Archive for March, 2014

Drinking From A Rock

Thirst is a great motivator. Inherently, we know that to go without water will lead to death. Indeed, without water life cannot be sustained. There is no life where there is no water. The Israelites were in a thirsty predicament in the wilderness. There was no earthly way to find any water, and grumbling and complaining soon set it. These people were ready to kill if that is what it took to get a drink of life giving water. The events are documented for us in Exodus 17.

Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, “Give us water, that we may drink.” So Moses said to them, “Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the Lord ?” And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (Exodus 17:1-3 NKJV)

Things are not looking good for Moses. In fact, without divine intervention, he was in for a painful death. But God intervenes on behalf of Moses and the people.

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. (Exodus 17:5, 6)

Moses did as God commanded, and the people’s thirst was miraculously quenched. It’s a nice story, but what does it mean for us? Well let’s look at three places where this incident was a shadow of the ministry of Jesus; two in the Gospels and one in the letters of Paul. In the Sermon in the Mount in Matthew chapter 5, Jesus said,

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

He makes a promise that those who are seeking divine nourishment will one day have their hunger and thirst quenched. Jesus alludes to this again in John 4 when speaking about water to the Samaritan woman at the well.

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13, 14)

So where is this water going to come from that Jesus is promising to not only provide, but to fill us up with? Paul talks about the Exodus account we read earlier and ties it together for us.

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. (I Corinthians 10:1-4)

Jesus himself was the Rock from which would flow waters that would give eternal life to all who drank of it. When He was on the cross of Calvary, Jesus our Rock was struck by a Roman spear, and out flowed blood and water. As He was pierced for our transgressions (Isaiah 53) eternal life was made available to all. The veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom and eternal life became available to all who would receive it.

Jesus also foretold at the great feast that the river of water would not stop there. It would be an unending stream that would flow out as the Spirit to fill and satiate those who come unto Christ.

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)

So if you are spiritually hungry or thirsty, come unto the Rock who was stricken for you and receive this living water!

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Not A Berean

Having literally spent my entire life in church, I cannot count the number of times I have heard it said that we are admonished, or even commanded, to be Bereans. But are we? Where is that found? It may seem like a minor point, but nowhere in the New Testament is there a command to be Bereans. And if we are going to claim to be guided by the Bible, then when we use Bible terms we need to use them with accuracy.

The Bereans are mentioned by Luke in the 17th chapter of Acts, and here is what is said about the visit by Paul and Silas to Berea:

Acts 17:10-12 (NET)
“The brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea a at once, during the night. When they arrived, they went to the Jewish synagogue. These Jews a were more open- minded than those in Thessalonica, for they eagerly received e the message, examining the scriptures carefully every day to see if these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, along with quite a few a prominent Greek women and men.”

So what is said about this relatively successful encounter was that they were open-minded, and looked into what Paul was saying to give it a fair hearing and see if this was true or not. They were intellectually honest; that’s all. In fact, while many did believe, some did not. But at least they were open-minded enough to hear him out and research things before jumping to any conclusions. If you are like that, then you can see here that such an approach can be profitable.

Thessalonica is mentioned in the preceding verses as a contrast to those in Berea. What made the Bereans more open-minded, or noble? Well let’s see from chapter 16.

Acts 17:1-9 (NET)
“After they traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. Paul went to the Jews in the synagogue, as he customarily did, and on three Sabbath days he addressed them from the scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, saying, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large group of God- fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. But the Jews became jealous, and gathering together some worthless men from the rabble in the marketplace, they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. They attacked Jasons house, trying to find Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly. When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, screaming, “These people who have stirred up trouble throughout the world have come here too, and a Jason has welcomed them as guests! They are all acting against Caesars decrees, saying there is another king named Jesus!” They caused confusion among a the crowd and the city officials who heard these things. After the city officials had received bail from Jason and the others, they released them.”

