Friday, August 24, 2012

The Grass is Greener…. – Part 2

Jude 1:9 (KJV)  Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
2 Kings 13:20-21 (KJV)  And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year.  And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.
I was recently asked about those two passages.  And, though they seem dissimilar, they really have close ties to each other.  And lead into our next topic.

If we go back a few verses from Jude 9, Jude speaks of turning grace to lasciviousness, then mentioning Sodom and Gomorrah. As you know, those two cities were known for their sexuality, much of it very different from what God allowed.  The focus was away from God and on themselves and their own pleasure.  When Leviticus 19:31 says, "Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.",  It speaks of wizards bringing people back to life by having other spirits reside in the body.  Both are against the heart of God for mankind.
God doesn't want Moses' bones to be used by the devil to create a situation that would draw their focus away from Him.  Remember that Moses has, throughout history, been held in high esteem.  And there are religions and religious groups who venerate the dead and, especially, the renowned dead.  So the archangel Michael was trying to prevent the devil from misusing the dead body of Moses to shift peoples' attention from God.  Particularly by having people thinking Moses had returned to life, when he was really just energized by a demonic spirit.
Then there’s 2Kings 13:20-21.  It's possible that there was power there that brought the other body back to life.  But we don't know that.  Everything written about Elisha tells us that he was close to God, followed God and had favor with God.  So, it's possible that the contact is what did the trick.  But consider what Paul says in Romans.  In verse 18, he talks about nothing good being in his fallen person.  He continues in that thought till, in verse 24, Paul calls himself a wretched man. In the next verse and the beginning of chapter 8, that changes.  Because Paul recognizes God working in his life.  It's the same for Elisha.  It's God's power, not Paul's, not Elisha's, that makes things happen.
The one similarity between the two passages is that we don't ever want our focus to shift to Elisha, or Moses, or anyone else for that matter.  We need to glorify God, not men.  Which brings us to the next couple of issues in not focusing on God.  Because it’s that “anyone else” focus that also gets us in trouble in our relationship with God.

There are two ways we can focus on “anyone else”.  One is ego -- giving our self interests and comfort a greater place than it deserves.  We’ll get to that.  The other is influence – for whatever reasons, another person’s opinions and statements sway our thinking.  And influence can be a huge problem.

Think about what would happen if Michael had been unsuccessful at preventing Moses from being being raised from the dead.  Imagine that happening today.  Every news reporter on the planet is going to want to report the things that Moses says.  Hopefully, as a reporter, they’d get an exclusive on at least one earth shattering statement or idea.  And what about how the rest of us would respond?

Few, if any of us, would question what Moses is saying or how he was raised from the dead.  Maybe the person that sits next to us in church.  But that’s only John or Bob or Mary or Sue.  And this is Moses we’re talking about.  See what happens?  Influence.  We see it every day.  Entertainers show us their public persona and we often take that as reality.  That outward shell may be sweet, or bold, or intriguing and mysterious.  When, in fact, they may be very normal like most of us, or they may secretly be abusive in private, or they might be fighting some addiction the rest of the world is unaware they have.  The influence is based on something unreal.

We’ll look at influence more, next time.  But what things take priority in your thinking?  Are you influenced by some form of glamor beyond actual reality?  Does the Word take priority over star power?

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