WHO OR WHAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE?
You hear it throughout the entire biblical witness: “Who am I?”
If the words aren’t used they’re implied. Sometimes the events recorded speak for themselves and if the words aren’t in the text we ourselves ask the question, “Who are they?”
Abraham with a worn out body and a wife who can’t conceive—how could they father/mother a nation and then a multitude of nations? An Abraham who twice puts his wife in harm’s way to save his own skin—how could he be worthy? A cheating Jacob who can’t trust God’s promises and twice cons his brother—how could he be worthy to become the father of a nation that under God blesses the human family? An impish Joseph who babbles on about his dreams and coming exaltation until even his doting father has had enough of it; Joseph, who ends up in prison—how could he become God’s instrument of blessing to the nations? Moses, a fugitive from Egyptian justice, sulking and refusing to give his firstborn to God [see Exodus 4:22-26, he had called his son "stranger" or "alien" and had refused to circumcise him and so acknowledge him as God's son in covenant]; Moses who doesn’t want the job of deliverer—how could he be the one to deliver an enslaved nation and bring it to the promised land? The fearful Joshua who worries about how he can fill the role of “the legend” Moses or Gideon [Judges 6] who in light of the current and ongoing tragedy resents old stories about God’s past deeds in the Exodus and admits he is the least of the least [and then there’s David]—how could these unworthy and unfitted people be the ones through whom deliverance is brought to the enslaved and blind and weak and embittered. How could they bring hope and freedom? In light of the harsh and stubborn facts and in light of the unfitness of the people called by God how could deliverance come?
In their own way they all say what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, when he is stunned by the truth that he is a carrier of the gospel that triggers life and death for all who hear and he mutters: “Who is sufficient for these things?” His answer in 3:5, “Our sufficiency is not of ourselves—it’s of God!”
The recurring phrase in the OT texts alluded to above is this: "I am with you.”
In Exodus 3:10 Moses’ question, “Who am I?” is answered in 3:11 by God’s, “I am with you.” Moses gets the message and in Exodus 33:12-17 he pursues God for assurance that in one form or another he will be with him and the nation. “How will it be known that we are like no other nation unless you are with us?” Moses asks and God gives assurance: "I will be with you!". See the text.
It’s never about our worthiness, fitness or ability—the difference is about who is with us! It's never about our inability or our unfitness; it's always about His being with us!
Our unworthiness and unfitness is an undoubted reality. It takes God—that God—to work it all out and bring his overarching purpose to a glorious conclusion in fulfillment! [“It is finished!”] Whatever the case is with us, God is always worthy and able! See Revelation 4:10-11; 5:2, 5, 9, 12-13.
Deliverance isn’t about our well-heeled academics, our preachers or shepherds or worship leaders or educational directors or programs; assurance is not to be found in the very large assemblies we glory in [Gideon's 300 has a message] nor are we to whine about the power and menace of our opponents compared to our tiny flocks and their weakness [Deuteronomy 7:17 and Luke 12:32 have a message for those of us in such situations]. It’s all about who is with us! The engine that drives God’s redeeming purpose that has climaxed in Jesus is not his gifts but himself! Abraham came to know that and that’s why he lifted the knife to kill the boy—the gift from God and the one on whom Abraham’s future seemed to hang. He came to know that his future lay solely in the hands of the God who watched him take that three-day ride into hell [Von Rad].
That constant question, "Who am I" or "Who are we?" and God's constant answer to such a question comes to its glorious climax in the Incarnation and we hear Jesus called "Immanuel". God is with us! And that is not an event that took place 2,000 years ago and to be left as ancient history. Before he went away saying he would be back [see Acts 1:9-11] he said this:
“Go disciple the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit…and lo I am with you always even until the world (age) ends.” Matthew 28:19-20.
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.