March 23: Reason: Not the Ultimate Power
Numbers 27:1–23; 1 Corinthians 10:1–22; Psalm 22:14–31
Reason is a gift from God, but that doesn’t make it a substitute for seeking God’s will through prayer.
Moses appears to have been an intelligent man. He figured out how to flee Egypt after killing an Egyptian, how to survive in the wilderness, and how to make his way back without prosecution. He also transformed non-militarized men into a military and taught them to craft the weaponry necessary to win countless battles. But Moses didn’t rely on these abilities; he relied on asking God His will and waiting for His guidance.
Moses relies on God’s will so often that I’m convinced that the actions that appear to come from great intelligence and reason—like his ability to escape and reenter Egypt and his ability to train people in combat—were based on God’s direct guidance.
We see Moses seek God’s guidance in matters that he could have used reason to discern as well. In Numbers 27, when Moses is asked if a family should receive an inheritance of land (in the promised land) even though their father died without a son to inherit it, he could have simply said, “Of course; God is gracious. He won’t punish your entire family forever for your father’s sins.” (That was the reason they weren’t granted the land automatically.) His simple reason of “God is good” probably could have answered this for him. But Moses seeks God’s guidance instead. That’s the right answer.
Our culture overemphasizes reason. Often, the people best at reasoning are promoted—in our workplaces, our churches, and our government—so it’s easy to see reason as the ultimate power. Instead, though, we should seek God in all things. His guidance is always needed. While He gave us our minds, He also gave us the Spirit; and while the mind can fail, the Spirit, if truly sought, listened to, and waited upon, cannot.
What do you need to seek the Spirit’s guidance on that you are relying on reason for instead?
JOHN D. BARRY
- Then came the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir the son of Manasseh, of the family of Manasseh, the son of Joseph (and the names of his daughters were these, Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah) And stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the Priest, and before the Princes, and all the assembly at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, saying, Our father died in the wilderness, an he was not among the assembly of them that were assembled against the Lord in the company of Korah, but died in his sin, and had no sons. Wherefore should the name of our father be taken away from among his family, because he hath no son? give us a possession among the brethren of our father. Then Moses brought their cause before the Lord. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt give them a possession to inherit among their father’s brethren, and shalt turn the inheritance of their father unto them. Also thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die and have no son, then ye shall turn his inheritance unto his daughter. And if he have no daughter, ye shall give his iheritance unto his brethren. And if he have no brethren, ye shall give his inheritance unto his father’s brethren. And if his father have no brethren, ye shall give his inheritance unto his next kinsman of his family, and he shall possess it: and this shall be unto the children of Israel a law of judgment, as the Lord hath commanded Moses. Again the Lord said unto Moses, Go up into this mount of Abarim, and behold the land which I have given unto the children of Israel. And when thou hast seen it, thou shalt be gathered unto thy people also, as Aaron thy brother was gathered. For ye were disobedient unto my word in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the assembly to sanctity of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin. Then Moses spake unto the Lord, saying, Let the Lord God of the spirits of all flesh appoint a man over the Congregation, Who may go out and in befor them, and lead them out and in, that the Congregation of the Lord be not as sheep, which have not a shepherd. And the Lord said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, in whom is the Spirit, and put thine hands upon him. And set him before Eleazar the Priest, and before all the Congregation, and give him a charge in their sight, And give him of thy glory, that all the Congregation of the children of Israel may obey. And he shall stand before Eleazar the Priest, who shall ask counsel for him by the judgment of Urim before the Lord: at his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, and all the Congregation. So Moses did as the Lord hath commanded him, and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the Priest, and before all the Congregation. Then he put his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the Lord had spoken by the hand of Moses. Numbers 27:1–23
- Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, that all our fathers were under that cloud, and all passed through that sea, And were all baptized unto Moses, in that cloud, and in that sea, And did all eat the same spiritual meat, And did all drink the same spiritual drink (for they drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them: and the Rock was Christ.) But with many of them God was not pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things are our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters as were some of them, as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed fornication, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted him, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things came unto them for examples, and were written to admonish us, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you, but such as appertaineth to man: and God is faithful, which will not suffer you to be tempted above that you be able, but will give the issue with the temptation, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as unto them which have understanding: judge ye what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we that are many, are one bread and one body, because we all are partakers of one bread. Behold Israel, which is after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the Altar? What say I then? that the idol is anything? or that that which is sacrificed to idols, is anything? Nay, but that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not unto God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with the devils Do we provoke the Lord to anger? are we stronger than he? 1 Corinthians 10:1–22
- I am like water poured out, and all my bones are out of joint: mine heart is like wax: it is molten in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws, and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me, and the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced mine hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones, yet they behold, and look upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. But be not thou far off, O Lord, my strength: hasten to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword: my desolate soul from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth, and answer me in saving me from the horns of the unicorns. I will declare thy Name unto my brethren: in the midst of the Congregation will I praise thee, saying, Praise the Lord, ye that fear him: magnify ye him, all the seed of Jacob, and fear ye him all the seed of Israel. For he hath not spared nor abhorred the affliction of the poor: neither hath he hi his face from him, but when he called unto him, he heard. my praise shall be of thee in the great Congregation: my vows will I perform before them that fear him. The poor shall eat and be satisifed: they that seek after the Lord, shall praise him: your heart shall live forever. All the ends of the world shall remember themselves and turn to the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and he ruleth among the nations. All they that be fat in the earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down into the dust, shall bow before him, even he that cannot quicken his own soul. Their seed shall serev him: it shall be counted unto the Lord for a generation. They shall come and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, because he hath done it. Psalm 22:14–31