Learning from the OT Leaders : Deborah – A Judge, a Prophetess and a Warrior

Series: General | Title: Learning from the OT Leaders : Deborah – A Judge, a Prophetess and a Warrior | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday February 25, 2018

Deborah – A Judge, a Prophetess and a Warrior

Another great leader from the Old Testament – a woman leader, Deborah.  A judge and a prophet of Israel.  Let us look at the history of what happened during that time.

  • Joshua was a servant; he was serving Moses for a long time.  He was also a powerful leader and a mighty warrior.
  • After the death of Moses, Joshua took over and he brought the children of Israel into the land of Canaan.  Moses was called to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt and Joshua was called to bring then into Canaan.
  • Joshua exhibited his military power as he was leading the army against the inhabitants of the land.  Think about Jericho, many great accomplishments were achieved by this great man of God, Joshua.
  • Following the death of Joshua, the Israelites found themselves without a leader.  Moses invested in the life of Joshua, but Joshua left the children of Israel without any leader.  It is really sad to know that there was no leader in the land (Judges 1 and 2).
  • The years of battle continued because the children of God were thrown into the blessed land but then they had inhabitants in the land.  The children of Israel continued to fight, there was much bloodshed that was required to further inherit the land.  There was a lack of leadership.  That was the time God raised Judges, they are very important in the plan of God.
  • Judges ruled the nation for a couple of years.  They are not like modern day judges, but they have more responsibility.
  • They were responsible for the moral life of people, military life and they had to exhort the people of God to follow God.
  • Judges had to lead them in the battle.  They had to rise people in God and ensure the battlefield is ready for battle at any point of time.  There is a lot of responsibility that was vested in the judges.

The Bible says there were around 12 to 15 judges, it all depends on how you count them.
Judges including Eli and Samuel were judging the nation for a short period of time.  If you look at the history and try to find out these years from 1350 to 1050 before Christ, that’s the period judges were ruling the nation.  That’s around 300 years.
Judges Chapter 4 and 5 describe the story of the Jewish leader – Deborah.  She is the only female judge mentioned in the book of Judges.  She was a woman who followed God and was greatly anointed and used by God.
Judges 4:1-10 When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord.  So the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor.  The commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth Hagoyim.  And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he had harshly oppressed the children of Israel.  Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time.  And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim.  And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.  Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, “Has not the Lord God of Israel commanded, ‘Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand’?”And Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!” So she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. ” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.  10 And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; he went up with ten thousand men under his command, and Deborah went up with him.

  • Deborah lived during a period of oppression by a Canaanite King Jabin, who oppressed the Israelites for 20 long years.
  • We first meet Deborah in Judges 4:4.  She is prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth.  She was judging Israel at that time.
  • Deborah had a shop that was set up under a tree in the mountains of Ephraim called the palm tree of Deborah.  The children of Israel came up there to her shop for judgement.  Judgement was a great issue in the land because millions of people are without a leader, without a written constitution, having no rules and law enforcement agencies.  You can imagine the fight going on every day.  They need judgement every day.
  • God led Deborah to summon Barak and this is what God told through Deborah to Barak – you need to gather 10,000 troops and battle against Jabin, the king of Canaan and his commander Sisera.
  • Victory is rest assured in the Word of God as Deborah is a prophetess and whatever she says comes true.
  • Barak did not agree to go by himself, he asked Deborah to come with him for him to go.
  • Deborah agreed to that but claimed that the victory will belong to the woman, it will not go for the man.
  • As planned the battle took place.  The armies of Jabin were totally destroyed by these 10,000 troops going under the leadership of Barak and Deborah.
  • Sisera ran out for his life, he was the only one who escaped.  He ran to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite.  She welcomes him and as he entered, she covered him with a blanket.  Sisera is fully covered and thought that she was trying to protect him.  Jael took him inside and Sisera asked for water and she gave him a bowl of milk.  Sisera started falling asleep.  The moment Sisera slept, Jael took a tent nail and drew the nail on his head to the ground.  He is dead.
  • Barak came running to the tent and was informed by Jail that Sisera died.  The whole army died and eventually King Jabin also died.  They took the victory; it came because of one woman – Deborah.

Judges chapter 5 is Deborah’s song of worship as she gained great victory on that day.

  • If we go through the lyrics, we see that they reveal more details about what really took place in the battle and how God intervened on behalf of His people.
  • At the end of chapter 5 verse 31 it concludes saying that they took a great victory over the Canaanites.  The Bible says there was no war for 40 long years.  It all happened because of one great leader – Deborah.

We are going to see couple of leadership qualities from the life of Deborah.

1. Leaders are just instruments in the hands of God, what matters is God’s power

Throughout the OT & NT we see men and women were used by God as weapons or instruments in His hands.  Man or woman, strong or weak, confident or hesitant, willing or unwilling, God used them as instruments to fulfill God’s purpose.

  • Here we see Deborah being used in a mighty way.
  • She was a family woman – she was a wife of Lapidoth, but she was just an ordinary woman like anyone else.
  • But Bible says God filled her with the supernatural ability of prophecy.
  • Deborah was a woman of God she had a great power within her to foretell the future of the nation.  At that time God raised prophets and prophetess just to speak to the people, warning about their sinful nature and to prophesy about the things which are yet to happen in their nation so that people are led to God.  Deborah was filled with wisdom because you need wisdom for judgement.

Let us closely observe the daily life of Deborah.  She used to do a couple of things every day in her life.  Infact, she had three different offices, she was  a very busy personality.  Sometimes we think that we are very busy but think about Deborah.

  1. First office – Judge: The Bible says she comes and opens her shop every morning under the palm tree of Deborah, people are already in a line from early in the morning.
    Somebody’s cattle are taken away, house was broken into, jewelry is missing, children are missing, somebody fought with someone else, separated families – many such issues were being addressed.  Deborah was very committed; she was judging people from morning to evening.
  2. Second office – she was a prophetess.  She brought the Word of God to people; she was a very busy personality.  Deborah had a revelation from God, heard a Word from God, she called Barak and told him to fight with the king who had oppressed them for 20 long years.
  3. Thirdly – Deborah was a warrior.  She was willing to go to war against Sisera, when Barak said that he would not go if Deborah would not go with him.

She was a judge, a prophetess and a warrior.

  • There is no reason to doubt that she was an instrument in the hands of God.
  • She was not lazy, she was completely committed to her call, she was available to be used by God.
  • She was willing to take risks in her life.

When she did all the above, the power of God was seen.  Leaders are just instruments in the hands of God, but what matters is the power of God.  God will honor a leader when he or she is committed to the call.  We know that we are all called to lead, but when we remain committed to the call, God honors our commitment.  When God honors us, we will see supernatural things happening.  Even though leaders are ordinary people like Deborah – a family woman.  Accord to her word, the entire army of King Jabin was totally destroyed.

2. Leaders exhibit God’s tender care for His people

  • Deborah utilized all her ability to serve God and people.
  • She was not selfish; she was willing to use all her abilities to judge the people of Israel.
  • There was a great need for a judge among the people as they were suffering, they were going through great difficulty and pain.
  • Deborah was right there; she was caring for His people.  Her focus was on helping people, so that their lives will turn to God.  It’s the desire of any leader to turn people to God.  We see Deborah caring for her people from morning to evening.
  • At times people are oppressed without getting proper judgement.

Judges 5:7 Village life ceased, it ceased in Israel, Until I, Deborah, arose, Arose a mother in Israel.

Deborah arose as a mother for the children of Israel, she considered them as her own children.  She was there for her people, judging and guiding them to a better life.  Leaders exhibit God’s tender care for His people.  Today the world expects great leaders.  When we look at our present situation, if we go either to downtown around 10 or 11 at night, we see people out there in the streets, they are like orphans.  Although they have physical or biological parents, something is missing in their lives.

  • They are missing care and love physically
  • Those who are having no one to guide spiritually
  • Those who are not shown the way of eternity

Somebody to care for them like a mother.  Sometimes when we are so selfish, we don’t even care about what is going on in our next door.  We see Deborah caring for her people as her own children.  She was spiritually helping them to be nurtured and motivated.  There was nobody to show them eternity, truth and lead them in the ways of God.  But Deborah was right there.
If you consider yourself as a leader, what is important in your life is to care for others.  At times all of us are very selfish.  We don’t worry about others.  It’s a godly thing to care for others, God honors us.

  • Mother Teresa said, “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody is a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat”.
  • Jesus the good shepherd, a great leaders taught on how to care for the sheep.  John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”

  • Our God is a God who takes care of His people as a shepherd: Isaiah 40:11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.

Do you know there are people who walk into the churches and nobody speaks to them or cares for them.  They just walk into the church and walk out.  There are churches in this country and city where people into the churches and nobody cares.  The question is, will you care for somebody who just walks into the church for the first time? Do you take time to go talk to them and lead them and guide them? Today there are a lot of people who have a lot of ability in them but they’re not able to come up because there is nobody to lead them or put them in the right direction.

God has called you as a leader, you have a responsibility, you cannot deny that.  You have a responsibility for your neighbor, for your city.  One thing is to pray another thing is to do.  Deborah was not just praying she was right out there doing.  We cannot lead if we cannot sacrifice.  God is looking for somebody who is willing to sacrifice.

There are millions out there who need a leader.

3. Deborah‘s life is a role model of Godly Faith, Wisdom, Boldness and Worship

Let us ask this question – what do you find in yourself? Do we find godly faith within us? Wisdom? Boldness? Are we able to worship God?

Godly faith:

  • Deborah spoke prophetically to Barak and said God will give Sisera in your hands, go for the battle.  This woman of God put all her faith in God, expecting that to happen.  She believed and she agreed with God, Lord if you have spoken to me that will happen.  She was a woman of faith.  But being a woman, she had so much wisdom to judge the people of Israel day in and day out.  Boldness – she was a very bold leader.
  • When Barak said that he cannot go by himself, Deborah was right there to go with him.
  •  A mighty woman of God with such great boldness.

Wisdom:

Judging people requires a lot of wisdom. Every decision is going to be important. Every word is important.  God wants us to have wisdom as we lead.

Proverbs 4:5-7 Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. 6 Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you. 7 Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.

Boldness:
They were oppressed for 20 years, Deborah rose like a lion and she went and fought with Sisera and his army and brought victory, the land was filled with great joy and peace for 40 long years.

Worship:
Deborah’s worship is filled in Judges Chapter 5.
Judges 5:2-3 “When leaders lead in Israel, When the people willingly offer themselves, Bless the Lord! “Hear, O kings! Give ear, O princes! I, even I, will sing to the Lord;  I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel.  When she worshiped God:
Judges 40:31 “Thus let all Your enemies perish, O Lord!  But let those who love Him be like the sun When it comes out in full strength. ”

Bible says, So the land had rest for forty years.

4. Women are called, your calling comes through your involvement

Deborah’s calling came through her involvement in the community.

  • Deborah’s passion was His people, she had a compassion to listen to the complains of the people.  Its very hard to listen to people, but we have to – as a leader God wants us to listen to the people.  Deborah was really good, from morning to evening she was listening to her people.
  • Her heart was just with her people, those who are going through injustice and she wanted to bring justice in their lives.
  • We need to ask this question as leaders – Lord, where is my heart, what am I trying to do Lord?

Calling of Women into the leadership

As a woman how do you know if you are called into leadership? How do you discern God’s call in your life? We know that God has been talking to women.  Women are oppressed in churches today, saying that they need to be quiet, that they cannot speak – only men are called.  It’s a deception.  There are churches today in the city where the women cannot lead.  So we need to be careful.  This is what they quote,

  • God created Eve as a helper to Adam.  That is true.  They say that women are not to lead, they have to support their husband.  Yes, they are supposed to support their husband and encourage them but that does not mean that they should not lead.
  • On the other hand people quote this scripture from 1 Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silent in the churches for they are not permitted to speak.  They wrongly quote this scripture.
    Paul was taking in a different context where at that time in Corinth women were totally uneducated and when they come to church, they were running and talking.  Paul was annoyed by the things that were happening and said that women are not supposed to speak in church.  So he wanted them to ask any doubts to their husbands.  God cannot use women in the church is a lie.
  •  It is time to come out of your thinking.  God cannot use you if you limit yourself.

If we look throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament we see great leaders.
Deborah being used by God as a leader

  1. Ruth a great woman of God. Noami’s husband died and Ruth married Boaz and they had son named Obed whose son is Jesse and whose son is David.  In that same lineage Jesus came.  A great leader Ruth!
  2. Esther – God brought her to bring escape from the hands of the spies
  3. Rahab – God used Rahab to protect the spies. Rahab was blessed, and her household was spared certain death.
  4. Hu(o)ldah the prophetess, God used Huldah to bring God’s Word to the High Priest and to the King of the Nation.
  5. In the NT during the ministry of Jesus, the Samaritan woman was commissioned to preach Jesus in her village, Mary Magdalene was commissioned to preach the resurrection of Jesus to the other disciples
  6. Other Godly women who lead, preached and taught are
  7. Priscilla instructs Apollos – Acts 18:24-26,
  8. Paul sends greeting to the apostles Mary and Junia. – Romans 16:6-7
  9. Phoebe (Feebee)  is named as a deacon in the church. – Romans 16:1
  10. Lydia is named as a powerful influential woman in the community, Acts 16:14-1

God used women in many different ways in the Old and the New Testament.
Deborah’s calling came through her involvement.

  • She was not sitting at home with her talents and gifts.
  • She was sitting in a public place where she could be used by God.
  • I am talking to women – If God has given you a talent or passion to pray, a gift to minister, don’t sit inside your house. You need to come out to be used by God.Husbands,
  • Don’t shut your wives inside, release them for the will of God.
  • I come across men, who don’t do anything for God and who don’t allow their spouses to do anything.
  • Encourage, motivate them to minister to others.
  • If they are willing to study theology, send them to Bible schools
  • If they are willing to participate in a particular ministry, encourage them to go for it.
  • God’s calling and anointing is common for everyone irrespective of their gender

Deborah would have never thought that God would use her in such a way, she fought against a mighty King Jabin and won victory.  Deborah found her calling to go in war with Jabin through her involvement in the community.

There is so much potential within you, you are called to lead, Deborah was not just a judge, she had the gift of prophesy, she was not just a leader, she was a warrior.

God wants you to know that and come out of what is holding you today.

Summary:

  1. Leaders are just instruments in the hands of God, what matters is God’s power
  2. Leaders exhibit God’s tender care for His people
  3. Deborah‘s life is a role model of Godly Faith, Wisdom, Boldness and Worship
  4. Women are called, your calling comes through your involvement

Learning from the OT Leaders : Elijah – Naturally Supernatural

 

Series: General | Title: Learning from the OT Leaders : Elijah – Naturally Supernatural | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday February 18, 2018

Elijah – Naturally Supernatural

In this sermon, we are going to talk about another great leader from the Old Testament – Elijah.  A prophetic voice in the wilderness rather than that, a prophetic voice in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  When we think of Elijah, fire comes in our mind.  Some may say that bread and meat comes in their mind but for now let that be fire.

