Sunday, 29 December 2013

Winsome persuasion

‘Come with us, and we will do good to you, for the Lord has promised good to Israel’ (Num. 10:29-32). This invitation to Hobab by Moses is well known and has often been used in preaching the gospel. It is likely that Hobab already was a believer in God, being a son of Jethro. Although he initially refused to go with Moses, he went later (Judges 1:16; 4:11).

How did Moses go about persuading Hobab to join them? In Moses’ method, there are four lessons for us regarding how to witness to others.

First, Moses, as he talks to Hobab, speaks as one who has experienced the redeeming power of God that was revealed when Israel were delivered out of Egypt. Hobab had not experienced that for himself, but Moses assures him that if he aligns himself with the people of God then he and his family will have their full share in the blessings of the promised land. In this, Moses is a picture of a believer urging another person to make the same choice as he himself as made.

Second, notice also that Moses is prepared to repeat the invitation. He did not think that telling Hobab once was sufficient. Not only did he repeat the invitation, but the second was more warm than the first. The second contains an element of pleading. Moses realised that Hobab would be the loser if he went home instead of continuing with the Israelites. Experience tells us that it is harder to resist an affectionate offer than a clinical one.

Third, Moses requested that Hobab would use his talents for the benefit of the people of God. He pointed out to Hobab that he could be useful in helping the Israelites cross the desert. True, they had the pillar of cloud and fire to guide and protect them, but Hobab would be useful in warning them of dangers and of providing them with shelter. Similarly, we can ask an individual to use his talents in the service of God rather than for promoting something else.

Fourth, Moses reminded Hobab that the Lord had made many promises of good to Israel. These promises are many: there was the promise of forgiveness of their sins, of divine protection on the journey, of God’s presence with them, of their prayers being answered. In addition, he assured Hobab that all the people would help him and share with him. And we can witness to the many blessings and benefits connected to the Christian life.

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