So the difference was that the Bereans didn’t form a mob, riot, and want some body to die because of the message about Jesus Christ. Want to be a Berean? Then when someone preaches something you are unsure of or unfamiliar with, research it instead of forming a riotous mob and trying to kill someone.

Well if we are not commanded to be Bereans, then should we just believe everything a preacher says to us? No, but there are other verses that talk about that. There is no need to insert a command where there isn’t one in the text, for to do so makes us among those who add to the Word. And technically, you can be a Berean and reject the correct message, like some of them did in Acts 17.

So what should we do if we hear preaching on a subject?

1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NKJV)
“Test all things; hold fast what is good.”

Not everyone is going to get it 100% right every time. That doesn’t make them a false prophet; it makes them human and fallible. So test all things, whether it is teaching, a new practice, and see how it lines up with scripture. Whatever passes the test, keep. Whatever doesn’t, toss out. And tell your fellow believers that we are commanded to test all things. Just don’t tell them we are commanded to be Bereans when no commandment is there. We must handle the Word of God accurately if we are to show ourselves to be rightly dividing the Word.

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Crushed For Us

This as no accident. It was not a spur of the moment decision. Jesus didn’t just use it because it just happened to be available. He chose to use the cup of wine for a deliberate purpose. Was is just because grape juice looks like blood and would be a good physical reminder for us? Maybe, but I believe it was fulfillment of specific Old Covenant typology. Let me tell you what I mean.

Wine, or the fruit of the vine, was used in the Old Testament as a symbol of the wrath of God. I quickly want to build a foundation here. Here is how God described it in Isaiah 63:1-6 (NKJV)

1 Who is this who comes from Edom,
With dyed garments from Bozrah,
This One who is glorious in His apparel,
Traveling in the greatness of His strength? —
“I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
2 Why is Your apparel red,
And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?
3 “I have trodden the winepress alone,
And from the peoples no one was with Me.
For I have trodden them in My anger,
And trampled them in My fury;
Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments,
And I have stained all My robes.
4 For the day of vengeance is in My heart,
And the year of My redeemed has come.
5 I looked, but there was no one to help,
And I wondered
That there was no one to uphold;
Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me;
And My own fury, it sustained Me.
6 I have trodden down the peoples in My anger,
Made them drunk in My fury,
And brought down their strength to the earth.”

In Joel the wine press is once again used to demonstrate wrath and judgment.

Joel 3:13-14 (NKJV)
Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.
Come, go down;
For the winepress is full,
The vats overflow—
For their wickedness is great.”
14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.

Moving ahead to the Book of Revelation, the wine press is again used to illustrate wrath and judgment.

Revelation 14:17-20 (NKJV)
17 Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
18 And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” 19 So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.

We now need to reflect on what a wine press is designed to do. Put very simply, a wine press exists to crush grapes, applying enough sustained pressure to extract the juice. Nothing else will work as well. But what does this have to do with Jesus and the Lord’s Supper? Glad you asked. Talking Jesus, the suffering servant, Isaiah recorded this in chapter 53:10

Isaiah 53:10 (ESV)
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

Jesus, while praying in the garden, already knew that He was going to suffer the just wrath of God for our sins. He was to be a propitiation for our sins by taking the penalty that those sins deserve. The trauma of this weighed so heavily on him that tiny capillaries were bursting and his sweat was mixing with blood. This was no quiet contemplative prayer. Jesus was calling out with every fiber of His being, “Father, if there is any other way, please take this cup from me!” But there was no other way. The demands of justice had to be met or we all would be eternally lost. So Jesus says, “not my will, but thine be done” and bears our sin in his body as he goes through the wine press of the wrath of God in our place because it was His Father’s will to crush Him.
So when we partake of the juice, a product of crushing, let’s remember that because it pleased the Father to crush his Son, the demands of justice are met, and we are no longer destined for wrath, but for salvation in Christ our Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5:9 (ESV)
For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

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