Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Looking at the Tree
In Exodus 14, the people of Israel had just been released from bondage to slavery in Egypt with a mighty deliverance by God. Yet their gratitude to God for His care and provision did not last long. It is easy for me to look at them and wonder how they could have been so blind. Yet these Old Testament saints' stories were included in the Scriptures for us, to be a warning for us, to not make the same mistake they did.
"For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ, Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so we would not crave evil things as they also craved." I Corinthians 10: 1-6
The people were bitter because they were in the desert. They failed to see God's daily provision for them: the daily manna and the shoes that did not wear out. Instead they complained about their lot in life. They wanted to return to slavery. I am not much different than they are. My life has had its own twists and turns, and sometimes the answers seem too long in coming. I look around me for human comfort in desperation, but deep down, I know that people cannot fill my void.
Only God can. Last night as I tried to drift off to sleep, I was troubled and like the Israelites, wept my own tears of bitterness. Only my cat knew I was crying upon my pillow. Instead of falling to sleep, the tears woke me up and I knew I needed to draw near somehow to Him once again. I began reading a book called The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross by A.W. Pink. Only in the first few pages my heart was drawn to see my situation with a redemptive review. I can be like Moses, I can look to the tree,and behold that the cross of Calvary was hurled once for all into the sin-filled bitter waters of life on this fallen planet. For every person on this earth suffers. Some suffer more than others but more suffering occurred during that period of Christ's crucifixion than all other human sufferings combined. We have a God who knows very well what it means to hurt. He has not left us without remedy, but has given us a provision to make even the hardest trials in life sweet by our knowing and walking with Him.
I can either believe that this world is spinning out of control or that a sovereign God who loves me has all things, including my life and all that happens to me, under His loving care and concern. It may not look so good outwardly, but neither did it look good when Jesus went to the cross, or when God darkened the planet and a great earthquake occurred. (Matthew 27:45-57) But sins were being atoned for in that darkest moment of human history and God used that black moment to bring about the greatest victory: raising Jesus Christ from the dead. Death, satan, all the powers of hell itself could not keep Him in that grave.
Moses did not know what to do when the people started to revolt, but at that moment, God showed him a tree. When I see things I don't like in my life, I can "see" in my mind God showing me a tree too. That tree is Christ's cross. It means the old me is gone forever, crucified with Christ, and I am now reconciled and in right relation with Him. It means knowing that God is sovereign, and is working even the hardest things in my life for an outcome that is ultimately sweet. All I need to do is to keep looking at the tree and trusting in my Savior.
"And we know with an absolute knowledge that for those who are loving God, all things are working together resulting in good, for those who are divinely summoned-ones according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28 Kenneth Wuest, An Expanded Translation)