Knowing Our Place

Michael Beck

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Moses and Aaron were criticized for not “knowing their place,” and lifting themselves up beyond where they should have stayed.

Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? (Numbers 16:1-3)

Moses knew his place: prostrate before God.

And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face (Numbers 16:4)

Moses told his critics that all he did was not of his own mind.

And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind. (Numbers 16:28)

Jesus was also criticized as one who lifted Himself up and acted by His own human agency (i.e., in the flesh.) He refuted this and made clear that He only spoke and acted by the quickening of the Spirit.

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)

We may think that we can change others by our efforts, but the flesh profits nothing; only what is done by God’s Spirit is effectual.

I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee. (Isaiah 57:12)

Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. (Isaiah 48:17)

The “wrath of man,” (i.e., the stirred-up, passionate energies of man) do not work the righteousness of God.

For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (James 1:20)

wrath > Greek – orge > movement or agitation of the soul, impulse, desire, any violent emotion, but esp. anger

The wicked don’t earnestly seek God because they don’t believe there will be any profit in doing so.

What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him? (Job 21:15)

When we humble ourselves before God, and pray, and seek His face, God can use us to produce real change in those around us.

But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. (Jeremiah 23:22)

The activity of our own mind and spirit profits no one. To the contrary, we do damage to others and cause them to go astray.

Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:32)

The blind lead the blind into ditches. Every true, effectual instrument of God seeks God in and for all things. 

For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts. Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day. The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. (Isaiah 9:13-16)

We can be greatly used by God. We can be “vessels of honor,” bringing about the change He would like to see in the earth.

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. (2 Timothy 2:20-23)

Being used of God depends on whether we “go with His flow,” or get caught up with things He has not called us to be focused on.

Our rightful place is being on our face before God. When we do so we become a “man of wisdom” who hears His cry.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? The LORD’S voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it. (Micah 6:8,9)

God requires us to “walk humbly with” Him, finding our sufficiency to accomplish anything good through Him. When we move with His Spirit, He enables us to bring change into the lives of others. When we move in our own spirit we get in His way.

Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. (2 Corinthians 3:1-6)

God gives grace to the humble. When we know our place before God, He makes all grace abound toward us, giving us all we need for all He calls us to do.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:8-11)

The “work of the Lord” in and through our life is never “labor in vain.”

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

<<A Song of degrees for Solomon.>> Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. (Psalm 127:1)

Jesus calls those who labor in their own strength to come to Him and find rest.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Matthew 11:28,29)

Those who enter into God’s rest cease from their own works.

For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:10)

Every true work of God is accomplished by His Spirit working in us, and not by our own power.

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)

God is able to do far above and beyond all we can ask or think according to His power at work in us.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, (Ephesians 3:20)

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.