I suppose we all have a favorite character in literature—fictional or historical as well as the one we dislike most. I have little liking for the Marquis de Sade. One of his chief pleasures, he has someone say, was to “corrupt the innocent.” And Shakespeare’s sly conniving Iago is ugly down deep but personally the one who sets my teeth on edge is Hawthorne’s hateful Roger Chillingworth who in “righteous” viciousness torments, tortures his alienated young wife Hester and the weak young preacher Arthur Dimmesdale who got involved with her. You must sometime, if you are a reader invest the time to read The Scarlet Letter. (Did I tell you I updated it and made it so much easier to read? Hawthorne’s style makes it very difficult for modern readers and it’s too great a book to miss. I added a few paragraphs to develop a few thoughts Hawthorne was making but the book fully remains Hawthorne’s. I hope you read it and allow his brilliant work to open your eyes and heart in many ways as it has done mine.) Believe me, “righteous” Chillingworth is alive and well in the world today.
But heroes! The countless unsung and unknown (except to a handful of the world’s billions)! Add to those the grand women and men who are known and worthy of praise—who can number them, eh? People who consciously lay down their lives in a single act of breathtaking generous self-giving and others (vaster in number) who lay down their lives by gallant living and working for decades until their tired bodies and willing hearts can do no more. Excluding the obvious among us whose malevolence and delight in the demonic is so startling that all the social-sciences can’t come close to “explaining”. There’s a power we turned loose, a monstrous, stalking predator that is as cunning and well-disguised as it is vindictive and insatiable. Across the world there are places and there have been eras where it wore and wears no disguise but now that we are “wise” neuro-scientists, sociologists and psychologists we can explain all in terms of neurons, genetics, socio-psychology, cultural anthropology and more—without remainder. So much truth and wisdom there—not unwise or untrue in what it includes but blind to what it excludes and so somewhere beyond human vision a cosmic parasite feeds on the powerless, the voiceless and the innocent through the powerful ones that it corrupts. We see it’s work and mistake the undeniable destruction for the Great Feeder and Destroyer—and that too is the deep cunning of the predator, when the genuinely wise become fools even in their wisdom (Romans 1:21-22) and serve the great corrupter.
But I’ve drifted from the point I wished to make. More than anyone else in the Bible I admire Moses. Of course he was flawed and of course he sulked and ran off and in a colossal sulk refused to circumcise his older boy and in that refusal withholding his firstborn from God and yes he tried constantly to turn down the new commission to deliver Israel. But what a man, what a burden he carried, what ceaseless criticism he endured and what a mesmerizing self-giving word to God he speaks in Exodus 32:32 (with chapter 33), “If you won’t take this sinful nation home I don’t want to go either.”
Forty years with a nation and its leaders breaking his heart, even his sister and brother joining in the attacks and then, precisely because he was so magnificent a leader and model, he is not permitted to enter the promised land though it broke his heart and he begged until God told him I don’t want you to speak of it to Me again (Deuteronomy 3:24-26). Sinner or not, flawed or not, he was someone in whose shadow a nation found freedom and shelter from the burning heat of life in a sad bad world. (See Isaiah 32:2c.)
Doesn’t the very thought of him make you want to be a shadow for some poor soul—at least one—so they can find relief from the relentless and debilitating heat of life? Oh God. Wouldn’t we like to believe that despite our flaws we could end our lives assured that we were a shadow for someone, protecting them from the blistering and killing heat that would indeed end them? A grandchild maybe, a son. daughter, wife, husband, a friend or even someone farther removed from us!
I mustn’t leave the impression that this is an impossible task or that it isn’t being done! It’s happening all over the place. I’ve found women and men who were shadows for me in critical times, lonnnng critical times. I just want to be that to someone.
And Moses died in faith despite the onslaught of the World Hater who used everything and everyone against him. He wasn’t alone in this. Women and men are listed in Hebrews 11 as people of “whom the world was not worthy.” And in Hebrews 3:1-5 the writer speaks of Moses in a marvelous and admiring way and then he says: BUT CHRIST…………….Finish the sentence in any way you wish. It’s no insult to Moses. On the mount of Transfiguration God said, “Don’t hear Moses, don’t hear Elijah, don’t hear John the Baptist, don’t hear David don’t hear the popular teachers…..Hear My Son!”