Sermons. We want to be distinguished among other people!

God created neither a nation nor a culture to disappear from the earth without a trace. Only madness pushed people to such an unthinkable way, loosing the opportunity to participate in history and, the most important thing, to take part in the Holy Heavens among the multitude of peoples that preserved their own features, and praise God, His Salvation.


Pavel  Zhelnovakov

Dear friends, we all living on this earth, from time to time, have some humiliations and insults that were endured a long time ago or, probably, have been still enduring quite acute. It is obvious that we feel uneasy at such moments.

Sometimes we have to hear or read that people live very well somewhere in some countries. They may experience special blessings having not even believed in God. Some questions start to creep in our hearts:” Lord, why doesn’t anything happen in our lives? Why do we, Your children, face any difficulties in our lives?”

This is not a simple question. Whole nations have great hardships. Whole cultures stop existing on this earth because something wrong has happened in their lives.

The Moody Institute produced the film “Forgotten Towns,” that tells about the nations that had glory in the past and were well-known and majestic because of their culture and achievements. Some time later something wrong happened in their lives; and they not only disappeared from history but they also have gone with a great shame. Half of them even became something negative for contemporary generations.

In order to investigate what happened to them and why they had such a sad destiny, I would like to attract yours and my attention to one of the famous text from the Bible. This is the story about when Moses was having a talk with God because the people had sinned. He was having difficulties at that time because God rebuked him for everything that had happened. There is Moses’ prayer and his request to God’s words:

“If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15-16).

And the Lord said to Moses:

“I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name” (Exodus 33-17).

Dear friends, I want to talk about the Presence of God in our practical life. Moses understood very well that all the treasures of the world were nothing in comparison with the personal relationship with God. They did not need the Promised Land if God was not with them. It would be better to stay and die in the desert. Moses understood that any achievement without God was a loss.

The Hebrews were still at Sinai; this was quite a threatening desert place at that time. The words of Moses’ can be explained: “You’d better leave us here. If you don’t go with us then all treasures of the world, that can be gained, will lead us to the tragedy or even to death.” Moses put all the treasures of the world on one hand and the Presence of God with him on the other. He chose the Presence of God. All treasurers of the world are nothing for Moses.

Moses understood that and that’s why he asked: “How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

Dear friends, I have looked at these words “me and your people will be distinguished from others” differently. The national consciousness has been waking up lately in our country. It has not passed Udmurtia. This is a positive process. Many people ask themselves:” What can I do to revive our nation, culture, religion and other traditions practically?”

People dream about something good. They want glory, to put their lives in order, revival of their families.

People want their nation to get a good place in history. But the people make the same mistakes that have already reared their ugly heads in the past. For what do we need to revive something that has not brought any good? If it is done then, may be, in another spirit and conditions of our hearts and minds?

We live in Udmurtia. In fact, we are tenants of the land that has faced many hardships during the centuries. The Udmurt people endured many religious, political and cultural persecutions. However, it was not this way all the time.

I would like to address all nationalities: Russian, Tatar, Udmurt, Bashkir. It is normal when we think about the development of our national traditions, language, culture:” God, we want to be distinguished from all the other people on the face of the earth”.

It is not pride. Pride deals with a selfish desire, that everything circulates around us and that we are placed on the pedestal. It doesn’t have to be this way. We have a wonderful way that leads our families and our nations, in which we are born, to growing and nurturing our own cultural values. We have a wonderful way that leads us to a wonderful triumph.

It is not the way of bringing to life the primitive paganism or strange sides of the culture. It is truly the way of wonderful revival of the people, family and person.

Moses asks: ”What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” I would like to ask you, dear ladies and gentlemen, the Tatars, the Russians, the Udmurts: Do you want the same for your nation and families?

God doesn’t eliminate the possession of any nationality. The Bible says that when John was in heaven, experiencing God’s revelation, he saw many peoples and tribes. All those people worshiped God in their own language, standing in front of the Lord. (Revelation 7:9-10).

