Monday, October 29, 2018
Deuteronomy 1:37 – 38 Because of you the LORD became angry with me also and said, “You shall not enter it, either. But your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will enter it. Encourage him, because he will lead Israel to inherit it.”
Moses was having a tough day. He knew what God’s purpose was for the people he was assigned to lead. Yet they chose to live in fear rather than step out in faith. They chose to listen to 10 men who had only the perspective of human experience, rather than listen to the 2 men who had God’s perspective.
As a result of the people’s choice, God sentenced all of the them, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, to death in the wilderness without ever experiencing the fulfillment of His promise. As their leader, Moses would spend the next 40 years with the people on a wandering journey in the wilderness that would end in death. It was a bleak future, but not one without eternal significance. God gave Moses three responsibilities:
- Moses was to bring the people who had rejected God’s promise back to a position of trust in God where they would honor Him with their lives even though they would still suffer the earthly consequences of their sin. As their model, Moses needed to teach the people that eternity is the goal and the fulfillment of life, not what this world offers.
- Moses was to train the innocent children to trust God completely so that when the time came for them to enter the Promised Land they would do it. This would be difficult, because their parents had believed the report that the land was unconquerable, and they would be asked to conquer it 40 years later when the population and strength of the land would be even greater.
- Moses was also to personally encourage Joshua, whom God had chosen to be the leader of the nation following Moses. I think this would have been Moses’ most difficult assignment. Moses must spend the next 40 years training and encouraging a young man to take his place and accomplish what he thought he would get to do. I’m sure Moses battled with resentment and discouragement as he followed God’s command to be an encourager.
The Bible has a lot to say about encouragement and being an encourager. The Old Testament alone has 309 references to encouragement, while the New Testament has some 45 references to the subject. Today we begin a study of some important truths about encouragement. The first is this – encouraging others is not a product of our own circumstances but is a response to what God is doing in someone else’s life.
If Moses would have only been an encourager when things were good with himself, Joshua would have never been trained to lead the nation of Israel. For 40 years Moses invested in the life of someone who would do what he wanted to do. Day after day Moses was reminded by the very presence of Joshua that he had failed and that he would not realize the full promise of God on this earth. But Moses was faithful to God’s command because he saw the bigger picture. His faith was not in what God can provide in this world but in what God will fulfill in eternity for those who are faithful to Him. Moses set aside his disappointment and discouragement and began the incredible work of encouraging the next generation of God’s people who would conquer the enemy’s territory.
Pride keeps us from doing what Moses did. We have convinced ourselves that we can do it better than anyone else, and if we can’t get it done, no one will. For some reason we tend to think that we are God’s best chance to build the kingdom. Get over yourself! God may only need you to prepare the way for someone greater. Look at the examples of that in Scripture. John the Baptist, who knew that he must decrease so that Jesus could increase. Barnabas, who introduced Paul to the Apostles and encouraged them to step out of the way and let him do the work God had called him to. Phoebe, who served and encouraged Paul while he was in prison in Ephesus and is forever commended in Scripture as a woman of God. (Romans 16:1-2) And then there was Jonathon, the son of Israel’s king Saul, who stepped aside and encouraged his best friend David to become the famous one of God’s choosing.
Encouraging others is not a product of our own circumstances, nor is it dependent upon the benefits we will receive. Encouragement is a response to what we see God planning to do in the life of another person. I know our lives are busy and we are overwhelmed with our own circumstances. We are most concerned about our own outcomes. It’s time for that to change. Let’s begin looking around at what God wants to do with other people, and let’s invest some time and resources in them.
Be an encourager, not because you have the time or the energy or because you feel like it, but because you see God at work and you care most about His purpose and plan in people’s lives. Do something today to encourage someone to be all that God wants them to be.