in Goshen. There Moses and Aaron start their partnership as the Lord had agreed for it to work: “Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.” (v.29-31). Note at this stage what has convinced the elders: the account of Moses’ meeting with God and the two miraculous signs. The signs backed up the account and made it believable.
Now I am sure we have said this before but it does bear repeating. In the UK we Christians live as a small minority of the population, possibly only 5% and we live in the midst of an ungodly generation hardened by materialism and unbelief. In the USA optimistic suggestions are that genuine Christians may be as high as 30%. In other ‘western’, English-speaking nations it probably varies between those two figures. The Gospel has been shared but over the years largely rejected by the majority. How did Jesus minister to Israel in his three years of ministry? By preaching accompanied by signs and wonders. We need to return to that faith level. Why? For two reasons: first, that was how Jesus did it and, second, that was the thing that moved the hearts of the people with Jesus, and the hearts of the elders with Moses now.
Why do we shy away from these things? In the UK I believe it has been simple unbelief. In the USA I believe it is complicated by the American Work Ethic of try hard, organize, plan and be successful which has meant church based in many cases on ‘be yourself’ preaching, and perfectly organized large churches where the Spirit has little or no room to move. That of course is an over-generalization but my experience and observation suggests that that is often so. Jesus’ own ministry and the teaching of the apostle Paul on ‘gifts’ clearly reveals a supernatural dimension involving revelation (word of knowledge or prophecy) and power encounters, largely in respect of healing but also in other ways as well. This is a dimension of the Christian life that we cannot do without, being truly submitted to the will of God.
There is occasionally a rash voice of Christianity that highlights catastrophes as the judgements of God but mostly in Scripture such judgements come only after there have been warning after warning. Until senior voices across big denominations and/or the Catholic Church gain a credible voice in the world, the warning aspect appears absent and thus those proclaiming judgements after the event lack credibility. So often such voices also lack humility and compassion and for there to be credibility the Church needs to be seen to be doing the ‘good works’ that Jesus spoke of in the Sermon on the Mount, while at the same time presenting the good news accompanied by a supernaturally, divine dimension.
Will these initial signs, that Aaron performs on Moses’ behalf, be sufficient? In the long-term no. The pressures that build up from Pharaoh’s side will even overwhelm them and we will also see that the occult can counterfeit ‘gifts’ and power manifestations. Under increased pressure, we will see, doubt will be manifest and for Pharaoh’s will to be broken, it will necessitate persistence on behalf of Moses and Aaron and their complete obedience to the direction of the Lord. Therein is the key. Although I have mentioned a signs and wonders dimension in evangelism, ultimately this is not a mechanical thing, but a responding to the guidance and direction of the Lord and the Lord Himself acting. All we can do is be available and obedient, and in the face of the world’s opposition that can be scary.
In recent days, as I have once or twice counselled those moving into public spheres of ministry that will confront the world and Satan, my counsel is always get your local church behind you and seek to establish a prayer group (if not the main church Prayer Meeting) that will pray for you and stand against the powers and principalities that you may come against. In heavy spiritual warfare the casualties are often wives or children, wives who cannot handle the pressure of their man being out so much, and children rebelling in the face of absent fathers. To counter these very real difficulties we need wisdom and understanding as well as compassion and care and a willingness to be a supporter of such people in upfront positions in the warfare.
Moses and Aaron are only in the early stages of the coming battle and so far they have just been encouraged. The more they move on the less that will happen and the battle will get intense. The only way to survive is cling on to the Lord, be obedient to Him and determine to hang on and keep at it. This is where perseverance will come in and in this sort of warfare, perseverance can only be maintained by a sure knowledge of your calling, and the close proximity of the Lord with an awareness of His anointing. Scary but glorious.