God created neither a nation nor a culture to disappear from the earth without a trace. Only madness pushed people to such an unthinkable way, loosing the opportunity to participate in history and, the most important thing, to take part in the Holy Heavens among the multitude of peoples that preserved their own features, and praise God, His Salvation.

Looking at crowds of people, John understood that they were all from different cultures, languages and tribes. They did not loose their own individuality and it acquired a perfect value and beauty before God.

Moses prayed: ”Lord if you are with us, then I and your people will be distinguished from all the other peoples on the face of the earth “. Do we want this or not? And not just by words, but also by our deeds?

A lot has been said about the national awareness by the same people who have destroyed the culture and the language. They change their mind as quick as the chameleon changes its color. Their souls and tongue are rotten. They offer only empty phrases.

It would be better to listen to God’s truth. The only way that is possible to restore a person and a family, to revive the whole nation is when “His Presence will go with us”.

The Apostle Paul, in describing his inner world, understood this very well:

”What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3-8, 10-11, 14)

And he said this to his disciple and spiritual successor, Timothy, when he was finishing his travels:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2Timothy 4:7-8).

Dear friends, I deeply believe that the movement of the revival of the national awareness and cultural values of any nation, is from God. It is not the political movement. The politicians have never brought anything good and sensible to the world because politics is mostly a game.

If you want to dispute this with me, you will fail because history is not in politician’s hands but in God’s. If somebody started talking about the revival, it means that God wants it. But what ways do we need to seek to attain this revival? We know the Biblical way as written in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “ if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” This is God’s desire. God desires this. Please listen to Him.

He is hurt when some nations, families or persons leave the history without the glory. They leave, not only, without the glory but sometimes they are cursed for their cruelty, for their madness, and the moral corruption they bring to the surrounding nations.

We have a way, my dear friends. It applies not only to big nations, but to smaller nations as well. Moses said: ”…will distinguish among other people”. But the Hebrew nation was the small nation among the others at that time! Do you want, as the representative of this or that culture, your nation and your people to achieve the high attitude that God offers us, not the history and not these or those leaders who care or not care very much or who sells all the treasures of the nation to another side.

I want our conversation to be supported by evidence. Let us see if it is true and that this way will lead us to glory or, on the contrary, if you ignore this way, it will lead us to the infamous behavior.

Let us come back to the film, “Forgotten Towns” that I mentioned before. It is a good instructional movie that investigates the culture of nations, their religious values, and their peculiarities in the course of history. The film reveals how glorious the nations were in the past and the reason they were disgraced and left out of history. If the representatives of these nations were still alive, they would be, as a rule, degenerative and alcoholic people.

So where did these nations that had been so glorious, look for glory? They tried to create their glory the way they had imagined it. They built the majestic pyramids on the bones of the thousands of people who had died because of the exhausting labor. I doubt that the mummies of those people, that are displayed for the public, are national property. Nothing of the sort!

We have our own mummy on the Red Square, our Russian “property”, our shame…

The Bible says that a person, who is not buried in the earth, has “the burial of a donkey”. The dead person is displayed for public mockery or for crazy worshiping. That’s all human “glory”. This awful burial means that even the earth does not want to take these people. Sure our politicians can interpret this action the way they want but God called it “the burial of a donkey”. And we are more interested in God’s opinion.

We know many conquerors that were glorified by arranging their fetes on the hills with cut off human’s head! Famous Tamerlan. He is a national hero of Uzbekistan today. It is no wonder that the Uzbeks-quiet, hardworking and calm people- sink in crimes and drugs today! This is “the spirit of Tamerlan” that was set free, to which the people worship. It has become part of their lives. People have been trying to gain glory by themselves. It is a dreadful thing. Sooner or later, history will recite everything that their names are associated with and will form its own verdict.