Historical Timeline

I want to take you through a historical timeline for us to understand the situation in which Elijah was operating in.  This is very important for this sermon.  I want to take you back a thousand years before Christ.

  • The Kingdom of Israel was under the leadership of Saul, David and Solomon from 1030 to 931 BC.  In 931 BC the kingdom was divided, it’s a biblical story, into Northern Kingdom and Southern Kingdom.
  • The Northern kingdom was called the Kingdom of Israel or the Kingdom of Samaria which include the cities of Shechem and the city of Samaria.
  • The Southern Kingdom was called the Kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem was the capital city of the Southern Kingdom.
  • The Northern Kingdom was formed by ten tribes except the tribe of Judah and Benjamin and the rulership was under Jeroboam. He’s from the tribe of Ephraim.
  • The Southern Kingdom was formed by two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, under the leadership of Rehoboam – son of King Solomon.
  • Prophets like Elijah, Elisha, Amos and Hosea – they prophesied in the Northern Kingdom.  Prophets such as Obadiah, Joel, Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Ezekiel, Daniel, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi – they prophesied in the Southern Kingdom over a period of time under the rulership of many kings.
  • Now remember that Elijah prophesied in the Northern Kingdom around 904 to 850 BC – for over 50 years. During the time of Elijah, the Northern Kingdom was under the rulership of King Ahab.
  • Elijah lived during the reign of Israelite Kings Ahab, and a short time under the King Ahaziah and Jehoram during the Ninth Century.  We can place Elijah on the timeline somewhere around 864 BC – that was the time Elijah was operating under the anointing that God has given, he was natural, but he was supernatural too.

Historical Setting

A quick historical setting to know the condition of the Kingdom of Israel at the moment when Elijah was prophesying.

  • The Israelite King by name Omri had allied himself with the Phoenician cities of the coast and his son Ahab who was married to Jezebel. Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal – the king of Tyre and Sidon.
  • Ethbaal was a priest in the temple of Astarte, which is the Phoenician equivalent of Roman Venus or Greek Aphrodite – goddess of love, beauty and sexuality.
  • Under Astarte, sexual immorality was part of the worship.
  • The priest of Astarte was a prostitute. Ahab should have never married Jezebel, but he did.

Her name Jezebel originally means the prince Baal exists.  We remember Baal was a weather god and he was worshiped in the Syro-Palestinian world in Biblical Hebrew Jezebel name simply means – there is no nobility.

  • Now Jezebel is an evil woman.  As Ahab married Jezebel, he went to serve and worshiped Baal.  So Ahab became a Baal worshiper at the time when Elijah appeared in front of him.
  • Ahab set up an altar in the temple of Baal.

So when the wicked King Ahab married a wicked woman Jezebel, the daughter of the priest of Astarte, the wickedness in the Kingdom of Israel multiplied.  Everywhere there were temples made for Astarte and statues were made for Jezebel.
We read that in 1 Kings 16:29-33 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel;  and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years.  30 Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him.  31 And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him.  32 Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.  33 And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.

Sudden Introduction of Elijah

Ahab was such a wicked king and Jezebel added to him and they literally spoiled the land, you can imagine the wrath of God that is about to come upon this land.  At that set up Elijah appeared suddenly in front of King Ahab as we read in 1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”
When a nation is going through such a wicked situation God brought this great leader who is now standing in front of Ahab.  The nation of Israel is going to be punished for all the support they  have been providing for the cult religion.

  • Elijah was a great leader who appeared on a political and religious set up to challenge the apostasy – the falling apart or the renunciation of faith. Everybody was denying God and were worshiping Baal.
  • Elijah came at the right time and he challenged the cult leaders like King Ahab and Jezebel.
  • He confronted them physically and he challenged the people of Israel saying, how long will you falter between two opinions.  If the Lord if God, follow Him, or if it is Baal follow Baal.
  • If we think about Elijah, it is very interesting as the Word of God does not say that he has any family, he had no friends either. He had nobody to stand with, he was just all alone. But he was totally depending on God.

Elijah’s ministry is characterized by a couple of supernatural instances.

  1. Elijah was fed by a raven in the brook of Cherith.  He was drinking water from the brook. (17:1-6)
  2. Elijah was asked to go to Zarephath to serve the widow, she had a bin of flour and a jar of oil.  She wanted to cook bread and eat the last meal with her son, and they wanted to die. (17:8-16)
  3. There was a great famine and God sent Elijah to minister to her, the son died eventually, and God sent Elijah again to revive the son.  Miraculous things were happening. (17:17-23)
  4. Fire came down in Mount Carmel when Elijah was standing in front of all the Baal prophets.  The fire of God came and consumed all the sacrifices. (18:36-38)
  5. All supernatural things were happening in Elijah’s life but he was also afraid of Jezebel at times.  He came under the broom tree and he was crying out to God and he was praying that he might die.  He said, Lord it is enough, take my life.  Because I am nothing, I am nobody and I am not better than my fathers.  An angel of God appeared there suddenly, fed him and told him, you need to walk, you need to run for a long time Elijah (19:5-7).  The Bible says Elijah could walk forty days and forty nights with the meal that was fed by the angel.  How good would it have been if you are fed by the angel of God?  We don’t need to buy our provisions.
  6. Elijah again called the fire from heaven and he consumed the captain along with 50 men of the King Ahaziah.  A man with fire. (2 Kings 1:9-12)
  7. He divided the Jordan river and walked through river Jordan, miraculous things. (2 Kings 2-8)
  8. Eventually he was raptured into the presence of God in a whirlwind, he did not see physical death. (2:11)

His leadership qualities are very evident as he proved himself to be a leader in a non-religious environment.  Elijah’s ministry is made of several episodes.

1. Leaders are Ordinary People

Bible says Elijah was a man with a nature like us.  2 Kings 1:8 They replied, “He had a garment of hair and had a leather belt around his waist.”

  • Elijah was an ordinary man living in the wilderness.
  • Most of leaders in the Bible were down to earth.
  • Think about Moses – a great man of God but he was just a shepherd. David – a shepherd boy.  Noah – although he was not a carpenter, he was forced to be one.  Abraham – his father was an idol worshiper, God pulled him out of his traditions.
  • Most of the leaders in the Word of God are just ordinary men and women like us and God used the ordinary to do extraordinary things.
    James 5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, he prayed earnestly that it would not rain;  and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months
    What is your nature today?  Rebelling?  Is that our nature?  At times we rebel, we rebel against God too.
    Elijah was like our nature, at times we are lazy, Elijah was like us.
  • We don’t know about his childhood and upbringing at all.
  • But looks like Elijah had a very humble beginning.

1 Kings 17:1-3 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Cherith Ravine, east of the Jordan.  You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.” So he did what the Lord had told him.  He went to the Cherith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there.  The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.

Think about the beginning of this great man of God, he had a very humble beginning.  Some of us complain when we come to this nation, I don’t have what I used to have in my nation.  I’m not blessed with all the blessings that I still experience when I go back to my nation.  We are paid hourly and sometimes we are paid less than the minimum salary, we have complaints.  Do you?  Yes?  But think about Elijah, he had a very humble beginning.  He was a prophet and nature obeyed his word.  But where is he sitting now?  Near a brook.

  • Think about his life, he had to start his career with the ration that was provided every day, limited food.  How much can a raven carry?
  • Every morning he had to wait for the raven to come.  He had to look at all the directions as to where the raven is coming from.  If the raven doesn’t come, he has to starve. Think about ourselves being in that situation, we complain.
  • He had to drink the water from the river.
  • The Bible says the brook dried one day, that means he had no water.  Leaders are ordinary people.  When we look at somebody who is leading, they may appear very great in front of people but they have an ordinary life like you and me.  They go through more than what we go through.  Think about the great leaders of this nation, how much they struggle, the number of people they deal with, the amount of opposition they face, how many talks they need to deliver.  Think about those lives, leaders are ordinary people, they are just like us.
  • Elijah went through all the toughness and roughness of life as he was beginning his ministry.  Same thing with us.
  • At times he felt like giving up.  Don’t we feel that too?  Elijah was just not an exemption he was just going through the same thing.

To become a leader, we don’t have to be rich or popular, or short or tall, we don’t need to have a great personality to become a leader.  Leaders are ordinary people.  Elijah is a hairy man, but he is a great leader.

2. Leaders never give up in Prayer

1 Kings 18:41-46 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, 43 and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.” 44 Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab,  ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’ ” 45 Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel. 46 Then the hand of the Lord came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Remember this, Elijah declared three years of drought.  When the drought ended, Elijah was not sure what should come when the drought ends.  He was not sure whether it is not going to rain or not as the clouds were clear.  Because Elijah spoke God’s Word, it is supposed to rain.  Elijah prophesied over the situation saying that there will not be rain for three years.  But he did not expect it to rain automatically.  Elijah went to pray.  His face touched the ground and put his face between his knees.  Some of may not be able to do this.  Why was Elijah in such a situation praying to God?  Humiliating himself and humbling himself?  Prophesy has to come true.  Will a prophesy come true automatically on itself?  No.  Elijah had to pray.

  • A Prophesy will come true when we pray about it.
  • Prophecy comes true when we obey God and follow His footsteps
  • When we cancel the opposing forces of the enemy through prayer a prophesy comes true

Elijah prophesied, but the prophecy did not come true until he prayed for that.  Sometimes we have complained, saying God spoke to me through the man of God and prophesied to me but things did not happen.  Whose problem is it? God’s problem?  Its our problem!  We think that things will happen automatically, no that is not the case.  When we get Prophetic words, God wants us to hold onto it and keep praying about it.  Keep fasting and praying about it. When the prophetic word comes to you, Satan will become very active.  He will try his level best to make sure that the prophetic word will not come true in your life.  We need to cancel all powers of the devil; to make sure that the prophetic word comes true in your life.  That is exactly what Elijah is doing right now.

Verse 44 says – before he even went to pray, as per his faith, he says he hears a sound of abundance rain.  But there was no rain, yet Elijah could hear that.  A man of great faith.

  • He went to Mount Carmel a few days before, and fire had come down.
  • There he had knelt down and put his face between his knees;  his posture tells us that he is humbling himself to pray.
    James 5:16-18 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

He was a righteous man and he prayed earnestly.  Now he is praying and humbling himself asking God so that the prophecy will come true.  Leaders never give up in prayer.  Leading people involves responsibility and we need to pray about it.

3. Leaders are always Zealous for God

  • Elijah’s life tells us that leaders have a great zeal for God.
  • Leaders are determined, no matter what comes in my way, I will not walk away from God.
  • They are determined to achieve what God wants them to achieve.  There will be ups and downs, just like the life of Elijah.  But we should never lose the zeal. Leaders never take a step backward, instead they will move forward.
  • Leaders have a burning zeal within them for God.  Do you have the zeal with you right now?
  • When things are not going well, leaders don’t keep quiet, they will do something about it.
  • They don’t try to adjust or compromise, they will try to do what God wants them to do.
  • When they see things that are not in order, they burst out and they try to bring things into discipline.

1 Kings 19:10 So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
1 Kings 19:14 And he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

Do you know when, where, why and how the zeal for God comes in the life of a leader?

  • When people forget the covenant (the Word of God) – a zeal comes within the heart;  God woke him up in the middle of the night and asked him to pray.  Why does God do that?  God does that in many others’ life too.  The burning zeal comes to us when we see people not walking according to the Word of God.
  • Elijah found that altars are brought down.  What does it mean?  It means there is no prayer.  Elijah saw this happening in front of him, the Word of God was being turned down, there was no prayer.
  • Even the prophets were being killed, that means the prophetic voice ceases – we stop hearing from God.  How can a true leader keep himself quiet when he sees people not praying, stop listening to God and don’t read the Word of God?  The zeal inside a true leader rises to bring back the order.

Psalm 119:139 My zeal has consumed me because my enemies have forgotten your words.
Think about it, a very meaningful Psalm.  Who has forgotten the Word of God?  Not his family, not his church, but his enemies.  If we were there we pray saying, Lord put them under wrath, take them to hell.  But the Psalmist says, my zeal has consumed me.  He couldn’t sleep, eat or drink.  He has been fasting, for whom?  For his enemies.  The zeal of God shakes a man or woman of God.  At the same time, he is an intercessor.  Leaders are intercessors too.

  • Elijah was challenging people to follow God or Baal.
  • Elijah saw the people of God coming to church giving offerings and also going to pagan festivals and making their sacrifices.
  • Elijah saw people sitting in the front row of the church, taking part in the Holy Communion.  They will also go there and eat food that are offered to idols.
  • He saw people brining tithes and offering to the church and sacrificing at the pagan altar

He saw this happening and he could not keep quiet.  Elijah came to the people of God, not the enemies but his own people – children of Israel.
1 Kings 18:21 And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions?  If the Lord is God, follow Him;  but if Baal, follow him.”  But the people answered him not a word. 

Elijah is saying separate yourself from this wicked generation.

4. Great leaders are hard to be found, but they are easy to be replaced

  • True leaders also identify their successor, they mentor them and train them.
  • Success without a successor is a failure.
  • True leaders don’t invest in buildings, but they invest in the lives of the people.  You are called to lead and invest, to invest in the lives of our children.  More than buying homes, investing in stock market, we need to invest in the life of our children.  True leaders invest in the life of people.
  • True leaders, at the end of their lives, make their lives unnecessary – Myles Munroe (Bahamian Minister – in his last Television interview before his death).  True leaders when they come to the end of their life don’t hold anything with them because they know they are going to go away.  Its already handed over.  Even the Bahamas Ministry, when he is gone, the ministry is still continuing.  He has already invested in the lives of people there.

God spoke to Elijah, go return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus and when you arrive, you will see Elisha the Shaphat of Abel-Meholah plowing in the field.  You shall go and anoint him as a prophet to take your place.
1 Kings 19:19-21 So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth.  Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. 20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 21 So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

Elisha was taken by Elijah during the short span of time to train him in the ministry.  Elijah wanted to go from Gilgal to Bethel and Elisha wanted to come with him.  But Elijah wanted Elisha to stay, but Elisha insisted to come with Elijah.  As a leader Elijah took Elisha there and from Bethel to Jericho, from Jericho to Jordan before he was caught up in the whirlwind.  Elisha was willing to make his successor without holding anything in him.

Great leaders train their successor.

