2017 is off to an extremely sober start here in Cameroon. Our friend and brother in Christ, Nestor, the only elder-qualified Baka man in our area, lost his wife this morning. She, still a very young woman, has battled sickness off and on, but I do not think anyone was expecting her death. We went to her funeral this evening and listened to the wailing cries of her lost family members. We reminded Nestor of the fact that, as she is in Christ, she is already doing much better than we are. But we reminded him with tears in our eyes, mourning not for her, but for us.
Our pastor, yesterday, preached from the only psalm attributed to Moses: Psalm 90. This has been an important psalm in my own life that was part of what has led me to believe that God wants us to be sober-minded. Moses certainly spent much of his life in dark conditions, leading a people for forty years that were condemned to slowly die in the wilderness. And he too, died in the desert overlooking the Promised Land, but not a part of it.
In Psalm 90, after talking about the brevity of life, Moses prays, “So, teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom” (v12). It seems to me that, rather than avoiding thoughts of death, Moses is actually calling us to dwell upon sober realities and to let them change the way the we live.
Sobriety is Characteristic of A Christian
As Christians we have been given much more revelation than Moses. We are not blind, we live in the light. But what we find in the light is that just as Moses was living in a generation of the condemned, we live in the midst of a dying race. Christ has conquered death and for those of us who believe the sting of death has been removed. However, we still die. We still feel the effects of the Fall. We still have an enemy that goes about like a roaring lion. For Christians, just like for Moses, life is hard, life is short, and we must be sober. Of course, in order to be sober, we must as the question…
What does it mean to be sober?
Sobriety is NOT Drunkenness BUT Hard Work
Sobriety is NOT Fear BUT Confidence
“Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”
Moses uses a lot of imperatives there: “Satisfy us”, “Make us Glad”, “Let your work be shown”, “let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us.” Those are not commands, they are requests; bold and confident requests. Moses knew that he was weak, like grass that is here one moment and then gone. But he was not asking these things of a weak God. To the God who has been “our dwelling place in all generations” he confidently asks for joy, favor, and fruit of his labor. Moses was not facing death in fear, but in confidence. And so much less do we fear death who have been explicitly taught of the resurrection and the defeat of death by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Numbering our days means living a life of sobriety. And biblical sobriety works hard in great confidence because of God’s promises.
Sobriety Means Seeking a Life of Weight