If their deeds are not marked clearly here on earth, it is for sure there will be a word in the Eternity. We will bestow the sentence on them because it is written in the Bible: ”the saints will judge the world” and even “we will judge angels”. It is evident that we must walk in righteousness ourselves in order for us to be considered worthy for that.

People try to achieve the human glory with different ways instead of seeking God in their lives. All countries that had achieved the human glory came to their culminating point when they were called to submit to God and start seeking Him. They challenged God instead. After that, there was fast degradation. The towns began to be destroyed because the most distorted idea of honor and virtue, dissipation, vicious human sacrifice and murders were always on the high attitude of the history of those nations. These ideas and actions are always an abomination before God.

You could say there was not sacrifice everywhere. My dear, the question is: what do we mean when we say this word? When our party brought to sacrifice 70 million people for the light ephemeral future. What is it? This is a horrible religion’s murder. It exists, prospers and has its own representatives in the appropriate places.

Dear brothers and sisters, honorable listeners; How do people seek the glory? How do they long to leave a trace, a stamp of some sort in human history and certainly, in front of God?

A great number of people leave a disgusting stamp. The people, tribes, and languages leave a terrible stamp. The descendants even study the heads of the dead from the previous generation like any unique object. How come that in such a small head so much evil could have lurked or dwelled or if he was a person indeed?! Why did so much madness dwell in the minds of those people? The question remains open till the Eternity…

Moses was taught the greatest wisdom in those days-the Egyptian wisdom. Later he learned God’s wisdom. He had the chance to compare two wisdoms. When he had compared their qualities, he made the most important choice: “Lord, if You are with us, we will be distinguished from among the other people on the face of the earth”.

The politics, Constitution, developed economics, and stable financial situations don’t give the true glory and the glory doesn’t increase. The glory increases only when the people start to seek God in their lives and live according to His high principles. Only after that will there be a wonderful welfare of a different kind.

If you look at the history of the Hebrews, you will find the picture which is sometimes sublime and sometimes is very dramatic. The history of this people reveals to us a true national revival, the revival of families and individuals before God.

Which way can we go? Let us see what God tells about this in His Word. He said to Moses: “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” (Exodus 33:17).

After these words, there in the Bible will be something that will show that God gave glory to His people indeed.

“You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in his ways, that you will keep his decrees, commands and laws, and that you will obey him. And the Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands. He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.”(Deuteronomy 27:17-19).

Now it was promised not only to Moses, the people by themselves have heard the promise that they will become His own people.

Thus, God promises “…He will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made…” (Deut. 27:19).

Dear brother or sister, all who studied the history of the Hebrew people in the Bible or the ideas of the Hebrew rabbis, or just the history submitted by the Soviet sources, agree that the Hebrew nation is an unique nation. They have existed for one thousand years preserving their own culture, traditions, language and religious values. It is an unusual nation.

What do we see even in the short story that is told in the Bible? The legendary person of the East-the Queen of Sheba. She came to Israel to Solomon to ask of his wisdom. She traveled hundreds of kilometers. That was the time when all the cultural values, sublime religious beliefs, the particularities of the politics and the state system had been formed with the mysterious way just in the East.

Yet Jesus says that the Queen of the South came from nowhere to listen to the wisdom of Solomon and people listening to God’s wisdom from the mouth of Jesus have neglected it. Later Jesus says: “The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it.”(Matthew 12:42). She will witness against them because she has honored the least wisdom in the person of Solomon. (Than it was performed in the person of Jesus Christ.)

So when this woman visited Solomon and saw the palace he had built and how educated the servants were “she was overwhelmed” as the Bible says. To understand what she felt, imagine for one minute that somebody has given you a trip abroad as a gift, a wonderful car and a furnished apartment. You obviously will be delighted; you will be “overwhelmed”.