  • Moses left Joshua, when Moses was gone, Joshua was right there to take up the job.
  • Jesus trained twelve disciples.
  • Apostle Paul trained Timothy and Titus.
  • Here we see Elijah training Elisha so that the next leader can be easily found.

God wants us to invest in the life of people, more than property or buildings.

  • God certainly wants us to invest in the life of our children.
  • God wants us to invest in the life of people that God has given in our hands.
  • God wants us to invest in the church to bring up leadership in the church.

Elijah was a very rare personality;  we cannot find another Elijah.  God brought him in the right time in the history.  But Elisha was already there, it was not hard to replace Elijah.  When Elijah was gone, he was already there for the job.   He went back to the river Jordan, in the same way Elijah parted the river Jordan Elisha did.
We believe that God has called each one of us to lead and we can apply these principles of a great leader in our own lives.

Summary:

  1. Leaders are ordinary people
  2. Leaders Never Give up in Prayer
  3. Leaders are always zealous for God
  4. Great leaders are hard to be found, but they are easy to be replaced

Learning from the OT Leaders : Nehemiah – A Cupbearer and A Reformer

Series: General | Title: Learning from the OT Leaders : Nehemiah – A Cupbearer and A Reformer | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday February 04, 2018

Nehemiah – A Cupbearer and A Reformer

Another great leader from the Old Testament is Nehemiah.  This sermon will focus on this great man of God and the leadership qualities that the Bible teaches about Nehemiah.  As we know the history of God’s children in the land of Babylon – children of Israel were taken as captives in the year 605 BC to Babylon by king Nebuchadnezzar.  They lived in the captivity for 70 long years and God orchestrated the return very well and he did everything in a supernatural way.

  • The first batch of captives returned under the leadership of Zerubbabel in the year 538 BC. God stirred up the mind of a king by name Cyrus to build the temple of God and he released Zerubbabel to go back to Jerusalem so that he could start the building work.
  • The second batch of exiles were released 80 years after the return of the first batch of the children of Israel. This happened in the year 458 BC under the leadership of Ezra, a scribe and priest.  Under his leadership the second batch of the children of Israel returned to Jerusalem from Babylon.
  • 14 years down the line since Ezra brought the second batch of exiles, the third batch of exiles were returning to Jerusalem from Babylon in the year 444 BC. God called a man by name Nehemiah to bring the remnants of the children of Israel who were left in Babylon to bring them back to Jerusalem.

Quick run-through of the book of Nehemiah

There are 13 chapters in the book of Nehemiah, in this Scripture reading there will be a quick run-through of these chapters.

Nehemiah 1:1-4  The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah.  It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah;  and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.  And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach.  The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.” So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days;  I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 

Chapter 1

In those days, the wall of the city was extremely important.  A city without a wall is vulnerable to the attack of the enemy at any point of time.  The citizens of a city without any wall is the same as no citizens without any protection – they are not safe.  The Bible says that when Nehemiah heard the report, he sat down and wept for several days.   He was mourning, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.  All that was told to Nehemiah was that the wall is broken down.  The children of Israel who returned from the first and second batch are not doing good, they are not very safe as the wall is broken down.  When Nehemiah heard about this, he was crying to God.

Chapter 2

In Nehemiah Chapter 2, the Bible says that Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the king.  Many kings in those days were poisoned by people who serve the kings.  Because of that reason, the kings wanted to appoint someone who is trustworthy and here we see King Artaxerxes appointed Nehemiah as a cupbearer.  Nehemiah is not just a cupbearer; he is in a powerful position – it is the same as being a prime minister of that nation.  One fine morning, when Nehemiah came with a cup of wine, the king asked him why his face looked so sad.  You are not so often, but something is wrong with you.  The king realized that it is not a physical sickness, but it is the sickness of the heart.  Nehemiah was scared when he heard this from the king and said, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?” He says he was very sick in his heart when he heard this message.

The king asked Nehemiah – “What is it that you want?” Nehemiah then silently prayed in his heart before answering the king.  He then asked to be sent to the city of Judah.  Nehemiah is in Babylon serving a foreign king and he is asking him to send him back to his nation because the nation is buried.  He wants to rebuild the walls.  The Bible says that God worked in the mind of king Artaxerxes and it pleased the king to send Nehemiah.  Nehemiah now arrived in the city of Jerusalem and he spent three nights just to see the condition of the wall and he found that all the walls were ruined, shattered and brought to the ground.  Nehemiah challenged the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.  The scriptures say, at the end of Chapter 2, as he challenged, they all come in agreement and said – Let us rise up and build the wall.  They set their hands on the job immediately.

Chapter 3

Here the building work started, each group was assigned a specific job and a specific section.  They built the gates, repaired them and they started building the wall, making repairs and finding all the gaps.

Chapter 4

As we move further to Chapter 4, there is a lot of opposition from the people living there.  First of all, there was opposition from the people who were ungodly, who did not follow the God of Israel.  When they heard that the wall is being restored, there are a couple of names that the word of God mentions – Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites – they all came to Nehemiah to fight against the Jews who were already in the business of building the wall.

The enemies did not like the progression of God’s work.  Do you think he likes it today?  They were against Nehemiah.  Nehemiah had to protect the work of God.  The Bible says he protected the work of God by two means:

  1. He was praying against all the oppositions that were against them.
  2. He set watch against them day and night so that nobody can destroy the building work that Nehemiah had started.

Chapter 5
(Discouragement from their own people Nehemiah 5:1-5)

There is a great discouragement among their own people as they were building the wall.  The builders were discouraged.  There was opposition from non-believers and now there was opposition from their own people.  Their fellow Jews became cruel task masters, they were not paying money for the work that they were doing.  The people who were involved in building the wall had to mortgage their houses and pledge their land for food.  They did not have anything to eat and had to sell their houses.  They borrowed money to pay high taxes.  The Bible says they sold their sons and daughters to slavery, so that they can pay the heavy taxes that were laid on them.  Nehemiah was angered and he spoke to the authorities and told them not to charge any interest.  He even  demanded them to return their property to the building workers so that the building work of the Lord can be continued.

Chapter 6
A trap was set to kill Nehemiah

If you go further to Chapter 6, people set traps to kill Nehemiah.  Non-Jews and enemies laid traps – Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites they all conspired together to kill Nehemiah.  They arranged for a discussion to kill him.  Nehemiah realized this and replied that he could not come in for a meeting during the building of the wall.  It was not an ordinary meeting; it was a time when Nehemiah would have been killed had he gone to attend it.

Tobiah and Sanballat even hired prophets to prophecy to Nehemiah asking him to come to the temple of God.  Nehemiah, a man of God, with such great discernment in his mind, understood that it is not from God.  Not all the prophets are from God.  He escaped.

False Accusation

There were false accusations against Nehemiah by the non-Jewish enemies.  He was accused of trying to become a King over them, that is the reason he came from Babylon to Jerusalem.  But in the midst of all this, the work of God was completed.  The Bible says the wall was completed in 52 days.  It did not take a long time.  History says the length of the wall is four thousand eighteen meters – around 2. 5 miles.  The average height is 12 meters – 40 feet.  The average thickness is around 2. 5 meters.  We can imagine the size of the wall.  The wall contained 34 watchtowers and 8 gates.  Such a huge work was done in 52 days.

Nehemiah came to Jerusalem;  appointed people and they were all in agreement in the midst of opposition and built the wall.  The enemies of the Jews knew that it is the work of God and it is the hand of God that they cannot stand against.

  • Nehemiah went ahead and started registering all the people those who came from exile and called the priest Ezra.  Nehemiah 7:5
  • He asked Ezra to read the Word of God – the book of the Law in front of them.  Nehemiah 8:2, 5-6
  • They started observing the feast of tabernacle – the feast of the Old testament.  Nehemiah 8:17
  • People started confessing their sins. Nehemiah 9
  • People made covenants and ordinances before God.  Nehemiah  10
  • The land was divided and disturbed among all the 12 tribes. Nehemiah  11
  • Sabbath was brought back in order. Nehemiah  13:15, 19
  • Nehemiah stopped the inter-marriages and brought purity to marriage.  Nehemiah  13:23-25

Its all happening under the leadership of Nehemiah.  The wall was dedicated finally.  There was great joy in the city.

Chapter 13

The sabbath is brought back in order.  Similarly bring the sabbath back in your life too.  Sunday is the day for God and sometimes we need to work.  But try your level best to keep that day aside for God.  God will honor you.  After all this hard work Nehemiah went there and the Bible says in Chapter 13 verses 15 and 19, he brought back the sabbath.  If that was not important Nehemiah would not have done it.  He has done such a thing that pleases God and God expects us to honor Him.  At times we may not be able to go to Church on a Sunday, but we need to try our level best.  If you pray eagerly and earnestly saying, Lord somehow give me freedom to worship you on Sunday.  I’m sure God will do that.  Can you start praying about it? It is such a blessing to set this day aside for God and to stand and be found in the presence of God.

Nehemiah finally put a stop to all the inter-marriages.  There were inter-marriages between the godly and the ungodly people and Nehemiah put a stop to everything.  He did not neglect the cry of his own people.  He had boldness to stand before the king and to represent his own nation.  He was bold enough to ask him for permission to go back because his people needed him.

He prayed to God and God favored Nehemiah.  There were ridicules, mockeries, confusion and misunderstanding, yet in the middle of all this Nehemiah was very keen for the job that God has called him for.  God has called you to this nation as a missionary, there is nothing else apart from that.  If you have come to this nation with all the efforts, you have come to this nation as a missionary.  Because this nation needs God.  Nehemiah was willing to listen to the voice of God.  There were attacks and lands and houses were taken for mortgage, but he could get them back for his own people.  Finally, when the work of God was accomplished God’s law was brought back in the government, sacrifices and offerings started in the temple of God, the temple of God started functioning on the Sabbath day and we see everybody rushing to the temple of God, and inter-marriages were stopped.  Everything was brought back to normal.  There was great joy in the city.  Can you imagine when people start serving God and the government turns to God, God brings great joy in the cities of God.

That is what we need today.  You and I have a responsibility in this nation, we are here like Nehemiah.  God wants us to build something in this nation.  We are talking about the great leader Nehemiah, who was concerned about the spiritual condition of the people.  He did not just come to build the wall.  His main objective was to bring that nation back to God.

Nehemiah – though his position was a cupbearer, he was also a Jewish reformer.  These are the three main leadership qualities of Nehemiah:

  1. Leaders take the initiative – it is always “I”

    There is no record of God calling Nehemiah and asking him to do the work of God.  Nobody called him to do it, of course the call of God was upon him.  But Nehemiah started it: in the first and second chapters we can see the number of times Nehemiah said “I” – Nehemiah says,

    • “I asked them concerning the Jews”
    • “When I heard these words that I sat down”
    •  “I was fasting and praying”
    • “I pray”
    • “I have sinned”
    • He surrendered himself to God as “Your servant”, he is coming to God and says, “Lord look at me, I am your servant.
    • “I was the king’s cupbearer”
    • “I had never been sat in the presence before”
    • “I became dreadfully afraid”
    • “I said to the king – I may rebuild it”
    • “I went to the governors”
    • “I came to Jerusalem”
    • “I arose in the night”
    • “I went out by night”
    • “I went on the fountain gate”
    • “I went up in the night by the valley to view the wall then I said to them come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem so they said let us rise and build it”

    How many “I”’s?  Leaders take the initiative.  As a leader, at times we are not asked, but we are expected to do it.  Do you know the difference?  Nehemiah was such a great leader, he was not asked to do it, but he took the initiative.  Good leaders take the initiative and say, “I will do it”.  Paul says in Philippians 3:14 “I press towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”,  and he again says in verse 13 “I can do all things through Christ Jesus”.  Nehemiah is not boasting by saying “I”.  But he is saying that I just want to do it for God.  Nehemiah took the burden and the risk on himself because leaders take the initiate.

    The question that we need to ask is – are we taking certain steps that God wants us to take? Or are we hiding behind others? Good leaders take the initiative and we know that we are all called to lead.  We are all called to lead somebody or are called in leading something.  Leading families, workplace, church, etc.  Are we taking the initiative?  There are burdens, ideas, desires that God has put in our heart.  Where are those things?  Are they buried somewhere?  We are waiting for somebody to tell us to do what we need to do.  Good leaders have to take the initiative.

  2. Good leaders handle opposition.

    Nehemiah had to handle numerous oppositions before he built the wall.  At times it is not easy, every time they were advancing, they had a setback.  Every time they went a step forward, they were brought back by two steps.  That is how it is going to be in our spiritual walk with God.  How many of you wanted to walk with God?  How many of you took a covenant at the beginning of the year?  How many of you decided to follow their new year’s resolution?  We want to move one step forward, but we are pushed back every time.  This was the same in Nehemiah’s life as well.  Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites – they mocked Nehemiah.  They ridiculed him saying that even if a fox walks on the wall, the wall is going to fall down.  The fellow Jews were very discouraged because they lost everything and were struggling to even pay taxes.  Nehemiah was falsely accused of trying to become a king over them.  But that was not the situation.  Nehemiah was so burdened, and his heart was broken because he was not trying to become a King.

    As a great leader he wanted to do the work of God, he was able to handle the opposition.  Do we handle opposition today?  If nobody is really opposing us, we need to worry about what we do.  Something is wrong if we do not face opposition.  We need to have opposition because it does great things in our lives, it disciplines us, rectifies us, corrects us and makes us the vessels God wants us to be.  Sometimes we face opposition within our family, in our workplace, there is opposition in sharing about Christ, and there is opposition within our self.  There is opposition from the devil – some say they keep hearing voices, and bad dreams that keep them awake at night, I am so afraid and confused, I don’t know how to move forward.  Remember this, leaders don’t move behind and neither do they stand and stare at the opposition, they move forward.  Great leaders know how to handle opposition, they walk away from those things as if nothing happened.  Think about our Lord Jesus Christ, he faced so many oppositions while He was on this Earth.  The gospel of the kingdom suffers opposition in various parts of the globe.  Nehemiah handled the oppositions in a great manner and got the job done.  Whatever kinds of opposition you may face, think about Nehemiah and set your eyes on Jesus and move forward.

  3. Leaders drive towards spiritual.

    Great leaders don’t work for fame in this world, they work in the name of reaching souls to eternity.  Great leaders do not work for popularity, they are eternity minded like Nehemiah.  All the effort that Nehemiah invested from talking to the king, viewing the broken wall three nights, walking around the city, raising people to support the work and handling all this opposition – not for material gain.  His objection was not to become the king.  He was not running a political campaign.  Nehemiah was building the right surroundings for the children of God so that they can start following God.  Great leaders drive things around them with a spiritual mind.

