Friday, August 10, 2007

The reproach of Christ

Over the past couple of days I have been reading 'I am Moses' by Alan Pain. I think I previously blogged about another of Pain's book ('I am Jeremiah'), so when I saw the Moses one in a secondhand bookshop I thought I would get it.

The premise is that it is Moses writing about his life and ministry, with humorous asides and application for possible future generations (that being you and me). An interesting read, although to my mind he seemed to focus an awful lot on a very few incidents, and not mention others at all - such as the reason Moses didn't enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20, 27).*

As I was reading the book, those verses from Hebrews 11 were floating around in my mind, even though they weren't mentioned either. Check out Hebrews 11:24-26 - 'By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharoah's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.'

Despite Moses being brought up in the palace, and being (in the title of the animated movie) The Prince of Egypt, it was all worth nothing compared to being identified with his people and bearing the reproach of Christ. So what was the reproach of Christ? I think the NIV is helpful here - 'He chose to be ill-treated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking forward to his reward.'

It makes us think again of our priorities - do we seek to take the power and glory and wealth and privilege of the world now? Because ultimately, it will be worthless - the pleasures of sin last for just a short time compared to the eternal reward of Christ.

When persecution comes, will we seek to preserve ourselves, or will we be in the front line, choosing to be ill-treated with the people of God for the sake of Christ? Surely this is an essential element of the call of Christ, to die to self and to carry our cross daily?

Because, at the end of the Day - capitalisation intended - we will be vindicated by the Father.

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* An aside that I noticed on reviewing the story of Moses not being allowed into the promised land links in to the passage I was preaching on last Sunday that I hadn't noticed at the time. Numbers 20 tells of the people of Israel at Meribah. It wasn't the first time the people had grumbled because of lack of water. On a previous occasion, Moses had been commanded to strike the rock, and water gushed out. On this occasion, however, God told Moses to 'tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water' (Num 20:8).

Moses, however, in his anger (or reverting to traditional methods?) struck the rock with his staff twice. The water came out, but Moses was condemned - 'Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.' Moses striking the rock was a sign of unbelief, of not regarding God as holy.

Jump forward to 1 Peter 3, and Peter is calling on those who are suffering persecution to 'Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in our hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence for the hope that is in you...' (1 Peter 3:14-15). Can you see the link? Moses didn't regard God as holy and suffered unbelief. In the times of persecution, Peter calls on Christians to regard Christ the Lord as holy - to keep faith. Interesting the connections you notice when you're in the word!

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