So was she. She had never seen anything like that anywhere. Why? Because Solomon honored God and so did his nation. It was a big influence on the other surrounding nations so much so that none of those nations were encouraged to go into a war against the little state Israel. The powerful nation with military respect had many more people but they didn’t go into the war against the Hebrews, just for one reason-God was with them!

When there was a conflict with Israel, the first question that the surrounding nations asked: In what relationship is Israel with their God now? They were not interested in the number of the soldiers in the army, the quality of the fighting, the chariots and military tanks because the Hebrews had never had a strong army.

The decision to go into the war depended on if Israel was in a right relationship with God at that moment. The reconnaissance learned to whom the people brought their sacrifice, to their Heavenly Father or to an idol, whom they honored in their prayers and whose commandments they observed.

If they found out that somewhere on any side of the town there was an idol, Vaal, Dagon and someone else and the hundreds of the Hebrews gathered together to worship him, it was their shamanism…Oh! That’s a wonderful moment for an attack: they sounded the trumpet to gather their soldiers together for that was a signal to go into the war against Israel! God will be against them because they accepted the vileness of idolatry in their lives.

The enemies came and enslaved the Israelites. Sometimes they were under the bondage for many years. Why? They neglected the simple word of God. God told: “…you are to keep all his commandments…and that you will be a people holy to the Lord your God.” God will be with them.

God is not pleased with a society where dwells the stink of the impudence, lust, spiritual dirt in the speech, in the thoughts or in the hearts.

There are some dramatic episodes in the history of the Hebrews that are told in the book of the prophet Ezekiel. God shows Ezekiel different unkind deeds and vileness that the Hebrews have allowed themselves to do. At that time God says to the prophet: “Look what they are doing! They have a way though they, probably, don’t understand this. Look what the house of Israel is doing in order that I will drive far from my sanctuary and forsake this nation.”

You know how dramatic some events in the history of this nation have been but that’s what happened before Jesus Christ was sacrificed on the Cross at Golgotha and is beyond understanding. Jesus, entering Jerusalem, stopped on the hill, looked at that rebellious town, cried about him and said: “O Jerusalem…” Let us put another name of the town, region instead of and you won’t make any mistake. Put Glazov, Mozhga, Votkinsk, Perm, Moscow, New York. For instance: “O Izhevsk you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.” (Matthew 23:37-38).

There is no wonder that just several days later, people, who had been tolerant to Christ before, became crazy. They cried “Crusify Him! Give us Barabbas! “in front of the palace of the Roman governor. This is the result of being left by God: “Look, your house is left desolate.” Friends, I know that many families tempt God. I know men betray and sell their own families. I know there are some Christian women who sell their own honor and virtue in front of the people who have lost their heads to the lust of this world. How long will it last?

“Unless You go with us”,-Moses said,- “then what else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” Put the word “my family”, “my village” instead of the word “people” and it will be in the bounds of God’s Word. But “if You are not with us then all the treasures of this world will lead us only to death.” Many people don’t want to understand that. They have other values and impacts. They laugh at the believers, saying: “You are foolish; you understand nothing.”

You know, the Apostle Paul said once that we were crazy for Christ’s sake but we were wise. We live only for you to be saved. It sounds crazy to some people.

My dear, there is not a simple picture before us. God says to His people: “they will be set in praise, fame and honor high above all nations.” Then the Hebrews honored God and they did experience it.

Kings came from surrounding lands and brought gifts to Israel. They supplied the Israelites with everything that was necessary to build the Israelite temple in a much faster time frame. When the Hebrew prophet was visiting some pagan state, noble people from the surrounding towns met him and asked: “Are you coming in peace?”

They understood if God was with that nation then there was not any question. And the economics, and the politics, and the culture and, the most important thing, the religion will be in the appropriate condition.

Dear Udmurts, Tatars, Russians, do we really want the revival of our nations? Today it is fashionable to take advantage of the national virtue and national property. Today unsuitable politicians penetrate the authority, taking advantage of the people’s honor. They beat themselves on the chest as if they are the most vehement protectors but most of them have a rotten soul.