    Today whatever we do for our children, let us have that spiritual mind so that we will know if we are able to lead them to Christ by doing what we are doing.  When Nehemiah built the wall, he ensured physical protection, but now he worries about their spiritual protection.  Now when we do all this for our children and don’t tell them about Christ, eternity and the eternal punishment, everything will go to waste.  People were made to listen to Ezra read the book of the Law.  The book was found somewhere in the debris, it was dusted off and brought in front of the people and Ezra started reading it.  The feast of the tabernacle was brought by children of Israel.  They confessed their sins and said that the reason they were captives is because they walked away from God, did not observe Sabbath and they said that they will never do it.  Temple responsibilities were assigned, somebody was in charge of the house of God.  Some were responsible for the offerings, some as gatekeepers, some for cleansing and the purification of the church.  Some were called to serve God Almighty.

    Nehemiah started purifying the house.  He went into the temple and he did something similar to what Jesus did in the temple of God.  Nehemiah found that people had allowed their uncovenanted relatives into the temple.  Remember this is the Old Testament and it is important for anyone who is ungodly to walk into the temple of God.  But that is not true in the New Testament, we need sinners at the church today to worship God.  We need the ungodly people to worship God, they need Christ more than us to wash away their sins.  In the Old Testament days, the ungodly could not enter the temple of God but the people allowed everybody in.  Eliashib the priest, who was allied with Tobiah had a large room with a big round table and this man was occupying the place.  Nehemiah threw everything out of the temple of God.  He also noticed that many people were making money by selling things, he rebuked them, warned them and threatened them to not enter the temple of God.  Today our life is the temple of God, we need to be against everything that defiles our life.  Nehemiah said to the people – if you don’t fear God, at least fear me.  He was very strict and rude.  Seeing the ungodly things happening in the temple angered him.  He also learned that some Jewish people married non-Jewish people, Nehemiah contended with them, he cursed them, slapped them, he pulled their hair and he even pulled their beard.  Why?  Because he had such a great zeal for God.  God speaks to us here.  Do we have the zeal for the house of God?  For the word of God?  He even made them to swear to never give their children in marriage to non-Jewish people again.  He brought the purity.  Great leaders drive towards the spiritual, not just building the wall but there were so many other things that needed to be accomplished.

    Nehemiah did not come just to build the wall.  Building the wall was the first thing, but once that is done, he started leading people to God.  God wants us to lead people to Christ.  Building the wall helped people to serve God.  It is about bringing the right surrounding to God.  We should be willing to change the surrounding in order to bring the people to God.  If we don’t invite people, they cannot hear.  Nehemiah was building the wall around so that people can have the right environment to worship God.  Whatever it may be, it may be good sound, good lighting, air conditioning, heating system – so that people can come to Christ.  Nehemiah was not hesitating to do all these things and he was not satisfied until the wall was built.  God wants us to lead people to Christ.  Leaders are willing not just to build wall, but to drive people to God once the wall is built.

The life of Nehemiah speaks to us.

Summary:

  1. Leaders take initiative, it is always “I”
  2. Leaders handle opposition
  3. Leaders drive towards spiritual

Learning from the OT Leaders : Daniel – Young and Old, but Uncompromised

Series: General | Title: Learning from the OT Leaders : Daniel – Young and Old, but Uncompromised | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday February 11, 2018

Daniel – Young and Old, but Uncompromised

Another great man of God from the Old Testament is Daniel.  It is best to know the historical background to find relevance in this topic.

Historical Background of Daniel (612 BC to 536 BC – 76 Years)

Some of the key dates to remember as we take this topic further:

  • In 612 BC, Nebuchadnezzar captured the capital of Assyria called Nineveh.  Assyrians ruled the world from 846 BC. Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, came to throne in Babylon and he rebelled against the Assyrians in 625 BC.  Nebuchadnezzar was a General who led the Babylonian army against the Assyrians, and he defeated them in the year 612 BC.  You would have heard of the battle of Cal Kamesh, Pharaoh Necho was ruling Egypt.  The Babylonians fought against the Egyptians.  Nebuchadnezzar defeated them and chased them out to Judah and at Jerusalem Nebuchadnezzar came to know that his father Nabopolassar died in Babylon.  He rushed to Babylon to take the throne under his control.
  • During that time, in 605 BC, the first group of Jewish captives were taken along with Daniel and his friends to Babylon.
  • The second remnants of Jews were taken to captivity in the year 597 BC.  Jehoiachin, the king of Judah also known as Jeconiah, followed the reign of his father Jehoiakim.  He had ruled the nation for just three months and Nebuchadnezzar took him.  10,000 Jewish people were taken in Babylon under the second captivity.  In the first captivity Daniel was taken, and in the second captivity, prophet Ezekiel was taken as a captive to Babylon.
  • In 586 BC the temple of God was brought down and was destroyed completely.  Zedekiah was installed as a king in Jerusalem.  He was very weak and not a very stable king.  11 years later, Jerusalem was completely destroyed and totally wiped away by the Babylonian forces.
  • The third group of people were taken into Babylon as captives, but Jeremiah was left alone in the nation.  70 years later, in 536 BC, the Babylonians fell and the first remnant of the children of God returned to Jerusalem.  God put that thought in the mind of Cyrus the king of Persia who sent the first group of remnants of the children of God back to Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel.

Daniel lived through much of this time, when children of Israel were taken into captivity in Babylon, Daniel lived through all the Babylonian captivity from the year 605 to 534 BC.  From 70 long years Daniel was living in Babylon and he was the first among the captives.  Daniel’s contemporaries, that lived at that time along with him, were Jeremiah and Ezekiel.  Jeremiah had prophesied about the exile/ captivity that was about to come upon the people of God.  Ezekiel was taken as part of the second deportation and he was ministering to the Jewish people outside Babylon near the Chebar River.

Who is Daniel?

Apart from the book of Daniel, not much is known of him.  His descendants are from one of the tribes of Judah, a prominent family at the time of Judah.  The Bible says that Daniel was both royal and he had a noble birth.  He was such a man who was very peculiar, and he was chosen by God at a time such as that.  At a very early age, probably in his teens, Daniel was taken as a captive to Babylon.  The main reason why he was taken captive among the first group of captives was because he was very brilliant.  Nebuchadnezzar wanted to train Daniel, along with a couple of youths, all about the Babylonian culture.  This was because he knew that they would pick it up very easily.  He wanted to bring the cultural change among God’s people in an ungodly way, and he found that Daniel was a good candidate.

Authorship & the Scope of the book of Daniel

The book of Daniel is an amazing book that we have in the Word of God.  The book of Daniel identifies Daniel as its author, we read that in Daniel 9:2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem and Daniel 10:2 In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.

  • Critics always argue and they say that the book of Daniel is not written by Daniel.
  • They date the authorship of the book to 2nd century BC but whereas Daniel lived between 7th and the 6th century BC.
  • It was a great blow for the critics when Jesus spoke about Daniel in Matthew 24:15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place”(whoever reads, let him understand) and Jesus confirmed that Daniel was the author of the book of Daniel.

The book of Daniel was likely to be written between 540 and 530 BC.  The first recorded date in the book of Daniel chapter 1 verse 1 (In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.) is 605 BC.  The last recorded in the book of Daniel is the third year of King Cyrus as recorded in Chapter 10, verse 1 – which took place in 536 BC. So, it is from 530 BC to 536 BC.  The scope of the book of Daniel involves 69 long years between these two dates.

  • Therefore, we can conclude that the book of Daniel covers two separate gentile kingdoms (Babylonian Kingdom and the Medo-Persian Kingdom) and four gentile administrations (Babylonian administration of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, Medo-Persian administration of King Darius and King Cyrus).

Interesting and familiar stories of the Bible are recorded in the book of Daniel

This is very interesting just to see some of the familiar stories of the book of Daniel and associate those instances with the age of Daniel.

  • Daniel was taken to Babylon at the age of 15.
  • He was standing before King Nebuchadnezzar and interpreting the dream, Daniel was 17 years old.
  • Daniel’s three friends were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – they were cast into the fiery furnace, at that time Daniel was between 19 and 20 years old.
  • Daniel was interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream – the huge tree, he was at the age of 40-50.
  • Daniel’s vision about the four beasts, ram and the goat – he was somewhere at his mid-60’s.
  • Daniel was 80 years old when he spoke the prophecy.
  • During Belshazzar’s feast, Daniel was interpreting the handwriting on the wall, he was 80 years old.
  • When Daniel spoke about the end time prophecies, Daniel was somewhere in the mid 80’s.
  • When Daniel was thrown into the Lion’s den – he was 83 years old.
  • Now it is believed that Daniel died somewhere between 535 BC and 530 BC, approximately at the age of 86.

Theme of the Book

The book of Daniel has a very lofty view of the Sovereignty of God Almighty – the one who is in authority.  Some of the key scriptures that define the key theme of the book of Daniel.

Daniel 2:28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.
Daniel 2:47 The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.”
Daniel 4:32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”

These three scriptures tell us that God Almighty is in control and Daniel could reveal that very clearly as he spoke about the sovereignty of God.

If we ask Daniel, what are you trying to teach us?

He will look at us and say, As a man of God, I lived through the ruling of four kingdoms.

  • The rule of Belshazzar,
  • The rule of Nebuchadnezzar,
  • The rule of Darius the Mede, and
  • The rule of Cyrus the Persians for 16 long years.

I have seen kingdoms rise and fall and I want to tell you through it all, there is one constant factor that we can never deny.  He is our God in heaven who rules the kingdom of man and He is in charge.  Daniel saw this in his own eyes.  Daniel is trying to teach us that the kingdom of this world is going to pass away, all the kingdoms we have seen have passed away.  The current kingdom, the current ruler-ship and authority we see are going to pass away.  Daniel says that there is one thing – “Kingdom of this world is passing away, kingdom of heaven is coming to pass, one thing I know is the most high ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will“.

Daniel came to Babylon at the age of 16, and he stayed all through the captivity for 70 long years until he died at the age of 86.  He had seen four dynasties as he was brought to a very high level over the course of the years.

Nebuchadnezzar saw with his own eyes what God was doing in his kingdom.  Daniel saw in his own eyes what God was doing in the life of Nebuchadnezzar.  Have you seen what God is working in somebody else’s life?  Have you seen somebody going through a terrible time and when you pray for them you see that God is doing something in that person’s life?  Daniel saw the way God was working in the life of Nebuchadnezzar.  He was such a cruel and wicked king.  We can say that he was a combination of Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and Bonaparte.  In Daniel 5:19 – he says if he wants to bring somebody down, he will bring them down, if he wants to raise somebody up, he will raise them up, if I want to kill someone, I will kill.  That is wickedness that was seen in the life of Nebuchadnezzar and God kept His hand on this man.  God started working in his life.  When we read about Nebuchadnezzar the next time, we see him in the field on his hands and his knees in the field eating grass like an ox, living like an animal.  God straightened him out. Daniel saw this in his own eyes.

Belshazzar – Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson.  Nebuchadnezzar’s problem was pride, when he looked at the garden of Babylon, he pridefully exclaimed about how he built it.  But Belshazzar’s problem was presumption or assumption or opinion.  In Daniel 5:23 And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven.  He assumed that he himself is God.  The only other person who assumed himself to be God was Lucifer.  Belshazzar lifted him up above the throne of God.  One-night God is there to touch his life.  God sent a hand, a miraculous hand appeared on the wall as Belshazzar was in the party.  God’s hand started writing on the wall. Daniel was brought into the party because nobody could interpret the meaning of the writing.  Daniel said the meaning, he told – your death is at the doorstep.  The Bible says on the same night, Belshazzar was slain.  Daniel saw this in his own eyes.  He saw one kingdom rise and another kingdom fall, but Daniel stood like a pillar in the midst of the blowing sands to see the great work of God and to testify.  The God of heaven rules the kingdom of man.  The Bible says that Daniel continued even though the kingdom fell.  He was there in the Babylonian kingdom and also in the Medo-Persian kingdom.

The message is that there is a God in heaven and he ruled, and He still rules, and He will to continue to rule forever and ever.  One day He will come back.  As Daniel stood firm, we as children of God should stand firm.  At times it appears that he is going to throw us into the fiery furnace or the Lion’s den.  But Daniel is standing firm as a testimony to see the kingdoms fall and rise.  He comes to a conclusion that the kingdom of God is going to remain forever.

Qualities of this great Leader who lived through the Kingdom of Men

1. Bible accounts Daniel being found with an extraordinary or excellent spirit.

Daniel 6:1-3 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss. Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.
The number one quality of leadership is an excellent spirit – this was an obvious attribute in the life of Daniel – an extraordinary spirit.

  • The spirit with which he or she operates is one of the greatest attributes behind the leader.
  • It is driving force behind a leader.
  • The spirit with which we speak, move and carry out the work of God.

This spirit was noticed was King Nebuchadnezzar, King Belshazzar, King Cyrus and King Darius.

  • The spirit that made Daniel exceptional among the captives,
  • The spirit that revealed secrets to Daniel,
  • The spirit provided boldness to Daniel,
  • The spirit that caused Daniel to interpret dreams and visions,
  • The spirit that made him focus on God’s plan for his life,
  • A spirit that even influenced his friends who jumped into the fiery furnace.

As a leader, one must have this driving extraordinary spirit to see success in our lives.

Where did that extraordinary and excellent spirit come from in the life of Daniel?  I believe it must be a choice given to Daniel, either to be led by the spirit or to be led by the flesh.  I believe that was an option in front of him.  Daniel decided to be led by the spirit and now the King is witnessing saying that I see an extraordinary excellent spirit within you.  Galatians 5:16  Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

The human spirit is weak, and it gets discouraged easily.  Always complaining and gets depressed, the human spirit takes all the burden upon itself, complains and points fingers at others.  But Daniel was not of that spirit;  if he had that spirit, nobody would have wanted him, and they would not have any clue what he was doing.  But Daniel was able to stand in front of the kings and was pointing them out to God and telling them – you see a God in heaven who rules the kingdom of men.
Our human spirit is weak and fragile, but there is another spirit that is the spirit of God.  The spirit of God is a spirit that renews our minds, that quickens our inner man and that gives courage, motivation and provides focus in our life.  Let us examine ourselves and see what kind of spirit is in us at this moment?  We are talking about the human spirit and the Holy Spirit – not the evil spirits.  What kind of spirit is in us today?
The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Do you have that power in you or do you get discouraged very easily?  Do you have that zeal within you – no matter what comes Lord, I will still move forward.  Daniel was possessing that spirit within him, which was pushing him and driving him in spite of all the setbacks.  The human spirit is one that seeks vengeance.  But the spirit of God is a loving spirit in a sound mind.  Today the major problem we see, especially among our teens, is losing their mind.  They don’t need medication, they need the spirit of God, they do not operate in the right spirit.  The human spirit is already weak, and they are overpowered by the evil spirits.  They need the spirit of God to have a sound mind.
Daniel was a man of God who had an extraordinary spirit.  We need that spirit to continue to live for God.  The days are not going to be easy, there are challenges that we are facing in our lives, families, communities.  We need the driving spirit within us and that can come only from the spirit of God.

