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July 25, 2008 / beidson

Mouths Like Moses

For all of the speaking we do about other people, it is likely that some of our speech is unwise and perhaps even sinful.  Our tongues are hard to tame, and it is true that only one Man has been able to rule over his tongue with perfect control.  The rest of us often give in to the desire to use them as weapons.

There is a time for confronting evil people, and for calling people to account for their sins, but too often we fail to see the hypocrisy in our own condemnation of others, because we too are guilty of the very things of which we are accusing them.

This does not mean that we must be perfect before we call others to account, or else we would never be able to speak to anyone.  We will never be sinless in this life; our flesh is too much with us and has yet to be redeemed.  But when we do open our mouths and speak, we must speak with the humility of one who has been saved by God’s grace in Christ, as one who has no merit of his own upon which to stand.  This will control our anger and keep our tongues under control.

Consider Moses.  He saw the evils committed against the people of God, and he knew the power of Pharoah to give life and take it away, and yet he spoke against him (though his brother Aaron was his mouthpiece).  Here is one use of the tongue: proclamation.  Moses’ words pronounced judgment on the enemy of God and salvation for the people of God.  Yet in all his literal cursing of Pharoah, he did not curse against him and speak out of place.  He spoke as God commanded him to speak.  He was a proclaimer, and in this, he was a deliverer.  His words proclaimed death to Pharoah but life to the Hebrews.  Moses spoke to people on behalf of God–this is proclamation in the biblical sense.

But Moses was more than a proclaimer; he did more than speak on behalf of God.  Moses was also an intercessor; he spoke to God on behalf of the people.  When Israel was under threat of God’s terrible and just wrath for making a golden calf and for rebelling against him in the wilderness, it was Moses who pleaded with God for the lives of the people.  It was Moses who held back the hand of God for ill by standing between God and Israel as their advocate, pleading for God to show mercy and grace. 

Moses was a man who spoke to God face to face, as one man speaks to another.  In all of his speaking, he recognized the sovereign power of God over the tongue.  He was a sinner, to be sure, and it is certain that in his whole life he was not sinless in his speech.  Yet he stands before us now as one we ought to imitate.  If we must speak against the enemies of God, let us do it with mouths like Moses.  When we see the failings of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, let us plead to God on their behalf, with mouths like Moses.  The tongue has the power to give life and take it away, and in this, we image Christ, who speaks all things into existence.

But more than Moses, we must look to Jesus, the one Man who speaks perfectly.  We can be sure that in his condemnation he does not speak unjustly, and in his blessing he does not show partiality.  He speaks perfectly as both proclaimer and intercessor.  Those who reject his gospel will hate to hear his perfect words, but those who long for his return will rejoice to hear the good words he speaks to God on our behalf.  Indeed, even Moses will be in our midst as one who rejoices over the words of Christ for us.

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