Do we want the Udmurt people to be truly revived in the meaning as God wishes it? Dear friend, you can ask yourself and then pray like Moses. My dear brother or sister, if you are Udmurt, you can pray: “Lord, if you are with us then I and my people, that are also Your people because You created them, will be distinguished among other peoples.”

You, being Tatar or Russian or another nationality, can say to God: “If you are with us then I and my people will be distinguished among other peoples.” Then make a lot of effort in order for God to be pleased living in your heart, your family and for God to be pleased to see how you work, speak, think, pray or fast.

God has not changed. The Apostle Paul, enumerating great deeds and the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit, in Hebrews 11:40 tells “God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be perfect.”

God had planned something better for us. I don’t know to what extent the people should be taken in by the Presence of the Holy Spirit because the nation is not a faceless crowd; there are specific persons and specific families. But when God found several people who were obedient to Him, He blessed the whole town because of them. He blessed many of David’s successors because of him, though they did not live like David.

When God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and the other three towns in their neighborhood that had been living in dissipation, Abraham began to ask for those towns. “Will you really sweep away and not spare the place for the sake of the 50 righteous people in it?”-“No, I will not destroy it.”

Abraham decreased the number further and further and, finally, he finishes: “what if only ten can be found there?”

Let us compare five towns with 100,000 inhabitants in them and ten righteous people…God says: “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

I am talking about very serious things now. We discuss a lot about our previous history life. The Udmurt people tell about their former hardships and difficulties that they have endured as the national minority. So do the Tatar and the Bashkir and … Every nation has different kinds of difficulties. One doesn’t need to live in yesterday. They need to aspire for the practical righteousness and pray God: “God, there are more then ten righteous people among my nation. Won’t you bless us?” God said that He would not destroy the most corrupted towns for the sake of ten righteous people. Today there are whole nations for whom we can pray and love.

May be we truly don’t know what nationalities we are but we can be led by something which is very powerful and which is higher then nationality. I left the Ukraine and came here for some reason though I knew nothing about Udmurtia. What do we need to do in order that God will be with us? Put our lives in order so that there will God’s presence more and more in our lives and families. Thus we will then be able to experience many of God’s promises and that I and my people will receive the fame from You, Lord. We will receive the honor that will be impossible to stain with any repressions. We will receive our inner culture that none in the world can take away from us. We will receive the faith whose roots did not come from the earth but from the Heaven and any political repression will be powerless before it. It is impossible to humiliate and insult the people who have put their trust in God. Many people endured a lot of persecutions, insults, humiliation because the question with God had not been solved so as the Holy Spirit called.

We have a privilege to start praying for ourselves and pray more about our nations: “Lord, we desire, we ask You about it and we will do much more for You to be with us.”

Moses says to the people that if they keep God’s commandment, “The Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commandments. He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations.”(Deuteronomy 26:18-19).

Dear friends, the situation regarding the economics, politics and culture is not simple in Udmurtia. There are some attempts to revive paganism and occultism. Any madness comes here as a magnet draws. And we, as believers, can say “No” to the madness in such a difficult situation.

The more the darkness comes, the brighter the light can become. The light can come brightly from ten righteous people who have put their hearts before God and said: “Lord, I want to live for the fame of my nation. I want to live in order that the honor of Your Holy Name will be placed in our lives, our families and our culture.” Sure we can just drift and benefit from the national property and former offences and tragedies from time to time. It is unworthy. We were not created for that, my dear.

Moses, understanding what God wanted to hear from him, says: “Lord, if you are with us, then I and Your people will be distinguished among other peoples.” Is it worth agreeing with something else than to be distinguished by God? Is it worth accepting oppression and inferior damage? Is it worth saying about yourself and your family: “We will never have a good life?” Why do we need to say this?

