Last week in this paper, we wrote about how to glorify God. This week we wish to consider how we can be exalted by God. Let’s start with a little quiz. Do you know who the following are, Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi and Geuel? I really doubt that many will know without using a concordance to find the names. We’ll show who they were in just a moment, but for now, know that the Bible says that these men were rulers among the people and heads of the children of Israel.
So now, let’s try another little quiz. Do you know who the following are, Rahab, Elisha, Amos, Peter, Andrew, James, John, Joshua and Caleb? Though some may not know all of these people, most know at least a few of them. Most of these people would probably be considered common people at most, and in the case of Rahab, who is commonly known as “Rahab the harlot”, one that was considered well below the common class of person. Yet, their names are known by millions of people and they were exalted by God. The last two of these names, Joshua and Caleb bring us back to the first ten that you probably didn’t know. Joshua and Caleb were two of the twelve spies sent forth at God’s command to spy out the land of Canaan. The first ten names were the other ten of these twelve spies.
Since two of the twelve spies were exalted by God and the other ten “died by the plague of the Lord” (Num. 14:37), it would serve us well to examine the difference between the two groups. What was different about Joshua and Caleb from the others? The difference is easy to see. Joshua and Caleb had total faith in God to do that which He said He would do. Caleb said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” (Num. 13:30). Joshua said, “If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us: a land which floweth with milk and honey” (Num. 14:8). Both of these men had absolute faith in God. Such faith can be seen in many of those exalted by God. When Abraham was tested by God by the command to offer his son, he through whom God had made the promise to build a great nation and to bless all nations, Abraham had faith enough in God that he didn’t hesitate to obey God’s command. When Isaac asked where the lamb for a burnt offering was, Abraham’s reply showed his faith. He said, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering…” (Gen. 22:8). This incident is mentioned in “Faith’s Hall of Fame” where the Hebrew writer stated of Abraham, “Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” (Heb. 11:17-19). Abraham trusted God and obeyed His commands.
Another great example of one showing the faith in God that Joshua and Caleb did is that of David when he slew Goliath. The entire army of Israel was in fear of Goliath, like those ten spies, saying we can’t do it. The job is too great. Yet, David had complete faith in God. After Goliath mocked David as being a ruddy youth, David told him, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied” (I Sam. 17:45).
The key here is that God does not measure greatness in man in the same way that man does. As the Lord told Samuel in the choosing of David to be the king, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Sam. 16:7). God considers faithful obedience to Him as greatness. If we would desire to be exalted by God, we will have to humble ourselves and faithfully follow His commands. Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Being actively involved in religious activities, but without those activities being in harmony with God’s commands, falls far short of warranting being exalted by God (Matt. 7:22-23). One can be zealous of God, but not according to knowledge (Rom. 10:2).
Real faith in God, the kind that will result in being exalted by God, will require that we accept and obey what God said, trusting in God to give the result that He said, even when we cannot see any connection whatsoever between what God commanded us to do and what God promised we will receive. Naaman could not see the connection between dipping in the Jordan River and the cure of leprosy, but it was not until he dipped that he was cleansed (II Kings 5:1-14). The fact is, often there is no connection, but is instead, a test of our faith such as Abraham had when he was commanded to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering. Looking upon a serpent on a staff has no connection to curing snake bite, but those bitten who obeyed God in looking upon the serpent lived (Num. 21:8-9). Do you desire to be exalted by God? If you do, learn what God has commanded and then have faith enough to obey Him.
Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to: [email protected]