We resume on the subject of feeling unappreciated and undervalued illustrated by a contrast between the Revolutionary War’s General Benedict Arnold and Moses, the man who liberated the Israelites out of Egypt.
Arnold’s military feats electrified the colonies, but his enemies began to make life miserable for him.
Having married a beautiful Tory socialite belle twenty years his junior, Arnold took steps to resign from public life again. But when the charges (mentioned in the first article) were needlessly mailed to all state legislatures, the Congress and General Washington, Arnold was not willing to withdraw without vindication. He delayed his retirement.
Betrayal His permanently painful leg, the antagonism of those who should have been grateful, the galling charges and the feeling of being unappreciated brought Arnold to the brink. Through secret negotiations with British leader, John Andre, Arnold made plans to betray the infant nation and arrange the capture of West Point, a strategic Colonial fort. A last-minute arrangement with the British almost resulted in the capture of General Washington.
The dross in this proud, finely-tuned thoroughbred rose to the surface. His sinful nature grabbed the reins of his mind. The challenge for Benedict Arnold was to see how his own sin had added to his woes and to remain true to his cause even when his sacrifice, effort and brilliance were unrecognized and unappreciated. Humanly speaking, we can understand his anger (and even sympathize with it). Yet we must condemn his failure to seek God and his betrayal of the Colonial cause.1
Someone reading these articles is about to do something foolish like Benedict Arnold did:
- Work – Steal money from a company because that company steals a few minutes each day from their workers.
- Marriage – Walk out on your mate instead of growing in maturity and obedience.
- Church – Quit the choir because you were never asked to sing a solo. Leave a church because things were not done your way.
- Neighborhood – Pull your child out of soccer because he didn’t get to play enough (sometime one may have to do something socially unacceptable, but it should be extreme rare).
- Integrity – Lose something of great value to get short-term human approval.
Benedict Arnold defected to the British, resulting in coming into the midst of the British high command; generals he had embarrassed many times on the battlefield. Because he had previously been the enemy, they were cool toward him, re-enforcing his feelings of being unappreciated and undervalued and isolated. Arnold became a man without a country. Alone. Despised. Named in the same sentence as Judas Iscariot.
Moses Turning from Benedict Arnold who was overly impressed with himself, let’s now consider a man who was in awe of the Living God. The Israelite Leader Moses engineered the Hebrew exodus out of Egypt in the 15th century B.C. The challenge of leading two million complaining Hebrew slaves through the desert tested this man to his roots, but drew from him leadership qualities still studied and admired today. He has had few peers through history.
While no Bible text records that Moses felt unappreciated, all the raw material was present in his life to generate that attitude. Moses experienced a lot criticism and accusations from his own people. Even though the Israelites had seen spectacular miracles, such displays of God’s presence came infrequently – people got hungry and thirsty between “shows.”
Consider the following attitudes that Senior Pastor / CEO Moses had to absorb and pray down:
- As Pharaoh’s chariots descended upon the fleeing Israelites, they accused Moses: “…was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?” Exodus 14:11
- “ . . . so the people grumbled against Moses… you have brought us out into this desert to starve us to death.” Exodus 15:24; 16:2,3
- “Then Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me!’” Exodus 17:42
It came to a head in circumstances I call The Greatest Challenge a Human Ego Ever Faced.3 It is recorded for our study and careful consideration in Exodus 32:10. Moses had disappeared into the clouds, thunder and lightning high up on Mt. Sinai. After he had been gone more than one month — assuming he had fallen victim to God’s wrath4 — the Israelites searched for new leadership. Hence, a golden calf was made by some of the Israelites. God sent Moses down Mt. Sinai to deal with it. “‘I have seen these people’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a greater nation.’” [Emphasis KGK].
The fact that God would tell Moses to leave Him alone was actually God wanting Moses to not leave Him alone. The Almighty seemed to be asking permission from a fallen, sinful human being. Was God putting up for debate the destruction of Israel, and giving Moses the deciding vote? Then He offered to have Moses be the progenitor of a better nation! What an appeal to a human ego!
- Having recently finished reading Nathaniel Philbrick’s Valiant Ambition: George Washington and Benedict Arnold, I can affirm that nothing was said about Mr. Arnold’s spiritual interests or appetite. There is no indication Mr. Arnold believed in God. Instead, we see the opposite. Still he was accountable to God, so my observation seems legitimate.
- See also Numbers 12:1; 16:3, 13, 41; 17:5; 20:2-5 and 21:4, 5
- The greatest challenge a human being ever faced was the decision of Jesus Christ to die for our sins. That is true about every superlative, every situation, every everything. The most, the worst, the longest, the most difficult, most glorious – all of those designations belong to Jesus Christ. So when I write The Greatest Challenge a Human Ego Ever Faced it is a given that I mean other than that which our Lord Jesus Christ faced. See also Numbers 14:12 and Deut. 9:14.
- Exodus 24:17 & 18; 32:1