By Whose Authority?
by David Neal
When any sincere and true man of God comes speaking God’s Words (Jn 3:34 ), his authority and purpose will be questioned by those who are not willing to receive the message (usually the religious ones, Jn 13:20 ). Numbers 12:1-2, “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.” Moses’ authority was being questioned with the justification being a presumed personal fault. After all, how could Moses truly represent God if he is guilty of whatever the “ascribed (sought after) fault” may be? If he is not representing God, then his message and direction must be wrong. The purpose of this dispute was to exalt one’s self to gain authority (hath not God spoken through us) and also relegate (demote, lessen in importance) the position of Moses; and downgrade his message to just another opinion. The intent was that casting doubt upon Moses’ leadership and authority (Acts 7:35 ) would gain the desired position while also redirecting the course or “Way” (direction) in which things were proceeding. The direction (or message) was from God and was not being received (embraced to be followed) and this was what was being brought into question.
Throughout the history of the children of Israel, God sent prophets with messages that were constantly questioned and rejected by those who were not willing to receive them. The messenger’s authority was always questioned and dealt with in an inappropriate manner. The content of God’s messages was always rejected by self-seeking men. (Numbers 12:3: “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.”) Moses was humble and totally submitted to God. Moses was a true servant both to God and the people – never Lording over others. Moses had put his very salvation on the line (Ex 32:32) while interceding for the transgressions of the people. God’s authority is never gained (usurped, assumed) through exaltation (pride, arrogance, self-seeking), but is rather given through submission and obedience to God’s will. Moses was faithful in all his house (Heb 3:2). He did what God required of him and often suffered the rebuke of the people because of it. There are two types of people. Those who seek the flesh, who always reject the things of God. These whine and complain and are never satisfied (Num 11:1, 10, 33, 14:37 ). The second group are those who seek God through the Spirit (Jn 7:38 -39). These are submitted, make necessary sacrifices and proclaim (and thus live): “Thy will be done.” Numbers 12:4-8, “And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” God Himself will set things right when others seek to destroy the message He has placed in His true servants. God upholds those who are faithful to Him (Is 41:10). Isaiah 54:17, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” Notice that Moses’ submission and faithfulness to God gained him relationship and special place with God. God knew Moses by name (Ex 33:12, 17), and this is intimacy. Moses was allowed to see God’s similitude (but not His face). The righteousness (truth of the message) is of God, and not the man speaking it. The speaker is just submitted to God to do His will – at whatever personal cost. Those who do not receive God’s messages, surely do not know Him (Jn 13:20 ). Religious men (those seeking God their way, not submitted, fleshly) may question the authority of a true man of God; they may reject and invalidate the message; they may seek to gain authority; and they may justify their “own way” as being more true and righteous. One thing that these men cannot do (in such a rebellious condition) is have that intimate relationship with God. Their authority is their own and not from God. Their message is their own and not from God. The “way” they are leading is false and opposite (or away from) God. Their messages are only validated (authorized, confirmed, endorsed) by the desire of the flesh and the rebellious nature of man. Their wrongfulness will result in confusion. One thing they cannot take (make their own) is the truth and authority behind the messenger (that being the power of God). Moses submitted, obeyed and was led by God. Moses was a servant to all. God honored such faithfulness through the mighty miracles and workings He wrought through Moses. God gave Moses his authority. The works that Moses (or any true man of God) did bore witness that he was sent of God (Jn 5:36 , 10:25 ). Those who are self-seeking and fleshly will not be able to do such works. Their authority is not in God. Numbers 12:9-11, “And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed. And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned.” Apparently Miriam was the instigator in transgressing God’s will to seek her own. Aaron must have followed in her counsel. This is very similar to Adam and Eve (Eve transgressed and Adam followed). Moses forgave and prayed that the Lord would heal her, which God did after a period of chastisement (Num 21:13 -15). Let us beware what God said when He later warned once again: Deuteronomy 24:9, “Remember what the LORD thy God did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come forth out of Egypt.” Moses’ position was a foreshadowing of what Christ would later do perfectly. Hebrews 3:2, “Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.” Moses was a leader (Ex 3:10-12, 7:1, Acts 7:35); who bore the iniquities of the people (Deut 9:18-20, 24-25); and was an intercessor for the people before God (Ex 32:9-14, 31-32, 34:9, Num 11:1-2, 16:20-22, 42:46-47, 21:7, Deut 9:26, 10:10). He was servant, humbled and submitted to God’s direction (Heb 11:24 -29). Deuteronomy 34:10-12, “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.” God’s leaders will have these same characteristics. They will be humble; obedient to God’s purposes; always leading others toward God and not away; and will often suffer reproach for the messages given them by God. Moses was a great prophet (mighty before God), but even his authority was questioned by rebellious man.
God’s messages do not appeal to those seeking the flesh, because they require faith (a denial and bypassing of the flesh) and sacrifice, through submission and obedience. They require one to rise above the flesh to perform God’s purposes. God’s messages will destroy the things of the flesh (self-sufficiency, self-trust, self-seeking, pride, independence) and will leave one broken before God, and trusting in Him alone. God leads us back under His authority. This is what Moses leading the children of Israel through the wilderness toward the Promised Land represented. Those messages that placate (pacify, appease and sooth) the rebellious and sinful nature of man; those that exalt one to partake of all the world offers (things the flesh desires); and those that justify the love of such darkness, are surely leading opposite of God and keeping those who receive them in the rebellion that Christ came deliver from. Those that seek the flesh (will of man) will wonder in the desert until their carcasses fall by the way (Heb 3:8-12). Jesus later came speaking God’s Words and working God’s works. Christ’s authority was also questioned by rebellious man and He suffered great reproach. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (you can sin and not die, Gen 3:3-4, follow self will) and lead us back to God (1 Jn 3:8). Christ leads us through the wilderness (valley of the shadow of death) to break our rebellion (self-sufficiency, self-seeking, self-trust, independence, pride) such that we may enter the Promised Land (eternity, dwelling with God). The wilderness will reveal those who are seeking self (things of the flesh, their way) and those who are sincerely seeking God. Jesus leads, will you submit and follow?