Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Painting a picture

Did you know God likes to paint pictures? He does! I will show you a few.

When the nation of Israel had escaped from Pharaoh and Egypt, they spent 40 years wandering in the desert because of their disobedience. This was not wasted time, though. During that long journey, God started giving His laws to the people. Some laws make perfect sense as-is, such as "Thou shalt not kill." A few of those laws, however, seem odd when you first hear them.

Deuteronomy 22:9-11 NKJV - [9] "You shall not sow your vineyard with different kinds of seed, lest the yield of the seed which you have sown and the fruit of your vineyard be defiled. [10] "You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. [11] "You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, such as wool and linen mixed together.

Is it really that big of a deal if you mix different kinds of seeds together? Or if you attach an ox and donkey to a plow to plow your field? Or if you wear a shirt made of two different kinds of thread? Not at first glance. So why did God put those unusual restrictions on the nation of Israel? Because He was building a model.

All three of those verses tell a story, about not mixing together. God did not want the nation of Israel to pick up the idolatry and wicked ways of the other nations. And this same idea carried over through Jesus' ministry, and even beyond. Look at this verse:

2 Corinthians 6:14 NKJV - [14] Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

Do not be unequally yoked. Do not be tied to the world. Do not mix good with evil. When God told the people to not plow with an ox and a donkey, it wasn't to discriminate against oxen or donkeys. God was painting a picture.

Let's take a look at another picture. Let us return back to the time of Moses and the nation of Israel wandering in the desert.

Numbers 20:7-8 NKJV - [7] Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, [8] "Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals."

God is painting a picture of a rock, which when spoken to, will burst with water for a thirsty nation. Why not just lead them to a river? God was showing them many things in this picture; a rock, a spoken word, and water. What was that all a picture of?

1 Corinthians 10:4 NKJV - [4] and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.

God was painting a picture of His Son, Jesus! But this picture got messed up by Moses, and he paid a price for it. Let's look back at the Book of Numbers.

Numbers 20:9-12 NKJV - [9] So Moses took the rod from before the LORD as He commanded him. [10] And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, "Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?" [11] Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. [12] Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them."

God was trying to paint a picture of Jesus, the Rock, and the Rock was to be spoken to. Why? Take a look at the Book of Romans, chapter 10:

Romans 10:9-10 NKJV - [9] that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. [10] For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Confessing with the mouth. Speaking. This was the picture God was trying to paint. Moses wasn't into art, I guess. He didn't get it, and was honestly upset and tired of the people and their complaining. He smacked that rock with his stick, and kaboom, water blew out of that rock and the people drank. God in His mercy did indeed give the thirsty nation the water they so desperately needed, but He also held Moses accountable for wrecking the beautiful picture being painted. Moses did not get to enter the promised land, he just got to see it from a distance.

Let's look at one more picture of Jesus, again from almost the same time period when Moses and the children of Israel were wandering in the desert.

Numbers 21:5-8 NKJV - [5] And the people spoke against God and against Moses: "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread." [6] So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. [7] Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people. [8] Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live."

The people were complaining to Moses that they had no food or water, and they were rejecting the miracle food manna that God was providing them each morning. We get both a picture and a sculpture out of this. As an immediate judgement, God sends snakes their way. The people repent of their sin, and how did their salvation come? Through a serpent suspended on a pole. Moses made a sculpture of a snake, and the people got a picture of Jesus.

John 19:32-37 NKJV - [32] Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. [33] But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. [34] But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. [35] And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. [36] For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, "Not one of His bones shall be broken." [37] And again another Scripture says, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced."

That snake on a stick was a picture of Jesus on the cross, taking on the sins of the world. What creature tempted Eve in the garden of Eden? A snake. The people in Moses' day were saved from death by looking at the snake, and in the Gospel of John we see a fulfillment of the picture, as the people looked on their Messiah who was crucified for their sins.

So those are just a few pictures of Jesus. There are many more of Him throughout the Bible. Perhaps we will cover more of them in the future, but you can start right now buy picking up the Word of God and giving it a read for yourself.