There is no reason to condemn yourselves with wrong creeds because God did not create us for something humiliating. Our nations, families and we were never meant for spiritual and physical degeneration! This is a false creed.

You don’t need to give up spiritually. On the contrary, you need to honor God’s commandments, to lift our hands up in the prayer: “Lord, put my life in order. I want that the nation, in which I live, and I to receive your fame, receive true honor and property that nobody will dare to make them dirty anywhere.”

The Heaven’s property has its roots in Eternity. It is impossible to steal the Heavenly treasure in order that we can form it here, on the earth. It is in Heaven. They cannot humiliate or insult the property that is given to us from God.

It is the same when somebody who is on a lower floor tries to spit on the person who is on the 9th floor. It is wasting time. The person, living in God, is unreachable by the madness. The nations, living in God, are unreachable by the insanity. You said something to God today. God also said that you would be on high. May be we don’t know our nationality, may be our bloods are mixed, but at least tell about yourself and about your family, just as Joshua told about himself one day: “We too will serve the Lord.” It is important for every one of us because we have this simple important biblical way. There is one more important question. Is there a way and foundation on which, when we reach all these, won’t loose it?

Why did nations that were more powerful and richer than Israel lose their property? Why did they disappear from the history so disgracefully? And why could Israel not remain high? Why could many different political leaders not remain standing? Why did America, who calls herself a Christian nation, bomb the Christian nation, Yugoslavia? Why do Christian Catholics and the Christian protestants, crying out to the same God, fight with each other?

I don’t know how the soldiers asked for a blessing from God before bombing Yugoslavia! And how did those pray who were dying under the bombs?! Both nations call themselves Christians. Why didn’t they remain standing on God’s ways? Why? Why? Why? I have found only one answer in the Bible. It refers to families, nations and different political systems. It says about churches and cultures of the peoples.

“The kings of Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”(Luke 22:25-27).

My friends, there is only one way for a person or family or nation or political system to keep standing on God’s way for once and for ever. This is to change your attitude toward others who are surrounding you; become a servant.

Jesus says: “I am the Father of Eternity. I am the Creator of everything that is seen and unseen. I am the Lord of the world and I have come to serve.” It did not humiliate Jesus Christ. He knew the law of true greatness.

A great number of systems, nations, families and united churches did not keep their feet on the way of greatness and on the Biblical ways of honor and property because they started concentrating on their own interests and themselves at one moment. They stopped serving!

They stopped honoring our Lord Jesus Christ with all their hearts. And after that, there is the decline of any nation, language or tribe, any culture.

The culture comes to an end as soon as they refuse to serve and “serpent worship” — these are both poisonous shoots of domination — comes into the politics, culture and education. It will probably continue for a while as does a train with a delaying locomotive but no more. Such a culture is doomed; the business, the political system, the people, language, tribes are all doomed. We have a way that we cannot only hold to steadily but lie down in God’s glory forever. ”The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” The desire to be greater is normal. Go this way. God is strong enough to help all of us.

It is God’s suggestion to us. This is His challenge to us. He wants to see His children, nations, tribes, political systems in fame and honoring His Holy name. He wants to see regions, towns, villages in praise and fame. He desires to see the politics and economics changed and how the relationship between people changed. We need only one thing for that: “ If you are with us, then I and Your people will be distinguished among the other people on the face of the earth.” The history of Israel is a bright picture of it. It is evidently a challenge to us. We can have different attitudes toward this. You can say: “Well, this is one more idea.” You can probably laugh because God doesn’t take this right from us. But one will have to answer anyway. It is better to make the right choice.

God doesn’t want us to forget who we are in this world, what nation we represent and what language we speak in order to pray about God’s true glory. He can answer us. We have a way on which we can hold the given glory and God’s honor steadily. I would like to repeat that God doesn’t want us to forget who we are in this world, what nation we represent and what language we speak in order to pray about God’s true glory. He can answer us. We have a way in which we can hold the given glory and God’s honor steadily.