Sunday, March 2, 2014
Numbers 12:3 "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth." (KJV)
Introductory thoughts on the subject of meekness
Today's post features a quality trait that very few people discuss today - the character quality of meekness. In the opening text we see the Biblical author (presumably Joshua, Moses successor, inserting a thought by Divine inspiration in the otherwise Mosaic authored text) describing Moses as being "very meek". When we talk about the English meaning of this word, it speaks of "strength under control". Think for example of a horse being restrained by a bit and a bridle or the quality of a man that enables him to restrain the urgings of the self, the flesh and strong emotion. With those opening thoughts on meekness, I would like us to take the remainder of this post and think upon Moses' meekness through particular episodes of his life that evidence this trait. Nave's Topical Bible gives the scripture references for this brief study (a worthwhile resource for the student of scripture to consider). Let us then consider then this subject of meekness:
1. Meekness points to the Glory of God
When you are attacked by false accusation or are facing opposition, what is the tendency? To defend the self at all costs, or to exercise restraint and point the person or conversation in a more God-ward direction? Moses was being accused of leading the people out to the wilderness to die. But notice his response in Exodus 16:7 - "And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the Lord; for that he heareth your murmurings against the Lord: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?" The meek individual points away from himself and refuses to take up bitterness. Meekness takes far more strength, which is why it is ultimately a trait wrought in the heart by the Spirit of God. (Galatians 5:23)
2. Meekness puts others ahead of oneself
The idea of meekness and humility are closely akin to one another, in that humility involves voluntary submission for the sake of another, whereas meekness entails voluntary restraint for the sake of another. Humility says "I will for your sake" and meekness says "I won't for your sake". In the Hebrew this word translated "meekness" speaks of humility of one's own agenda in the face of extreme affliction. We see the heart of Moses' meekness in his bold and frightening prayer of Exodus 32:32 - "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written." The myth that "meekness is weakness" is shattered once adversity is introduced into life. Meek people will endure and put themselves last, whereas prideful people will wither and panic and push themselves to the front.
3. Meekness prioritizes prayer. Numbers 16:4-50
We won't quote this entire section of scripture, but only note that in this dramatic encounter between Moses and the rebel Korah, Moses is seen praying and crying out to God. A meek person learns dependence and forsakes self-sufficiency. They learn that the battle is not theirs, but the Lord's.
4. Meekness finds pleasure in God. Exodus 33:17-18
Isaiah 29:19 states - "The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel." As you watch Moses grow as a leader throughout the 40 years he led the grumbling congregation of Israel, you see an ever increasing desire on his part for God's glory. Meek people care less and less about their own promotion, and rather desire the elevation of God's name in their lives and the people around them. I would like to close this brief study today with the following observation from Dr. John MacArthur: "Meekness is a path worth following. It may not lead you to a spot on “American Idol” or “Survivor,” you may not win a political campaign, but you’ll find the reward of God is yours in abundance. Jesus promised, “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).1