After the Exodus and the worship celebration(s), they headed for the desert, ran out of water and ended up at a toxic well.
The Hebrews fussed at Moses.
Moses passed the buck to God.
He told Moses to throw a particular stick into the water, and it healed the water.
The people drank and were content.
End of story.
In actuality, that simplistic action was a prophetic picture of the crucifixion a millennium later.
There is a fascinating play on words regarding the crucifixion. Christ made it a point to tell the disciples that He would not die on the ground. No stoning in Jerusalem. No being pushed off a cliff in Nazareth. No being drowned in the Sea of Galilee. He had to be “lifted up.” Since the devil was the Prince of the Power of the Air, Jesus was going into His turf, to win this battle in the air, not on the ground or water.
The disciples understood the surface meaning of being crucified, but they didn’t really seem to understand the spiritual dynamic.
But the play on words comes with the phrase “lifted up.”
The Greek word is most commonly used for social elevation, not physically being lifted up in the air. In other words, it was used for a promotion at work or a coronation in the government sector. It refers to an increase in honor and power through attaining a new position. Strong’s Concordance says this:
2a) to raise to the very summit of opulence and prosperity
2b) to exalt, to raise to dignity, honour and happiness
So Jesus was lifted up so He could take down the devil on his own turf. Awesome defiance.
But He was also exalted through the act of dying for us all. On the surface, it was a place of utmost degradation. Both Jesus and heaven saw it differently. “. . . who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 NIV
While the world thought He was ending with a whimper, He was actually in the process of the ultimate promotion in all of human history.
This was the picture at Marah. The people saw bitter water with the threat of death for themselves and their animals since they could not drink it. God knew He was giving them a picture of redemption that would follow them through their variegated journey.
This was vital. They only knew war so far. Their God whupped the Egyptian gods. This lesson they saw over and over again. Power. Violence. Destruction. Victory. Go God.
But you can only destroy outsiders! What do you do with the parts of your own self, or your history or your community that are less than savory?
For that you need redemption.
And this simple prophetic act, broadly not understood, was God’s first move to introduce them to a different facet of His nature.
Victory is much more easily celebrated than redemption. The Exodus called forth poetry and parties on a large scale. This picture of redemption was only acknowledged with a small grateful nod as they filled their bellies and their water pots.
We must do better in our worship.
For us, redemption is behind us and victory ahead. We celebrate the cross and our salvation as past facts, while we look forward to cosmic victories through eyes of faith.
Join me in a rather personal walk through my life, as I comment on the range of areas where redemption has been part of my journey.
Copyright January 2016 by Arthur Burk
From the Hub