October 26, 2012


Meekness is not weakness; it is God. Meekness and weakness, or weakness and God, should not be confused, though it has happened, particularly for righteousness’ sake.

Bold souls invoke their righteousness as reason enough against the weakness of meekness. Brothers Boanerges, fire and brimstone believers, urge sacred rage against Samaritans who dare to resist their Master (Mark 3:17; Luke 9:51-56). It is the righteousness of men who thoroughly misunderstand meekness.

Action based on fixed principle asserts itself against what the convicted see as the wrongness of meekness. Fervent young Joshua zealously speaks up for principle against the very God who inspires Eldad and Medad. Anointed by heaven, the two men have erupted in prophetic utterance inside the camp of Israel (Num. 11:10-17, 24-29), which, for Joshua, is clearly problematic. Had God not specifically instructed Moses to select 70 men for the Spirit’s anointing and to bring the ones so chosen out to the tabernacle? Eldad and Medad have not come to the meeting, a clear violation—for Joshua, who has learned meticulous obedience from Moses.1 The men are to be silenced, for God’s Word had required them to attend the meeting (Num. 11:16). Joshua’s master, Moses the meek, sees things differently. Eldad and Medad neither appointed nor anointed themselves. For Moses all God’s children may be prophets (verse 29).

2012 1530 page6Confidence in one’s spiritual calling has paraded as the legitimate opponent of meekness. Witness the Miriam argument: “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” (Num. 12:2, NASB).2 This professed dedication to godly vocation is the immediate context of one of Scripture’s most controverted statements on meekness: “Now the man Moses was very humble [“meek,” KJV], more than any man who was on the face of the earth” (verse 3, NASB). It is authorship of the verse, not its truth, that is controverted, since meekness may not so declare itself—though that argument’s inconsistency is exposed by accepting Jesus’ declaration (Matt. 11:28-30) while rejecting Moses’ own.

Inconsistency aside, it is the sense of meekness as weakness that most exercises the person of principle. How will God’s Word be respected or His will be done, how is principle served, if men are allowed to prophesy without following instructions, and Miriams and Korahs are free to question established order and appointed leadership? When will Moses rise in wrath? 

Do we prefer our indignation because we have forgotten what happens when he does (Num. 20:1-12)? Or that God may prefer doing it Himself (Num. 12:1-15)? Or that He has promised a judgment of salvation for all the meek (Ps. 76:8-10)? Besides, what if the meek is crucified? Strength knows that meekness is both weakness and stupidity. And power and wisdom do not suffer fools gladly. They put them in their place. On a cross. Stripped naked, for gawking, and gloating, and mockery.

But is God’s will undone because the meek is crucified? How will all the bombast of the strong be brought down, and the terror of the intimidated masses be swallowed up, and the lost weak and strong of all humanity’s ages be drawn to God, if the Meek Man be not lifted up, spiked naked to the cross, to draw all our fretful souls to Him, and give us rest? Meekness is not weakness; it is God. 

1 “Thus Moses did; according to all that the Lord had commanded him, so he did” (Ex. 40:16, NKJV). Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Some variation of that refrain of precise obedience occurs eight times through the chapter.
2 Scripture quotations credited to NASB are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Lael Caesar is an associate editor of the Adventist Review. This article was published October 25, 2012.