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F a i t h   M a t t e r s  with Dr. Ken Lovelace

The Tree
Exodus 15:22-27


 

The contents of Exodus were so dramatic they were mentioned more than 140 times in the rest of the Old Testament. When Christ came to earth, He repeatedly claimed that the writings of Moses were full of references to Him. In the Book of Acts, more than a third of Stephen's speech, leading to his martyrdom, was devoted to events in the Book of Exodus. The Book of Hebrews shows us how the signs and symbols of Exodus pointed toward Jesus Christ. We also know from church history that there are over 450 references to the Book of Exodus in the extant writings of the early Church Fathers of the first two centuries following the original apostles. All of history has been mesmerized by the dramatic nature of this book-the birth of Moses, the bondage of the Hebrews, the plagues that fell on Egypt, the slaying of the Passover lamb, the deliverance from Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the giving of the Ten Commandments, and the building of the Tabernacle.

 

In many of the Exodus events and miracles, we can see Jesus Christ. One commentator wrote: "With regard to God's dealings with Israel between Egypt and Canaan, every miracle He performed on their behalf provided a fresh type of Christ." Today's passage gives us a poignant example of that.

 

1. The Test. In the first part of Exodus 15, the people were rejoicing over their miraculous crossing through the Red Sea. In the last part of the chapter they were again trapped, this time in a waterless desert. Why would God deliver them through parted waters only to allow them to suffer from lack of water in the desert?

 

Can you imagine hundreds of thousands of people wandering in the desert for three days with absolutely no water for their animals, their children, or themselves? But it was even worse than that.

 

Just when they thought they were goners, someone near the front shouted, "Water ahead!" With an enfeebled burst of energy, the hoards of Israel bolted toward the lake, tongues hanging out, cups ready, children eager to lap up the cool, life-sustaining liquid.

 

Imagine their disappointment when the first ones there spewed the water out, faces filled with disgust. The water was brackish, salty, and undrinkable. The disappointment was staggering.

 

Why did God map out such a route? Why would He allow such a terrible disappointment? The answer is hidden away in a little phrase in the last part of verse 25. Notice these four words: There He tested them.

 

The Bible says that God sometimes tests us. He puts us in difficult or perplexing situations to see if we've learned anything from past experiences. He wants to develop and mature us to see what we're made of spiritually, and to develop our faith (1 Chron. 29:17; Prov. 17:3; Ezek. 21:13).

 

2. The Tree. The people failed the test. Instead of trusting God, they grumbled against the Lord. But when Moses cried out to the Lord, "the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet" (verse 25). Why a tree?

 

As missionary Amy Carmichael said, "We all know what the Tree means. Nothing less than the powers of Calvary can turn our bitter waters into sweet waters."

 

The tree in Exodus 15 was a prophecy, a type or symbol of the Cross of Calvary that turns the waters of our lives from bitter to blessed. Acts 5:30 says that Jesus was killed by being hanged on a tree. Galatians 3:13, referring to Christ, says, "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."

 

First Peter 2:24 says, "(He) Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness."

 

The Cross of Christ turns our bitterest moments into blessings. It is the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, like a tree thrown into a toxic pool, that transforms the waters of our lives into sweet, optimistic blessings.

 

The Bible says that God gives us beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isa. 61:3).

 

 

Conclusion

 

Perhaps today you need the Cross of Christ in your life. You need the power of the death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus to transform your bitter ponds. It is the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ that transforms, that redeems, that turns our bitter lives into blessed ones.

 

 

O, can it be, upon a tree,
The Savior died for me?
My soul is thrilled, my heart is filled,
To think He died for me!

-John Newton



 



Copyright 2011. Faith Matters by Dr. Ken Lovelace. All rights reserved.


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