Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Christ in the Midst of the Jouneys of Israel

22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah [=bitter]. 24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, 26 and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.” 27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters. (Exodus 15:22-27)

There are a number of elements in this account of Israel's history that echo the life of Jesus. First, there are numbers that appear in Jesus' Life. The number three relates to the three persons in the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but also there were three days and three nights that surrounded the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The number twelve was the number of Apostles that Jesus gathered around Himself [which echoed the twelve patriarchs who were the foundation of the nation of Israel]. Seventy was the number of disciples that Jesus sent out two-by-two, and it was the number of Elders involved in the Translation of the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament.

Second the motif of trees relates to the life of Jesus. The bitter/sweet cross, upon which Jesus died, is also referred to as a tree in the New Testament. On His way to the cross, Jesus was first of all greeted by the waving and laying down of Palm branches, which of course came from Palm trees.

Thirdly, he name of Jesus' human mother was Mary. The etymology of the name Mary is similar to that of Marah, and therefore Mary means bitter.

Fourthly, Jesus' ministry was preceded by a time in the wilderness, where He was tempted of the Devil, yet without sin and yielding to the temptation.

Fifthly, much of Jesus' ministry was spent healing the sick and casting out demons from those who were possessed of devils.

Sixthly, Jesus is the Lawgiver. Obedience to His commandments is evidence of love for Him ["If you love Me," Jesus said, "You will keep My commandments."] Obedience to Him is also health and healing.

Seventhly, Jesus said that His Holy Spirit was like living water who was with His disciples, but one day would be in them, bubbling up as a well of water and flowing out of them as rivers of living waters, along side which grows the Tree of Life which each month grows fruit which is for the healing for the nations.

As we bring these seven elements together, and meditate upon their echoing of the life and person of the Lord Jesus Christ, our hearts are filled with awe and wonder at Who He really is, and what God has a accomplished in Him.

In Him, that is, in Jesus, dwells all the fullness of the Triune Godhead bodily. Because of His three days and three nights in the grave, and His glorious resurrection and conquering over Satan, sin and death, we are healed. The seventy who were sent out two-by-two witnessed the power of Jesus' name over demons and sickness. We, too, can have confidence in that name, which is above every name, so that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. We are commissioned to see the Word of God translated into every heart language of the world, so that all may hear the Gospel, and learn of the life, atoning death and conquering resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.

From the outside, the cross was a bitter instrument of extreme torture. Mary, the mother of Jesus, would have experienced immeasurable bitterness of soul as she witnessed the death of her son. On the other hand, it was because of that bitter cross that the power of Satan, sin, sickness, the flesh, the world (and all other bitter things) that we can experience the sweetness of salvation that only comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, how sweet the sound that save a wretch like me!

As we are tempted by sin and the devil, in wilderness times in our lives, we are encouraged to draw near to Him Who was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. He is our encouragement, and He is our promise of eventual triumph.

If we put our trust in the atoning work of Christ and His bitter/sweet cross, then we can ask the Father, and He will fill us with His Holy Spirit who has been given so that the works which Jesus did under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we can also do, and greater works shall we also do. Not that the works come from us. No, a thousand times NO. The works are the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in us; it is He, the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who does the work through us, and His manifestation is like Living waters, nourishing the Tree of Life, giving birth to the fruits of the Spirit which will bring healing to the nations of the world.

Oh, blessed meditation! Oh, wonderful Saviour! Oh, glorious Hope! Amen!

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