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  • Thursday ,04 August 2011

Life of humbleness & meekness (5)

Pope Shenouda III

Pope Shenouda Article


Sunday ,31 July 2011

Life of humbleness & meekness (5)

The greatest and true example of humbleness is that of God, blessed be His name.
 God alone can be described as humble.

   God alone is the highly lofty, who condescends from His loftiness. Any human being is but dust and ashes (Gen 18: 27), and before that was mere nihility. How can we say that anybody, being all sin and iniquity, is humble? Man is not in a high place that he may descend from it, nor in perfection that he may conceal it. Humbleness, as described by a father, is to know one's origin, weakness, and sin. 
   Humbleness is to know oneself. 
   God, unlike human beings, is perfect in His greatness, in His holiness and in His power, and unlimited in His perfection. He alone can be described as humble. This humbleness of God – as far as we understand it – and of each of the Persons of the Holy Trinity separately, is evident in the following examples:
• God's humbleness appears in His giving existence to the creation; rather than confining existence to Himself.
He was alone from eternity, before time, but in His humbleness He did not want to remain alone, so He created others from nihility. Many people who hold great positions or high ranks like to gather all power in their hands and not share with others any work or action! God, on the contrary, did not will to be alone, but gave existence to nihility, and gave it life, power, and authority!
• He gave some of His creation a very sublime nature. 
He made the angels "excel in strength" (Ps 103: 20). He described Satan, the angel who became a devil afterwards, as the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, the anointed cherub who covers, perfect in his ways from the day he was created till iniquity was found in him (Ezek 28: 12- 15).
• In His humbleness, God kept even the creation that disobeyed Him, and allowed them to have power and authority!
Satan rebelled and wanted to be like the Most High (Isa 14: 14), and brought down with him a big number of the heavenly host who were called his angels (Rev 12: 7). God could have consumed that resisting enemy, but in His humbleness, He did not do. He kept him and maintained for him some authority, as said about the wicked, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness." (Lk 22: 53) That enemy even got the power to work wonders and miracles. The Scripture says that the anti-Christ will come on the days of the last apostasy with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish (2 Thess 2: 9,10). 
Actually whenever I meditate how there are still people insulting and blaspheming God, others denying His existence, and others disobeying Him and inciting the others to disobey Him, and how He in spite of all this endures and not consume all of those who resist Him, I recognize how wonderful God's humbleness is!  
• In His humbleness, God avoids the praise worthy manifestations of greatness, and scarcely works miracles!
God is capable of dazzling people every day and every hour or moment with miracles, signs and wonder, with visions, revelations and holy apparitions that would make them praise His glory and bow before His power, or at least admit His existence, yet He does not do this! He confines working miracles to the very urgent necessities. He wants to attract people to Himself by love and conviction rather by wonders, miracles, and greatness.
• In His humbleness, God permits even the least of the people to speak to Him!
It is amazing that He permits the dust and ashes to speak to Him, before whom the angels, the archangels, the cherubim, the seraphim, and the innumerable heavenly host stand in awe and respect! A person may find it hard in most cases to speak with dust like himself, if that dust holds a high position or rank, yet everybody can speak and talk with God. One can even speak to Him after having broken His commands a few minutes or moments before!
• In His humbleness, God spoke even to the most evil sinners!
He spoke to Cain the first murderer on the earth. When Cain said to Him, "Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground … anyone who finds me will kill me." The Lord answered him with kindness and justice, saying, "Whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." (Gen 1: 15) 
• He also spoke through an angel to Balaam who had put a stumbling- block before the children of Israel (Rev 2: 14). God spoke by the Holy Spirit on Balaam's mouth prophecies which are the most famous on Incarnation (Num 24: 17). So that deceiver dared to say about himself, "The utterance of him who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, who falls down, with eyes opened wide," "who sees the visions of the Almighty." (Num 24: 3, 4, 16)
• In His humbleness, God appeared as taking the counsel of His prophets!