2. The second characteristic of a great leader is an uncompromised lifestyle.

Great leaders do not compromise their principles and commitments of life with their surroundings.  It was Daniel’s custom to pray three times a day.  Daniel continued that practice even after knowing that it is against the law, we read that in Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home.  And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
Daniel knew that it is against the law, yet he did not compromise his lifestyle for leadership.

  • Today leaders bend their values to satisfy the law of the land, we see that if people do not compromise probably, they cannot be good to people.
  • At times as children of God, even we are willing to compromise our values, because we think that if we don’t compromise, we cannot save somebody from sin.  We need wisdom.
  • But Daniel was not willing to compromise his prayer life.
  • Daniel could have said, “Okay, from now onwards, I will pray in my mind”.  How many of us say that – I don’t have time to kneel down and pray but I will pray in my mind or I will pray while driving to work.  Daniel could have very well said that because he knew that it is against the law to kneel down and pray three times to the God of heaven, but Daniel did not say that.  Sometimes we say that God knows my situation, He knows how busy I am.  The pastor doesn’t know, my wife doesn’t know, but God knows why I couldn’t pray.  But Daniel was not compromising, he did not think that can pray in his mind – but he continued to pray the same way he used to pray.
  • He was keeping his life at the risk of even getting killed, he did not want to compromise his values to the pattern of the world.

Great leaders stand to what they believe, and they don’t compromise to please others.

  • We are all called as leaders, we are all called to lead and as a leader we need to know where to draw the line and where scriptures draw the line.  That is where we should be able to draw the line.
  • If the truth of God’s word opposes a pattern of the world or world’s wisdom on certain matters, we need to make sure we align ourselves to the Word of God.
  • At times we ask questions, we don’t need to get confused.  The moment the word of God says, we are expected to obey.
  • Sometimes we have questions – can I friends with non-Christians?  Can I participate in the pagan festival if my friend was a non-Christian if he/she is inviting me?  The answer is yes and no.
    – This is important, I will say yes you can participate if you know where scripture draws a line concerning paganism.
    – I will say no don’t participate in the pagan festivals, do not go with your friend if we do not know what the scripture says about that situation. At times when we walk into that place, we may end up compromising our Christian values in front of non-Christians.

So, it is very important to know where the scripture draws a line. Daniel knew where the scripture draws a line. Great leaders have an uncompromising lifestyle.

3. He had unashamed boldness.

Daniel 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank;  therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
Daniel wanted to abstain himself from the delicacies – from the food pattern of the king.  Daniel wanted to keep himself away.  He could have done a couple of things,

  • He could have got the food, the wine and the meat and then he could have thrown the food outside and somehow, he could have sneaked the food from the kitchen.
  • The other way, he could have spoken to the kitchen staff and informed them – I cannot eat this food, I need some other food.  There are different possibilities.
  • But recall that Daniel sought the permission of the commander and he said, I don’t want that food, I don’t want to defile myself with that food.  An unashamed boldness, he was respectful and at the same time he was unbending.

He was not bending, he just wanted to remind himself, that shows the unashamed boldness.

  • Leaders exhibit boldness in their commitments and in their decisions.
  • Leaders wanted their voice to be heard on what they believe.  This is important, we are living in a time such a this, where leadership is failing to do this.  Leaders make their voice very bold so that what they believe is heard by the people and the authorities.
  • Leaders want others to know the moral boundaries of their life.
  • Leaders make sure others know their limits based on their value system.  Everything is made known to others.

Today when we lead it is important that we have that boldness within us.

4. Courage to tell the Truth

  • Daniel had great courage to tell the truth to those kings face to face.
  • On many occasions we find God using Daniel in a very special way.
  • He was sent to the king most of the time to tell about their end, to tell about their death.  Daniel was not hiding himself away from telling the truth.
  • Remember that Daniel was taken as a captive, a part of the first batch of exiles to Babylon.
  • God lifted him up because he had an extraordinary spirit within him and here is one example where Daniel had the great courage to tell the truth.

Daniel 5:22-23 “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. 23 And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified.
The scripture is very clear, when we serve and go behind ungodly things, when we go behind the gods, the schemes and the systems of this world – this is what God speaks to us:
Daniel 5:24 Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written.
Daniel was right there and he had a great courage to tell the truth to Belshazzar.
Daniel 5:30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.
The destruction came upon Belshazzar that very night, but God sent Daniel to courageously tell the two great leaders.  They don’t really look at the consequences, but they obey God.  We need that boldness to share the gospel. We all have ungodly friends, Hindu friends and people of other religions.  We have been waiting and waiting – how long will we be waiting?  God wants us to take that courage and tell them about the God of heaven.  God is a jealous God and He wants Himself to be known to the people living around us.

5.    Focused to do what God appointed him to do

Daniel was focused to do what God appointed him to do, he was not distracted by anything.  Today the main problem of believers who are walking away from God is the distraction.  The things that we see in this world, church and the workplace distract our mind easily.  When we come to church Sunday morning, that is the exact time all the problems, and complains will come one after the other.  Your mind is distracted, you are not coming and sitting in this place to listen to God.  Daniel was not distracted; he was focused on what God wanted him to do.  Remember at the age of 17 Daniel was standing before Nebuchadnezzar, the Bible says, Nebuchadnezzar the great king fell down to his knees and worshiped Daniel.  He was only 17.  When he interpreted the dream, Nebuchadnezzar thought he is God.

Daniel 2:46-49 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him. 47 The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.” 48 Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Also Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.

At the age of 17 God lifted him up, but he remained focused.  Daniel could have gone behind the elevation that God has given in his life, but Daniel knew his purpose and why God raised him up to this level.  This was Daniel’s lifestyle. No matter who appreciates, no matter who praises him, he was focused on the call of God.  Daniel was at the age of 80 was interpreting the handwriting that appeared on the wall at the palace of Belshazzar.  Even at the age of 80, Daniel denied that honor that the king wanted to give.
Daniel 5:17 Then Daniel answered, and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
The leader is always focused on what God wanted him to do. When the handwriting was interpreted.
Daniel 5:22-29 “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. 23 And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. 24 Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written. 25 “And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. 26 This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; 27 TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; 28 PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” 29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.

Daniel remained focused on the call of God.  Daniel’s call could not be removed from his life by the offerings of this world.  God has called each one of us and the world is so capable of showing so many things in front of us – all the wealth of this world and the ruler of this world is expecting us to bow down before him.  The same way Jesus was tempted, now Daniel is tempted here.  But Daniel remained on the call of God.  We cannot be a leader if you think about and boast about the honor people give to us.
John 5:41 I do not receive honor from men.  Sometimes not receiving honor becomes rude, receive the honor but give it back to God.  Tell him, glory belongs to God, not by lips but from the heart.
Great leaders remain focused on the call of God.  We cannot be a leader if we set our minds on the things of this earth. True leaders don’t have any hold on this earth.

Paul says in Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above and not on the things of the Earth.  We cannot be great leaders in God’s kingdom if we have a love of money.  Very dangerous.  Money is needed, but love of money is not good.  That includes our wealth, our car, our house, our bank balance, everything.  Love of money is dangerous.

1 Timothy 6:10 For love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Great leaders cannot go behind money, we need money for the work of God.  We need the minimum money to survive, we don’t need more than that.  Daniel stood well above all these things, all the honor, all the wealth, position and he was raised as a great leader in all the four different kingdoms. But he remained focused on the call of God.
God speaks to us and God tells you this is why I called you and this is the reason I called you to walk with you.  Can you learn from Daniel, can you learn from Paul who considered everything rubbish to gain the knowledge of Christ Jesus.

Summary:

  1. Leaders have an Extraordinary Spirit
  2. Leaders have an Uncompromised Lifestyle
  3. Leaders have an Unashamed boldness
  4. Leaders are Courageous to tell the Truth
  5. Leaders remain Focused on what God appointed him to do

Learning from the OT Leaders : Joshua – Strong and Courageous

Series: Learning from the OT Leaders | Title: Joshua – Strong and Courageous | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday January 28, 2018

Joshua – Strong and Courageous

Another great leader from the Old Testament is Joshua.  The Bible talks about Joshua, who is an interesting character to study.

Joshua 1:1  After the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead.  Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel.  Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.  From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.  No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.  Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you;  do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Here we read a great promise that was given by God Almighty to Joshua as he was about to take on the leadership role.  As we study about this great man of God, he stands as a great example and a role model.  Every generation has its own need of leadership, at times it takes so much to be a leader to rule a nation – especially in times of struggle and of great turmoil.  It is very challenging to rule the nation or even to be a leader in the kingdom of God.  We tend to look at great leaders who prove their lives to be a great leaders and act as role models.  What about the leaders of today?

When we read the books of Joshua, Exodus and Deuteronomy, much of Joshua’s achievements came from the way God used him in a supernatural way.  God used Joshua to divide the river Jordan and God used Joshua to bring down the wall of Jericho. During the time of Joshua, the sun and the moon stood still.  A mighty man of God, a great miracle worker, as he was leading the people of God through the wilderness.  After the death of Moses, Joshua took the mantle upon himself and he continued to lead the children of Israel.  Moses led the children of God out of Egypt and he pushed them into the wilderness.  Joshua has been given a mandate to lead them into the promised land.

Who is Joshua?

  • From the scripture, we can see that Joshua was the son of Nun, he was from the tribe of Benjamin.  (Exodus 33:11, Numbers 11:28).  He was born in Egypt like Moses did.
  • Joshua’s name was originally Hoshea, as mentioned in Numbers 13:16 These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land.  And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.
  • The very name Joshua means Savior – the person by whom God is going to deliver.  God is going to save his people – is what Joshua means.  The Greek equivalent of Joshua is Jesus.  Jesus means the savior of mankind.
  • Joshua lived approximately for 40 years in Egypt under the bondage of Egyptians along with the children of Israel.  He was in the wilderness for 40 years, working along with Moses as a leader.  Until the age of 110, Joshua lived in the promised land of Canaan for 30 years.  (Joshua 24:29)

First Introduction:

Moses was forbidden entry into Canaan – a simple reason – Moses disobeyed God.  As Moses died, the leadership mantle fell upon the life of Joshua.  Joshua gets introduced in the Word of God for the first time in Exodus Chapter 17.  There Moses is asking Joshua to lead an army as children of Israel were going to fight against Amalekites.  The Bible says God used Joshua in a mighty way.  That was not just an ordinary way, but God told them very clearly – when you capture the nation, you are going to annihilate them and kill every man, woman and child along with their animals.  It was not as easy as capturing a city.  But Joshua as a mighty warrior executed the order that Moses gave him.  We find Joshua successfully leading this army and executing God’s command with perfection.  Joshua then gained the confidence of Moses.

When Moses was sitting at the mount, as long as his hands were lifted up by Aaron and Hur, the army was moving forward under the leadership of Joshua.  We can imagine the kind of influence that Joshua would have made among the children of Israel.  At times it was not an easy task to lead God’s people, when we think about Moses or Joshua or any leader for that matter, they need to listen from God, take care of their children and lead them in the right way.  They also need to get them engaged in these kinds of wars and missions that God wanted them to take.  It was not an ordinary task.  When we read/ learn about the Old Testament leaders, we are really learning about leadership, not the one that we see today, but the one which was filled with so much responsibility and commitment as they were leading the children of God in the wilderness.

Joshua gained great confidence among the people.  The most important characteristic of any Jewish leader was to have faith in God and obey His command without questioning, no matter what it takes.  They were willing to obey God, the moment He commanded them without thinking about the consequences.  Such were the leaders of the Old Testament.  Joshua was one among the twelve spies who went to Canaan.  Two brought back good report and the ten brought back a bad report.  The two who brought back the good report were Caleb and Joshua.  They said this according to Numbers 14:7 – “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land.  If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey. ’ Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us.  Do not fear them. ”

That was the report Joshua brought, and no doubt he was a great leader.

  • A man of great vision, the moment he saw the country he got the vision.
  • He had a pair of eyes that looks for opportunity.  A great leader always looks for opportunity – where can we move and advance in the kingdom of God.
  • Great leaders do not fear anybody.  Joshua did not fear anyone;  he was a leader depending on God.
  • He spoke these words, they were not just from his own strength but from his dependence on God.

There are some great lessons we can learn from Joshua.

1. Leadership Development takes time:

Moses was Joshua’s mentor for 40 long years in the wilderness before Joshua took over. Joshua took the victory over Amalekites and when he gained the victory, Joshua could have done a couple of things.  He could have sat back and reaped the reward of victory throughout his life.  Joshua could have challenged Moses, and he could have climbed up in leadership ranking very quickly.  But Joshua did not do that, instead he did the opposite.  The Bible says Joshua was subordinating/ assisting Moses until he died.

  • We can think about Noah and how he built an ark with no prior experience.
  • But here we see that Joshua had to go through leadership training for over 40 years with Moses.

Joshua had a very great role in the leadership of the children of Israel.  There are a great number of occasions where Joshua was assisting Moses.

  • Exodus 24:13  Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God.  When God called Moses to Mount Sinai, Moses also took Joshua to a certain level.  When Moses comes back the entire nation was into idol worship except Joshua.  Joshua was waiting for Moses to come back while the rest of the crowd thought that Moses had died.
  • Numbers chapter 14 says – When they spied Canaan Joshua brought a good report in the favor of God.  When all the children of Israel were racing against the leadership of Moses, only Caleb and Joshua were standing with Moses.
  • Numbers 11:28 – So Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, one of his choice men, answered and said, “Moses my lord, forbid them!”  When people came against Moses, Joshua was standing with Moses.

God raised Joshua as second in command and as a successor of Moses.

  • Joshua was assisting Moses, under his shadow for 40 long years.
  • He was very faithful, and he was executing all his responsibilities according to what Moses said to him and he was fulfilling all the needs.
  • At times we say that leaders are not born but are raised.  We see that Joshua was very careful to learn everything from Moses.  Joshua learned from Moses on how to listen to God, how to make decisions that we can advance in the kingdom of God, how to be a good leader politically, military wise and the spiritual aspects, how to handle difficult situations when people come against the leadership.  Joshua was observing everything from Moses.
  • The Bible says Joshua was assisting Moses until the time comes.  When Moses died, God decided to bring Joshua up in the leadership.

