Commissioning

Numbers 27:19: Make him stand before Eleazar the priest and all the congregation, and you shall commission him in their sight.

girl-162474_640Commissioning is the final stage before an assignment is embarked on. It is passing up the baton to a new generation. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he continued the commissioning process for his apostles and disciples which he started before he died. He gave them instruction, telling them they will be his witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1). He wanted them to take charge from him after he was gone.

He had spent three and half years training them. He started something that was not supposed to end if he went away- the salvation of the world.  Though he was stepping off the scene, his plans for the people earth was still ongoing. He was going off the scene, but he will still be here, through his physical representatives which is the church. He commissioned us for that purpose.

Jesus said that we should go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Though he did not walk and work while on earth beyond Israel, he has his eyes on the end of the earth. That is what God had promised him. In the book of psalms God told Jesus, ask of me the earth for your possession, the ends of the earth for your inheritance (Psalm 2). Therefore, the church is commissioned to be the foot soldiers of Jesus.

Describing his military-like commissioning, Paul told Timothy he needed to show allegiance to his enlister, the one who commissioned him to be a soldier (2Timothy 2:3-4). He said he needed to desist from being entangled in civilian pursuit so as to please the one who called him to be a soldier. Remember that it was Paul who brought Timothy up in the ministry, but he does not presume to describe himself as the one who enlisted Timothy.

He drew the allegiance of Timothy not to himself but to Jesus. Every eyes should be on Jesus, he is the perfect one. He said if I be lifted I will draw all men to me (John 12:32), and that includes for the purpose of commissioning to become his soldier.

Those who are commissioned pay attention to the mission. And commissioning normally takes place after a season of training. Elisha was trained under Elijah, Joshua was trained by Moses. Those who do not have much in training are bound to commit a lot of unnecessary errors. Saul did not have much of training. He was an accidental king, and at the end, the pressure of being king revealed the personality fault-lines in him.

But when David was anointed to be king. He went through a number of years of not so palatable training. He was commissioned to be king after the death of Saul.

His commissioning to be king of Israel was in two phases (first as king over Judah and second as king over Israel). He was going to stand on his high places as appointed by God (Habakkuk 2:1-4) but it was going to be a climb and not a jump, and he had to depend on God all the way.

A commission is an assignment and it is specific. It gives a strong sense of purpose. When Paul was saved, he was immediately given a commission which was actualised in phases and which culminated in the final commissioning some years later in Antioch (Acts 13:1-4).

Before then when he was running around persecuting the Christians, he thought he was serving God. He thought he was doing the right thing. But when he met Jesus he entered into real purpose, and at the end of his life he said: I have finished my course (2Timothy 4:7).

This means there was nothing left for him to accomplish in his commission that was left undone. He was bold to make that declaration because his commission was specific and helped by the Holy Spirit and his own doggedness, he was able to fulfil it.

Even Jesus could not fulfil his commission without the Holy Spirit. When he became 30 years of age and his public ministry was about to begin, he said in the synagogue: the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor (Luke 4:17-21). He did not presume to do the will of God except in the power of his Spirit, leaving an example for us to follow in his steps (1Peter 2:21).

He told the disciple: I send you as sheep among wolves so you need to be as wise as serpent and gentle as dove, while sending them to the villages where he himself would still go. He not only gave them a commission but gave them the strategy. Paul said I become all things to all men so that I may win some. That was his strategy. He was an emissary of the king sent with divine resources. He wrote to the Roman church, I desire to see you so that I may impart to you spiritual gifts (Romans 1:11).

Nehemiah had the commission of building the wall of Jerusalem. He felt that was the step God wanted him to take. And because of that commission he made sacrifices.

A commission that does not take you from your comfort zone may not be from God. Prior to taking on the task of building up the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah was a palace executive, far away from Jerusalem. He was a trusted ally of the king of that vast kingdom.

He had a good bed to sleep on at night and regular meals. He was secure and might think he should not leave that for the uncertainty of building the long burnt down wall of Jerusalem. But he embraced the commission with his two hands, committing himself to it. Before then he had prayed, fasted and wept because he was burdened by the situation. Therefore what you are burdened with is an indication of your commission.

When God gave Moses his commission of taking the children of Israel out of the house of bondage, it was not something he was eager to do. Though he was burdened for their deliverance, when he was being commissioned, he had settled into a nice little domestic life with two kids and an occupation of herding the sheep of his father-in-law (Exodus 2-3). He tried to do something about setting them free forty years before then but it backfired. So he lost interest. But God gave him the commission anyway. In the same vein, your commission is what God choses for you.

The commission he had from God occupied the next forty years of his life on a full time basis. He had to change his location, and start out on a challenging journey, depending on God every step of the way. It was challenging. But he was called faithful in carrying out the mind of God (Hebrews 3:5).

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