When the Lord saw that the outcry against Sodom and Gommorah was great, and their sin became very grievous (Gen 18: 20), He wanted to destroy them, but He said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing?" Who is Abraham, O Lord to whom You want to reveal Your will before doing it? Is he not a handful of dust and ashes? Nay, says the Lord, "Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him" (Gen 18: 17, 18)!
The Lord even gave Abraham the chance and freedom to argue, saying, "Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city … Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen 18: 24, 25) The dialogue continued, and the Lord in His humbleness accepted such bold arguing!
The same happened with Moses the Prophet when the Lord wanted to destroy the people because they had made a golden calf (Ex 32). The Lord decided to destroy that dishonest people, but before doing that He called Moses and said to him, "Your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it, and sacrificed to it, and said, 'This Is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!' Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them." (Ex 32: 7- 10) How wonderful is Your humbleness, O Lord! Who is this Moses, O Lord, that You ask him to let You alone to do Your will? Moreover, Moses did not let the Lord burn hot with anger and consume them, but said, "Yet now, if You will forgive their sin – but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written" (Ex 32: 32)!! The Lord responded to Moses and did not consume the people!
This reminds me of the Lord's wrestling with Jacob; He said to him, "Let Me go, for the day breaks." But Jacob said to Him, "I will not let You go unless You bless me!" (Gen 32: 26)
• We notice here that God, in His humbleness, permitted both Abraham and Moses to speak to Him with words that appear harsh!
Abraham says to the Lord, "Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen 18), and Moses says to Him, "Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people," "Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, 'He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth?" (Ex 32: 12)
• The Lord, in His humbleness, permits us to argue with Him, and even asks us to do so, saying, "Come, let us reason together." (Isa 1: 18)
Some people do not accept that anybody argues with them concerning whatever commands or decisions they give or make. They consider it pride and going beyond limits on the part of the person arguing with them, a matter which may degrade their honor and reverence! God on the contrary, in His humbleness, accepts arguing and reasoning.  
Job says to Him, "Do not condemn me, show me why You contend with me. Does it seem good to You that You should oppress, that You should despise the work of Your hands?" (Job 10: 2, 3)
Jeremiah says to Him, "Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?" (Jer 12: 1)
David the Prophet likewise says, "Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?" (Ps 10: 1)
The Lord hears all this in humbleness and forbearance without getting angry!
• The Lord, in His humbleness, exalts His children and gives them His own titles!
The Lord says to Moses His servant, "See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet." (Ex 7: 1) When Moses excused himself that he is not eloquent, slow of speech and slow of tongue, the Lord appointed for him Aaron his brother, and said to him, "You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do. So he shall be your spokesman to the people. And he shall be as a mouth for you and you shall be to him as God." (Ex 4: 15- 17) He meant that Moses dictates to him what he should say.
Again, when God wanted to appoint assistants to Moses, He said to him, "Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them … Then I will come down and talk with you there, I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them." (Num 11: 16, 17) And the Lord took of the Spirit that was upon Moses and put upon the elders, and they prophesied (Num 11: 25). He wanted the elders to know that they are mere followers of Moses receiving from the Spirit that was on him. 
The Lord did the same to Joseph the Righteous. He exalted him and made him a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all Pharaoh's house (Gen 5: 8).
• The Law, which is God's Law, He ascribed to Moses!
David the Prophet, before his death, said to Solomon his son, "Keep the charge of the Lord … keep His statutes … as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do." (1 Kgs 2: 3)
Again, the Scripture mentions "the Book of the Law of Moses" in (Neh 8: 1) and in (Da 9: 11).
The Lord Jesus Christ, speaking to the scribes and Pharisees, says, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives." (Mt 19: 8) The permission was from God, but He, in His humbleness, and to exalt His children, ascribed it to Moses!
   There is still much to be said about the humbleness of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, which we will present to you next week, God willing.