There is a time when God will lift us up.
1 Peter 5:6 – Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.  
At times God expects us to be quiet and honor the leadership that God has given us – maybe in the church or our nation or our workplace.  We know for sure that some of our leaders in our workplace are not godly, they do not even consider us, they ill-treat people.  But as a child of God, God does not want us to raise against them, God wants us to be humble.  The Bible says that the leadership is given by God – may it be in the church, political arena, or our workplace.  We need to be submissive, if we do so, God will lift us up in due time.  Today people do not want to wait.  Joshua waited for 40 years being submissive.

  • Pastor Balan was working with a pastor for three years in his early days of Christian life.  From that man of God, Pastor learnt certain things.  He learnt how to get things done by fasting and praying.  He was a man of prayer.  Things were getting done when he threw his knees down.  He was a prayer warrior.  When he preaches not everybody liked him but there is a great crowd, with miracles happening, demons being cast out – because he was a man of prayer.
  • Pastor Balan got to work for another three years with another pastor and saw how boldly and courageously he stood oppositions.  He recounts the beginning of his ministry – he was in the city of Bangalore and everybody in the streets were against him and when he does something, the next day morning, the people would come and destroy everything.  They were all against him.  He recalls how he was chasing an individual every time when they did something from one end of the road to the other end to beat them up.  He forced the kingdom of God, the church, in his location by his strength.  Everybody was afraid of him.  He is still ministering there, and it is a great church today.  One thing that Pastor Balan learnt was how boldly we need to establish the kingdom of God.
  • For another three years, Pastor Balan worked with another Pastor who really helped him on how to establish a ministry in the North American context.  All these years Pastor Balan was just assisting them and just doing what they wanted him to do.  But Pastor Balan had to wait for a time when God would give him an opportunity to lead.

It may be true in each one of our lives.  There are times we are called to follow.  There are times we are called to lead.  We need to know what God wants us to do – are we called as Noah?  Are we called as Moses?  Or Joshua?  Leadership development takes time.

2. Leaders ought to be Strong and Courageous:

Leaders are to be strong and courageous. When we look at the leaders in the political arena, they are so courageous, the way that they talk, the way they address the crowd is all very courageous.  God expects us to be courageous in what we do.  In Joshua Chapter 1 as mentioned above, we see the word courage mentioned 4 times in all 18 verses.

  • Verse 6 says – Be strong and of good courage.
  • Verse 7 says – Only be strong and courageous.
  • Verse 9 says – be strong and of good courage.
  • Verse 18 the people say to Joshua – Only be strong and of good courage.

Even in the farewell note when Joshua was about to die, we read that in Joshua 23 – Joshua was addressing the crowd and telling them to be courageous.  Do not be afraid, be courageous.  Joshua was a man of great courage.  Being strong and courageous is a great characteristic in a leader.  Joshua spent two-thirds of his life assisting his master Moses and the remaining 30 years he was called to lead.

1. Courageous leaders value their past – Joshua has seen with his own eyes, the red sea parting and the plagues coming over the Egyptians one after the other, water gushing out of the rock, he was closely walking with Moses.  According to our conviction, all of us are called to lead, we may be leading our child, our family or a team, or a student leader, etc.
2. Courageous leaders know their present – the current expectations, the challenges, the job that is not yet done and you are called to do that job.  You are a leader because someone is expecting you to do something.  Joshua’s challenge is to enter into Canaan, Joshua knows the size of the army that he has, the kind of resources that are given to him and the challenges that are in front of him – the river Jordan was in front of him.  There were so many types of people who were living in Canaan.  The Bibles lists that there were Amalekites, Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, etc. were some of the whites that were living in Canaan.
3. Courageous leaders carry God’s presence into the future – 
Joshua 1:5 –  No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life;  as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.  I will not leave you nor forsake you.
As Joshua was leading and as he was moving forward, he was taking the presence of God along with him.  Joshua was holding the presence of God as he was walking into the blessed land of Canaan.  There were times Joshua had to make sure people were held accountable.  He made sure Achan was held accountable for the loss they encountered as they were trying to capture the city of AI.
Courageous leaders had to conquer kings and kingdoms;  Joshua was doing it.  He was guarding himself from the enemies, from fear and discouragements.  We are called to lead with great courage.  In second Timothy, Paul writes to Timothy and he says, God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and of sound mind.

2 Timothy 7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

3. Leaders must stand on God’s Word and in Prayer:

Leaders must stand of God’s word and in prayer. The reason for Joshua’s success as a leader was his adherence to the Word of God.  God spoke to Joshua saying, Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night that you may observe to do according to what is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success”.
When God brought Joshua into leadership, God told him one thing specifically – This book of the law shall not depart from you.  God was referring to the word of God – the Bible.  That is what God said to him – this book of the law shall not depart from in front of your eyes.
How do we keep this book of the law in front of us? We see that Joshua is fulfilling this commandment of God throughout his career.
We can see a couple of examples of Joshua’s commitment to the Word of the Lord:

  • In renewing the covenant at Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim: Joshua 8: 30 – Now Joshua built an altar to the Lord God of Israel in Mount Ebal, 31 as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: “an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron  ” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.  32 And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written.  33 Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, the stranger as well as he who was born among them.  Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.  34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law.  35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.
  • Joshua’s devotion is obeying God’s word.  Joshua 11:15 As the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.
  • Even at the end of his life, he encouraged the nation to heed God’s Word.  Joshua 23:1-6
  • We see Joshua praying for the people’s failure following the defeat at Ai.  Joshua 7:6-9
  • Joshua praying in the middle of warfare. When 5 different kings of the Amorites joined together and came to attack the city and the inhabitants of Gibeon, Lord sent hail stones and killed many of them. On that day Joshua made this prayer – Joshua 10:9-14

Joshua read all the commandments that God had given him.  Leaders must stand on God’s word.  Even at the end of his life, he was instructing people to read the Word of God.

Maybe you are called to lead someone, it could be your family, a group of people – you need to learn the Word of God, it is important.  Without His Word, we fail to lead people.  All the leadership qualities and characteristics that we need today are written in this law.  To lead people in a life that is pleasing to God – it is all written in the Word of God.  God is asking the leadership to come back to the Word of God.  The Bible says that Joshua was not only reading the Word of God, but he was also a man of prayer.  When Joshua was called to fight the city of Ai, they underestimated the battle and thought it was easy to win the city.  What happened then? They had a major defeat after a great victory against the Amalekites.  The reason for this defeat was because somebody did not obey God.  God told them not to bring any of the valuables from that city and they should destroy and burn everything.  But there was a man named Achan who took some of the Babylonian garments, silver, and gold.  He took them to the tabernacle and hid them.  Nobody knew about this.  Let us look at the way Joshua is dealing with that.

Joshua 7:6 Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.  And Joshua said, “Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all—to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan! O Lord, what shall I say when Israel turns its back before its enemies? For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth.  Then what will You do for Your great name?”

As Joshua was kneeling down, with his forehead touching the ground, this was the prayer he prayed.  He is crying out to Lord asking why there was a defeat in his place.  Why did this happen in my church?  My family?  Why is this happening in my nation?  A great leader was down to the ground, on his knees crying out to the Lord – Why did you allow this to happen God?
Great leaders are called to intercede.  Intercession is not a characteristic of a prayer warrior but that of a great leader.  Intercessors stand in the middle of God and people.  Here we see Joshua crying out and asking of how people will defame His name.  What can I do Lord?

Joshua was praying in the middle of a warfare.  Joshua was in the middle of the battlefield and the enemies were coming in the other end and the children of Israel are advancing.  Joshua is leading as a great leader and in the middle of everything, he stopped and started praying.  Can we see such a leader today?  Let us look at what Joshua is doing.  There are five different kings of the Amorites that are joining together for an attack against the city and inhabitants of Gibeon.  The Lord is sending hailstones, so they were all getting killed by it.  Now Joshua:

Joshua 10:9 Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal.  10 So the Lord routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah.  11 And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the Lord cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died.  There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword.  12 Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel:

“Sun, stand still over Gibeon;  And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon. ”  13 So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies.

When we go back and check the history of Joshua, we find that the Sun was standing stationary in the middle of the day for the entire day when Joshua prayed to God.  Great leaders must stand on the Word of God and they must stand in prayer.

Sometimes we may feel this sermon does not really make sense to you.  But who knows, you are a leader who is coming up and the Lord has already marked you.  You may be asked to lead down the line.  You may also be leading right now.  God is asking you to lead in prayer and on the Word of God.  You may be leading prayer in the church, or leading a children’s ministry, you may be leading worship or an outreach ministry.  But God is asking you to lead as you stand on the Word.  So, it is important to study the Word of God and it is important to pray.  When you give importance to God, God will honor you.  Try it out, start studying the Word of God and you will see that God honors you.  There are witnesses right here at the church, who will be able to come up and give their testimony on how God honored them when they went to a Bible study or when they prayed fervently.  You will become an effective leader when you develop a passion for praying.  Any part of the work that we do in the kingdom of God, let us do it with prayer.

Summary:

We have learnt from the life of Joshua:

1.  Leadership development takes time
2.  Leaders ought to be strong and courageous
3. Leaders must stand on God’s Word and in prayer

Learning from the OT Leaders : Noah – Obedient and Willing

Series: Learning from the OT Leaders | Title: Noah – Obedient and Willing | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday January 21, 2018

Noah – Obedient and Willing

When we go through the leadership list of the Old Testament, we find Noah towards the end of the list.  The way Noah moved, operated and the way he brought forth the kingdom of God on this Earth shows that he is a mighty man of God.

Scripture Reference:

Genesis 6:1-8:4 and Hebrews 11:7 

Hebrews 11:7 – By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

The author of Hebrews commended Noah for his faithfulness, righteousness and for the fear of God.  Genesis records the historical section of what happened when God instructed Noah to build the ark.

The highlights of Noah’s story of the ark and the flood as found in Genesis:

  • God saw that there was a great wickedness happening on the face of the Earth.  He decided to wipe away mankind from the face of the earth including the earth.  But He found only one righteous man – Noah.  God wanted to preserve Noah along with his family.  When the head of the family is righteous the family has a covering.  The head of the family is the husband and the head of the husband is Jesus.
  • God has decided to wipe away humanity, both the head and tail because of wickedness in the world.
  • God gave Noah specific instructions on how to build the ark.  That was designed so that Noah and his family could escape the catastrophic effect of the flood that is about to come upon the land.
  • God instructed Noah to bring two of all living beings – male and female; 7 pairs of clean animals, all the food required for the animals and for Noah and his family.  God did not mention the number of days for which they should bring their supply.
  • After they entered the ark, rain fell on the ground, the fountains were broken open, and the whole Earth was flooded.  It was flooded for 150 days.  There was 40 days of continuous rain.  Every living thing on the face of the Earth was wiped away.
  • As the water receded, the ark came to rest in Mount Ararat.  Noah and his family continued to wait inside the ark before they could step out into the land, for the land was not dry.
  • Finally, after a year, God invited Noah to come out o the ark.  The moment Noah came out of the ark, he built an altar and he sacrificed a pair of clean birds that he brought.
  • God really loved it, and he was pleased by the sacrifice.  God established the covenant with Noah, saying, never again will I wipe away the face of the Earth by flood.   His sign of the covenant was the rainbow.

What was the task at hand?

Noah was given a specific task – to build the ark.  God instructed him on how he should make the ark –

  • The length of the ark shall be 300 cubits, width 50 cubits and its height 30 cubits.  The length of the ark is almost 500 feet – the size of one and a half football stadium.  If we lay flat three NASA space shuttles from head to tail, it is equivalent to the length of Noah’s ark.
  • The height of the ark is equivalent to that of a four-story apartment.  The ark had great storage capacity.  The ark can contain about 450 semi-trailer trucks of load.  The movers usually can fit in about eight to ten houses inside one truck.  God interested Noah with a great responsibility of building this Ark.
  • When we imagine Noah building this ark all by himself, it surely looks like a tough job.  Adding to that, the Bible says Noah was 500 years old.  At such an age he was given the responsibility to build the Ark.

1. You are never too old to build:

  • Noah built at the ark at the age of 500 years old. He also begot three sons Shem, Ham and Japhet (Genesis 5:32) at the age of 500.
  • When Noah was 600 years old, the flood waters came on the face of the Earth.  (Genesis 7:6)
  • After the flood, Noah lived for another 350 years.  (Genesis 9:28)
  • He lived on the face of the earth for 950 years and then he died.  (Genesis 9:29)

It took 100 years for Noah to build the Ark.  When we convert those years into today’s human lifespan, we can say that Noah was asked to build the ark at the age of 45 to 50 years old.

  • There is no age limit to start something for God
  • There is no retirement from the purpose of God
  • It takes the whole life, till the last breath to fulfill God’s purpose in our lives

Noah’s life was an amazing life, it tells us that we are never too old to build.  What would have happened if some of those leaders in the past had taken retirement at the age of 45-50?

  • Noah would not have built the ark.
  • Abraham and Sarah would not have had Isaac.
  • Moses would not been used by God to deliver His people.
  • Joshua would not have led the children of Israel into Canaan.
  • Caleb would not have possessed the mountain.
  • Simeon would not have seen the salvation of the Lord.
  • Paul would not have made his second and third missionary journey.

We are not limited by our age.
At times we may feel if God can do something through us.  We turn back and see the years we have wasted and now we are in a certain phase in our life where we think if it is too late for God to use us at this age.  But Noah was not reluctant to go when God called him at such an age.  But when we think about Moses, we see that he was reluctant to go according to God’s call.  The Bible says, Noah was readily obeying to the call of God in his life.

In our lives, when we question ourselves, we may be 30-35, 40-45, how many souls have we brought to the kingdom of God, how many people have we shared about Christ, and through our ministry, our words, and our life, how many of them are brought into the kingdom of God? We really get disappointed by that answer.  So, the question is, Lord can I do something in my life because I have only few years ahead of me.  What can I do Lord? But in such a situation – Noah is an encouragement.  When we look at the life of Noah – God can use anybody.  He is a restorer – He is a God who restores our life.

Joel 2:25 – “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.

When we turn back and look at our lives, we see different kinds of locusts were living in our life.  We were not spending our time for God.  We were not giving the way we are giving today.  We were not bringing up children the way we are bringing them up today.  We were walking away from God through many years of our lives.  Our years were eaten by these locusts.  But the Bible says that our God is a restorer.   He will bring those years back in our life.  What does that mean? If we decide to move forward the way Noah was, God will bring back those years in our life.  Our life will be extended, and God will speed up your ministry for the rest of our life.  What is the most important thing is – how Noah obeyed the call of God instantly and even at such an age, God entrusted Noah with such a great responsibility.

  • To build the Ark, there were several instructions that he had to follow.
  • We do not know how many people really helped him build the Ark.
  • The kind of help he got to transport timber from one location to another location is unknown.
  • It was  a massive vessel, how Noah managed all this by himself is very astounding.
  • But the Bible says  Noah did everything according to the instructions given by God.

We are never too old to build; What we need today is the zeal, the courage and determination.
It is the obedience to the call of God and God is going to take care of the rest of the year.  God is going to bring everything on our way, but we could do something for God before we end our lives on this Earth.  Learning from the leadership ability of Noah – we see that a leader does not worry about his age, all that he worries about is hearing from God.  The moment he hears from God, he is right there onto the business of obeying God.

2. You don’t need to rely on your past experience:

The instruction was to build the ark, and God is about to send rain on the face of Earth. If we ask Noah about how he could build an ark, he will very well say that he did not know anything about rain and that he has never heard of rain in his life.  All that he will know is that he heard from God.  He will say that God spoke to me and God asked me to build the ark.  The second characteristic of a great leader is the fact that we do not have to rely on our experience.

God will often ask you to do what has never been done before:

God is going to ask us to do certain things in our lives which we have never done.  You would have never preached, probably never sang, but when God asks, we are going to do it.

  • Noah had never seen rain in his lifetime, before the flood there was no rain in the history.  Rain was a new thing for Noah, he did not have any clue about what rain is.
  • If we research all the way from Noah to Adam, there is not even one person who could verify what God spoke to Noah.

God said that He is going to send rain on the face of the Earth.  If we were to ask Abraham, Abel or Cain if they had seen rain before, they are going to say they have never heard of it.  When we think about it, Noah heard from God, but there was nobody who could verify what he had heard.  Nobody was there to support Noah on what he had heard from God.  This shows us that we do not need to rely on our experience, it may be good, but we do not need to rely on it.  Instead, we need to rely on the Word of God (not on our feelings and experience).

Rely on the Word of the Lord, not your feelings or past experiences:

  • Noah would have been discouraged during those 100 years during which he was building the ark, he had never experienced a single drop of water falling from heaven.
  • But the Lord spoke to him about rain.  It will surely be disappointing if he tried relying on experience as he had never experienced rain before.
  • He probably could have payed saying Lord I do not want to see rain, but please send a few drops of water from heaven.  He did not do that because he did not want to rely on his past experience.
  • But he never got discouraged, he was holding onto the word that was spoken to him.

We rely on our past experience:

  • Today the leadership experts say that you lead based on the success you gained in the past – something which you tried and worked out and if you try today it will work out.
  • Church builders say that you build a church in someplace now you try to replicate what you did to build the church.  So, if you are successful in building in one, if you replicate or duplicate the process you will be able to build 100 churches based on past experience.
  • For example, somebody is sick, and you are called to pray for them, you go to the house with an idea of how you prayed when someone else called you to pray in the past.  You could have prayed to someone who is sick, and they will be raised from their bed.  With that same idea, when you walk into another house and you are called to pray for them, but now when you start praying the demon in her/him started manifesting.  You cannot pray in the same manner; your past experience may not help here for this situation.
  • Most of the time God wants us to rely on the Word of God – on His promises.  Not on our past experience.

Noah, not having experienced even a single drop of water from heaven and he did not have any idea about what a flood was.  Yet he was depending on God’s Word not on his feelings and experience.  That means God can use anybody – as long as we receive from God and hear from God and obey what God says.  Most often there is a danger  about going by our past experience – our past experience will not allow us to believe what God says.  It will not really help us believe in the Word that God has spoken to us.  When we pray for our healing for instance, we feel better and start praying more, and then we feel much better than before and as we keep praying, we keep feeling better and based on that we pray more.  That prayer is based on our feeling, not on our faith.  Faith is – I know this is what God said and I claim the promise of God, in Jesus name I am healed; and just walk out of that situation.  That is faith.  When you try to base faith on feelings and experience it is not going to work.  We get discouraged.  At such times we try to question God and doubt God whether this is really happening.  That is the reason we cannot rely on feelings and experience, we need to rely on the Word of God.  It is challenging to put our faith in God and move forward.  When we do go by our feelings and experience, most of the time we do not obey God.  We will do what we feel like doing it or repeat what we did in past.

The definition of faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things that are not seen.  You don’t see any evidence of your health becoming better, but it becomes better all of a sudden.  That is true faith.  Nobody tells us that God may ask us to do something which we have never done before in the past.  According to the leadership teachings we probably cannot do it because we do not have past experience.  But God asked Noah to build an ark and he never experienced Noah.  Was Noah a carpenter? What was Noah’s profession? Noah was a farmer.  Can a farmer build an Ark? It seems impossible that a farmer that can build this huge vessel.  God really doesn’t need our experience, but God needs our obedience.

3. Make sure your vision is big enough to include everyone:

Noah is asking us to make sure that our vision is big enough to include everyone.  Noah was asked to build an ark to accommodate his family, his children, one pair of every living creature on the face of this Earth and seven pairs of clean birds.  Noah did not build the Ark according to one size, but according to the specifications given by God.

Luke 17:26 – And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man.  

This is what Jesus said.
Noah was asked to build the ark to protect the seed – the godly people, and the seed of the future generation of all creatures on the face of the Earth.  Jesus says what happened in the days of Noah will also happen in the days of the Son of Man.  This simply means, that God is about to bring destruction on the face of this Earth, including all the creations – they are going to be destroyed, not by flood but maybe by fire.  God is asking us today, to build the Ark.  When we are building the Ark, Noah is telling us to make sure our vision is big enough to include everyone.  The vision of the church must be big enough.

  • God has given us the burden to include all people regardless of their background in our church.
  • God wants us to make an Ark that can accommodate all people.  If we do not have such a big vision, we are going to lose some of those dear ones in the eternity because we don’t have room.

We build a church for a 100 people and we cannot contain a 120 people.  We build a church for 500 and we cannot contain 600 people, we are going to lose them.  Noah was very careful to include the next generation in the vision that God has given to him.  That is the reason children’s ministry is important – surrender your children and be there to help them.  Youth ministry is equally important.  If we don’t include them in the vision, when we are gone, there is nobody to continue God’s vision.  The church has to be closed.  When all of us are gone, we are going to go one day, God’s vision cannot be accomplished.  Noah was very careful to include the next generation in the ark.
When we sit together as a family to pray, it is very important to include your children.  When we discuss something spiritual it is important to include your children.  Le them get that vision that you carry in your life.  Our vision needs to be big enough.  This is a prophetic word for the church from:

Isaiah 60:3 – And nations shall walk into thy light, and kings at the brightness of thy rising.

The third characteristic of a great leader is that – Noah was able to magnify his vision in a bigger way that could accommodate everybody.

4. God doesn’t make the ark, we have to make it:

If we ask Noah about what helped him build the ark, Noah would say that he learnt one thing in the whole process of building the ark – God doesn’t make the Ark, we have to make it. The moment he got the vision, Noah did not sit and pray asking God to give him an Ark.

  • God did not give him an ark, He is not in the business of making Arks.
  • But God gave a design to Noah, that happens in our life too, God gives the instruction/design, but we have to build it.
  • Noah had to build the Ark.
  • But God did one thing, He grew the gopher tree.  Noah cannot do that.
  • God broke open the deep and God sent rain from above.  Noah cannot do that either.A leader gets a vision from God and he doesn’t just pray about it and leave it there.  He starts doing something about it.
  • It is not either praying or doing, but it is both praying and doing.
  • Sometimes we use prayer as an excuse for not doing anything.  Sometimes, we as believers, pray for more and we do very less about it.
  • Eventually we appear to be as fools in front of the unbelievers.
  • Because we say that we believe in our prayer and expect God to work on behalf of us.

But God did not say that we don’t need to study or prepare.  We really need to work hard.  If Noah had been sitting and waiting because he believes all the promises of God will given because God said – Ask me and it will be given; the ark would not come in front of him.  He worked hard for 100 years.  That does not mean the Word of God is lying.  It’s not “either”, “or”, but “both” are important.

When leaders get a vision, they not only pray about it, but they do something about it.

Think about the vision that God has given in your life.  Where is that vision now? If you did not do anything about it, it is not going to come by itself, prayer is not magic.  The more you work and the more you pray, and then God makes it happen.  He makes it happen.  What about your higher studies we wanted to do, God gave us that vision and promise, but now it has not happened.  Why? Because we are not working, just praying.  We fast and pray but nothing happens.  A leader who gets a vision, not only prays about it, but does something about it.
Nehemiah, another great leader, is in the process of building walls for the city of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 4:7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion.  Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.

They prayed about it and also set watchmen.  Praying about it and doing something about it is when we see the work of God.  When Nehemiah finished praying, he did not wait for God to come and protect.  He appointed security guards everywhere.

  • Our prayer should never stop us from doing something.
  • Our prayers should never stop you from taking medical help when it is needed.
  • Your prayer shouldn’t stop you from putting all your effort in your studies and in your job.

At times we become fools in front of others as it does not work for everybody.  At times people quit medical help and rely on prayer and die prematurely, that is not the will of God.  God wants you to live to the fulness, until the day that God has appointed.  We need to pray about it, but we should never stop seeking medical help when it is needed.  We should never stop studying and working hard just because we prayed.  It is both prayer and action.

When God gave a vision to Noah, he went on doing something about it and eventually he built the Ark.

Summary:

1.  You are never too old to build
2.  You don’t need to rely on your past experience
3.  Make sure your vision is big enough to include everyone
4.  God doesn’t make the ark, we have to make it

Learning from the OT Leaders : Moses – Reluctant but Willing

Series: Learning from the OT Leaders | Title: Moses – Reluctant but Willing | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday January 14, 2018

Moses – Reluctant but Willing

This sermon is a continuation of the series titled – “Learning from the Old Testament Leaders”.  The first leader from the Old Testament is Moses.  The moment we think of Moses, these are the following things that come to mind: he parted the red sea in half by the power of God, he was supposed to be dead as a baby, he obeyed God, he was not a fluent speaker, he had a face to face encounter with God, the incident of the burning bush, he was an intercessor, he was brought up as an Egyptian Prince, and so on.

The burning bush incident tells us that he was reluctant, not willing to lead but was forced to lead.  We read that from:

Exodus 3:7 – And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.

Exodus 3:10 – Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you must lead My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

God says that Moses “must” lead His children out of Egypt.  To this Moses replies –

Exodus 3:11 – But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

God re-assures Moses and says –

Exodus 3:12 – So He said, “I will certainly be with you.  And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

Moses, still being doubtful –

Exodus 3:13 – Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’  what shall I say to them?”

To which God replies –

Exodus 3:14 – And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”  And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”

Then Moses, being anxious said what if they do not believe me or listen to me?  To this God asked Moses to place the staff which he held in his hand on the ground which immediately turned into a serpent and when Moses lifted it up it turned back into a staff.  To re-assure Moses, God asked him to put his hand into his bosom and take it out.  The hand was leprous and again he did the same and the hand was clean.  Did this satisfy Moses?  No!

Exodus 4:10 – Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant;  but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

To lift him up, God said –

Exodus 4:11, 12 – So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth?  Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?  12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

After hearing all of this from God, finally Moses gave up and asked God to send someone else.

Exodus 4:13 – But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”

There is no doubt Moses was a reluctant leader.  Right now, God is speaking to you, prophetically concerning our future. Eventually Moses turned out to be a great leader.  The main purpose of this teaching is to observe the qualities of Moses as a leader.  This is a quick overview of who Moses was:

A quick overview of Moses’ life:

Moses was born in Egypt and was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, yet he had a passion in his heart for his own people because he saw a Hebrew getting beaten by an Egyptian whom he killed.  After 40 years of life in the palace, Moses had to flee for his life. He fled into Midian and there he became a shepherd boy.  That continued until he met God in the burning bush.  Another 40 years went by when Moses reluctantly accepted the calling of God in his life.  He was willing to go back to Egypt.  When he went to Egypt, God did amazing things through Moses.  Each event that took place in the life of Moses from Egypt to Mount Sinai – we truly see his role as a prophet, a priest, a ruler and as a savior of Israel.  There is no doubt that Moses was called by God and how he reluctantly accepted the calling of God.

Characteristics of Moses:

  • He was a murderer.
  • He was a reluctant leader.
  • He was easily provoked because of his short-tempered nature as we see in the Bible from the incidence when he was coming down from Mount Sinai and broke the tablet containing the ten commandments written by the hand of God.
  • He disobeyed God by hitting the rock instead of speaking to the rock.
  • Eventually he was punished by God when he was barred from entering the promised land.

God used Moses to lead His people from the land of Egypt.  Nobody in the Bible was used in such a great manner. Moses was made for a time such as that, where it is impossible to think of a leader that could replace Moses.

Scripture Reading:

Exodus Chapter 2 verses 11 through 15 – Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens.  And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12  So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13  And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, “Why are you striking your companion?”  14 Then he said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us?  Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”  So, Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known!”  15 When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses.  But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian;  and he sat down by a well.

Acts 7:17  “But when the time of the promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt 18 till another king arose who did not know Joseph.  19 This man dealt treacherously with our people, and oppressed our forefathers, making them expose their babies, so that they might not live.  20 At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God;  and he was brought up in his father’s house for three months.  21 But when he was set out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son.  22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.  23 “Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel.  24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian.  25 For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.  26 And the next day he appeared to two of them as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one another?’  27 But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us?  28 Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a dweller in the land of Midian, where he had two sons.

30 “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai.  31 When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight;  and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him,  32 saying, ‘I am the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’  And Moses trembled and dared not look.  33 ‘Then the Lord said to him, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.  34 I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt;  I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.” ’

35 “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’  is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush.  36 He brought them out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years.

Numbers Chapter 12 –
Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married;  for he had married an Ethiopian woman.  So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses?  Has He not spoken through us also?”  And the Lord heard it.  (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)

Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!”  So the three came out.  Then the Lord came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward.  Then He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision;
I speak to him in a dream.  Not so with My servant Moses;  He is faithful in all My house.  I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;  And he sees the form of the Lord.  Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant Moses?”  
So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed.  10 And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow.  Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper.  11 So Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord!  Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned.  12 Please do not let her be as one dead, whose flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother’s womb!”

13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!”

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not be shamed seven days?  Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterward she may be received again.”  15 So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again.  16 And afterward the people moved from Hazeroth and camped in the Wilderness of Paran.

What Moses considered his strengths, eventually became his weaknesses:

After reading these three references from the word of God where Moses is portrayed, we get a bigger picture.  Whatever Moses considered as a strength during his early stage becomes a weakness during his later time.  This can be true for us.  Now Moses is not eloquent – slow to speech and tongue tied.  Moses who once was living in Pharaoh’s house is later not able to face Pharaoh.  Moses is angry with people and broke the covenant tablets.  Moses was again angry and upset when people in Kadesh were crying out for water opposing Moses’ leadership and wanted to kill him.  Moses comes and says “Hear now you rebels”.  That is how Moses spoke, we do not see this often.  He was very angry and upset.  This is when he struck the rock out of anger instead of talking to the rock.  He brought the children of God out of Egypt and did so many wonders but was eventually barred out of Canaan.

Zealous & Passionate:

Moses is a great comfort to us since we look up to him and want God to use us the way we are.  Often, we say we want to cleanse ourselves and then serve God, but God wants to use us the way we are.  Moses was a zealous and passionate man of God.  He was very passionate about what he was doing.

Acts 7:22 – And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in words and in deeds.

At times we complain about our work, but God says that He wants us to be passionate about what we do.  When Moses was in Pharaoh’s palace, we gained a lot of wisdom from the Egyptians.  He learned about Geography, Physics, natural History, Symbols, Pictographs, Arithmetic, Geometry and everything the Egyptian way.  He was not sitting idle, he was always equipped filled with wisdom and skills to battle in the battlefield and lead the army.  Moses was very passionate about everything.  Great leaders were not achieving many things at the start of their career, but they were very passionate about what they were doing.  They were not just given a Nobel Prize when they are working in the laboratory, thinking of one day in the future when they will be rewarded.

Romans 12:11 – “Never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord”.  God always wants us to keep our spiritual temperature high.  But many factors like sickness, work, financial situation and things of the world will not allow this.  But God always wants us to keep our spiritual temperature high.  But Moses was very passionate.  He was teased by the Hebrews – “Who made you as a leader  and ruler over us?”  but God made him the leader.

His passion made him a ruler and judge:

Acts 7:35 – “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush.

When people reject, God is there to lift us up.  The place where we fall, that is the same place where we will also get up. God can rise you in the same place you failed.  We are all called to lead.

Moses was zealous, not Aaron:

Why was Aaron not given the leadership even though he was very good at speech?  Aaron was the one who was making the golden calf, he made the people worship the golden calf. But when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, the holy zeal for the Lord was burning within him as a leader.  Now we realize why Aaron was not made a leader.  But God was still holding onto Moses even though he was reluctant to take the leadership role.

Dependency on God (seen from in every step Moses took):

The reason God is holding onto you is because God found something special in your life.  You may fail in other areas of your life, but God looks at your life and character that you have.  Moses was a leader called to lead, he was dependent on God.  God wants us to depend on Him.  Moses was constantly connected to God.  He was always consulting God for everything, that made him to be a great leader.

Numbers 7:7 – Not so with My servant Moses;  He is faithful in all My house.  8 I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;  And he sees the form of the LORD.  Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?”

Some of us are living in this mess today because we failed to listen to the voice of the Lord in the decisions we made in our life.  Right now, God is telling you to come back to Him and listen to Him in every decision you make.  Because every step that we are going to make is important for our family, our children and for the benefit of the kingdom of God.

Moses heard from God before each plague was sent out:

Moses was in Egypt and before every plague was struck in the house of Egyptians Moses was asked by God to warn them.

Exodus 8:1-2 And the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your territory with frogs.

He is a God who speaks and tells us what to do.

Standing in front of the Red Sea:

When Moses was standing in front of the red sea, pharaoh’s army were coming at the back, and being surrounded by Mountains – the children of Israel did not know what to do.  Moses cried out to God asking Him what to do.  God spoke to him:

Exodus 14:15 – And the LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.  16 But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it.”

As they complained for food:

Again, when the children of Israel complained to Moses about how they did not have food to eat and were dying in this wilderness questioning why Moses brought them out.  Moses went to God again to which God replied,

Exodus 16:11 – And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 12 “I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel.  Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread.  And you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’ ”

Burden for people:

As leaders God wants us to depend fully on Him on our future, children, marriage, education and every step of our life.  If we decide to take a step without the permission of God, it is not going to be good.  Moses was very clear on that.  Moses was a great leader because he had the burden for the people.  Although he was living in the palace of the Pharaoh he went out and saw the burden of his people.

Exodus 2:11 – Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens.

But when he saw his people being oppressed, his heart burned within himself.  Moses did not hide himself from the face of the reality.  A leader cannot stay silent when people are suffering and are oppressed.  Moses truly challenges the leaders of 21st century.  When the power is given to us, Moses says “do not keep quiet when people are oppressed”.  God saw the heart of Moses and decided to make him the deliverer.  When we have the burden for people, God sees you and sees our heart.  Many times, we do not have that, we struggle within ourselves.  When Moses came down from the mountain, people were already worshiping idols under Aaron’s leadership.  Moses foresaw the kind of punishment that would be bestowed upon his people.  He did not want his people perishing under their sins in front of his own eyes.

Exodus 32:32 – Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.

Who prays such a prayer?  We need such a great leader.
God is putting some burdens in our heart these days and God wants to use you in the coming days and God wants to honor you.  Intercession is not a characteristic of a prayer warrior, but a characteristic of a leader.  If God is calling you to intercede, you are not just called to pray, but you are called to lead.  God put that burden in Moses and not in Aaron.  That tells that Moses was called to lead.  If God is burdening you with souls, he is not expecting us to sit in our rooms and pray.  He is calling us to lead the same way he called Moses.

Highly favored by God:

Moses was a man of God because he was highly favored by God.  We all wish to be favored by God today.  The favor of God is what makes a successful leader.  Today we see many leaders and many leading in the secular and spiritual world.  They are not very talented or equipped to lead.  But they are called to lead because they have the favor of God.  Moses was a short-tempered man, but God says he was humble:

Numbers 12:3 – Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.

At times, God does not see our shortcomings if we have the favor of God in our life.  We need to cry out for that favor today.  Moses was disobedient, God is telling him to go but he repeatedly came up with excuses.  He was even punished for his disobedience.  But still, God says he is faithful:

Numbers 12:7 – Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house.

Looks like God is partial, but that is not the case.  That teaches us to not judge anybody on what they do.  When God has a favor for him/her nobody can stand against them.

What was the secret of this supernatural favor upon Moses?

Hebrews 11:24-26 – It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.  26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.

This is the secret of divine favor upon your life.  God’s favor is going to be upon us, our family and children if we practice these scriptures.  These are the secrets we need to mediate upon:

  • God is asking us to step out by faith to serve people just like Moses stepped out of his comfort zone
  • The favor came upon Moses because he chose to participate in other sufferings without being selfish.  When we stop living for ourselves divine favor is upon us
  • When we try to push aside the worldly pleasures, we receive the divine favors of God.  We may look like fools to the world, but when we are doing it, we receive the divine favor of God upon our lives
  • We should set our minds not to acquire the wealth of this world and become too rich, but just enough to feed us every day.  Moses was not interested to get the treasures of Egypt.  Those who decide to work for the eternal reward are highly favored by God.

We learnt from Moses:

  • To be zealous and passionate about what we do
  • To depend on God in every step of our life
  • To have the burden for people as it is a leadership quality
  • Somehow obtain the favor of God by pleasing Him as Moses did according to Hebrews 11:24 -26

Quote: Intercession is not a characteristic of a prayer warrior alone, intercession is a characteristic of a leader.  If God is burdening you to intercede, you are not just called to pray, but you are called to lead.  (Life of Moses – Exodus 32:32)

 

Learning from the Old Testament Leaders – Introduction

Series: General | Title: Learning from the OT Leaders – Introduction | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday January 07, 2018

Learning from the Old Testament Leaders – Introduction

Today we are going to start a new series called – “Learning from the Old Testament Leaders”.  When we teach leadership on a Sunday morning, many might think – “Why do we need to teach leadership on a Sunday morning service? Not all of them are leaders who are coming here on a Sunday morning service. There may be people who have never heard of Jesus, who are here for the first time or children are here and some would have come with an expectation of spiritual enlightenment & spiritual thrill to be received during a Sunday morning service. And you want to teach about leadership?” But I thought about this, and what really drove me to this sermon series and start on a Sunday morning is this – I was thinking about what Jesus was doing for three and a half years?

What do you think He did during these three and a half years? I believe He was trying to develop leadership. Think about it. All that Jesus did for three and a half years was to educate, teach and impart those skills of leadership into the twelve apostles. That is exactly what Jesus did and I strongly believe that is what the churches would need today. We need good leaders. There are many books in this world on the topic of Leadership, but only one starts with the right foundation on Leadership and that is the world’s best-selling book. Does anybody have any idea about what is the world’s best-selling book? The number one bestselling book is the Bible, fortunately also the best leadership manual. We are glad that we can base our teaching on the best-selling book.

We are going into the Word of God to learn from the lives of men and women who are called to lead during the Old Testament days. The Old Testament leaders are Abraham, Isaac, Noah, Moses, Jonah, Joshua, Joseph, David, Gideon, and Nehemiah and the list goes on. These are a couple of good leaders we see in the Old Testament. There is a great scarcity of leadership in the Christian world. Good leaders are not available in the Christian world. But who knows, as we speak on leadership, I strongly believe God will raise some leaders from this congregation in the coming days. At times, many of us don’t see ourselves as leaders. Nobody is born as a leader – there is no label. Leaders are not born, but they are raised. Leadership can be nurtured, it can be cultivated, it can be taught. But it is up to an individual to stand as a leader. A leader is the one who knows the way – the best leader is our Lord Jesus Christ because He said I am the way. “A Leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way” – as said by John C Maxwell.

What are we called for?

We are called to lead – the commandment that Jesus gave to the disciples is to go and preach the gospel all over the world and make them disciples. If we think about that commandment, it was not only for that small group. It is a commandment that was given to all of us. We are called to make disciples. Church is not meant to sit passively and watch others leading. We are called to lead broken lives. That was the call of God upon the lives of the disciples and that is the call of God upon our lives. We are called to bring healing to this land, we are called to heal the broken hearted. That is the reason why Jesus Christ came into this world according to the Scriptures. Prophet Isaiah says He came to heal the broken hearted.

Isaiah 61:1 – “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”

“Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less” – John C. Maxwell

We are all called for various reasons, this is the call of God that helps us see beyond the walls of the Church. The call of God is on our lives, it is up to us to grab it or leave it. The challenge that is in front of us is to take our eyes and set our eyes beyond the four walls of the church to see the heart of the city. In the book – Developing Leaders Within You, John C Maxwell states that “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” Everybody is influenced by others – be it our house or our workplace. Sometimes we think that pastoral call is a higher call than the call of God in our lives – to work in our workplace, to be in the classroom, with our friends, in a factory floor or to be in the nursing home. We are all called by God to do something. At times we consider something else much higher than our call. But  we are all called in God’s kingdom. God has called us and put us in a place where we can influence others. We are not in the church all the seven days of the week, we are at workplaces, schools, spending time with family and so on. But we are called to influence. But in this journey, none of us are perfect.

Perfection is not a quality needed for a leader, the only perfect leader is our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Here a little, there a little”:

There are a couple of principles that we need to apply as we study and as we move further. One important principle is called – “Here a little, there a little”. The Bible does not say that Abraham was a great leader because of his leadership style. Nor does it say that Moses was a great leader because in his leadership he achieved many things. Even Joshua was not considered a great leader because he was a man of courage. As a student of the Word of God, we need to be careful to observe the leadership qualities in the Word of God. We need to apply these scriptural principles.

Isaiah 28:10 – “For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” 

NLT: Isaiah 28:10 – “He tells us everything over and over–one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there!”

  • Precept is a principle.
  • As a student of the word of God, we need to collect everything together.
  • There is another scripture that says none of the scripture stands on its own, it has a mate. There is a pair for every scripture.
  • We need to search and find that mate of that scripture and they are all linked together.
  • To find the qualities of a great leader from the Old Testament – we will be linking pieces of scripture together.

God commended the Old Testament leaders:

When we think about the Old testament leaders, these men and women are commended by God for their leadership qualities. The Bible tells us that these men and women obeyed God when God commanded them. Most of all they feared God and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. One example is from –

Genesis 1:38 – So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” Pharaoh realized that Joseph has the spirit of God and is being led by the Spirit.

  • Connecting this with the New Testament we find in Acts that the Apostles must appoint leaders in the church and the main qualification was to be filled by the Holy Spirit.
  • They must be spirit-filled people who are led by the Holy Spirit. A leader is one who is filled with the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit.
  • The Pharaoh is testifying about Joseph when he asked if it is possible to find a leader such as Joseph who is filled with the Holy Spirit in whom the Spirit of God of God was present.

True leaders are defined by their characteristics:

Job 1:1 – “There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.” 

  • Job was blameless, nobody could point a finger at him and he was doing the right things in life. He feared God and he shunned evil, these are the qualities that God commends about Job.
  • Many of the leaders in the Old Testament are commended by the Word of God and the ten commandments were embedded in their hearts.
  • Exodus 20:16 – “You shall not bear false witness.”  It is one of the ten commandments.
  • A simple example that explains what a false witness is – our employer will be able to trust in us only when they know that we do not lie – truthful and trustworthy.
  • The lying spirit is not from God. When we think about Joseph and David, we see this. Lying is a sin.
  • True leaders are defined by their characteristics. How do we build those characteristics in our lives? By the help of the Holy Spirit. God gives us grace and power to build those characteristics.
  • God is the most powerful being and He is the best leader too.

True leaders are teachable:

Proverbs 18:2 – “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.”

When we read the word of God and do not try to understand it, we are speaking of our own heart and not willing to learn. Proverb 5:12-13 – “How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised correction. I have not obeyed  the voice of my teachers nor incline my ears to those who instructed me.” We all want to be taught by God. To become a good leader, we must have a teachable spirit. Nobody will be interested in investing their time in somebody who is not willing to learn.

An unteachable spirit will not listen to God. The problem is pride. Proverbs 26:12 – “Do you see a man wise in His own eyes, there is more hope for a fool than for him.” We encounter people who are wise in their eyes, it could be us. It is true because pride stops a person from listening and from being taught. A proud heart brings an unteachable spirit. But God wants us to have a teachable spirit.

Two things that we need to ask God are:

  1. We need a spirit of submission. 1 Peter 5:5 – “In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.””
  2. We need to ask God for a mind to accept discipline and correction. Proverbs 13:18 – “Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.” God wants to discipline us so that we can become somebody who is honored.

Summary:

  1. We are called to lead
  2. We are called to influence
  3. We are committed to learn from the lives of the OT leaders
  4. By applying here a little, there a little principle
  5. These men and women are commented by others and by God
  6. Leaders are defined by their characteristics
  7. True leaders are truly teachable
  8. The underlying cause of unteachable spirit is pride
  9. Ask God for a spirit of submission that accepts discipline and correction.