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The Outpouring and Overflow of Grace

June 11 2017
June 11 2017

I love the book of Exodus, and one reason why is the way it captures the reality that just like Israel, the Christian life is lived in the wilderness, where we wander this world as “aliens & strangers” waiting for our true home. So if Israel’s story is our story, we learn at least two things from their time in the wilderness. First, Israel’s time in the wilderness is hard, and second, because the wilderness is so hard, Israel’s greatest struggle while they are in the wilderness is believing that God’s presence is with them every step of the way.

If we are honest, that is one of our greatest struggles as well. When things don’t go our way – don’t we question God’s presence?  When families are torn apart because of divorce, when tragedy strikes or illness hits don’t we cry out – “God where are you? Do you even care what I’m going through?” We conclude that either God isn’t willing to help or He lacks the power to help! Either way when life in the wilderness gets hard, we thirst to know whether God is really with us or not.

We are no different than Israel. In Exodus 17 God leads Israel to a region of the wilderness where there is no water. And the people didn’t just complain (like they had been doing), they actually put God on trial and tested the Lord by saying – “Is the Lord among us or not?” (v.7). Without water Israel concluded that God had broken His promise to deliver them and left them in the wilderness to die. But they take it farther – they actually convict God and find Him guilty of covenant unfaithfulness and as a result were ready to stone Moses. Knowing that his life was in danger Moses cries out to the Lord (v.4) – “What shall I do with this people? They are about to stone me.”

What happens next is one of the most dramatic scenes in Exodus. Moses cries out to the Lord and the scene drastically changes as God says (v.5) -  “Moses - Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.”

Israel is judging God and Moses by putting them on trial, but now in v.5, Moses is acting as judge and now it looks like Israel is on trial! The staff that God tells Moses to take is none other than the staff that Moses used to strike Egypt with God’s judgment, and the elders with him will serve as witnesses and the prosecution. Someone is going to be judged, but who?

In (v.6), God says,  “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.”

Two amazing things happen here. First, God condescends to give the people what they want! The phrase “I will stand before you” is only used in the Old Testament in places where an inferior stands before a superior in the posture of a servant. Instead of punishing Israel, God assumes the posture of a servant and SERVES them by giving them an outpouring and overflow of His grace to satisfy their thirst.

The second amazing thing about v.6 is what Moses’ judgment staff strikes. Where did God stand in the posture of a servant before Moses and all the people? ON THE ROCK!  And what did Moses’ judgment staff strike? The ROCK!

When the rock is struck, God is saying to Moses, “Bring the absolute judgment on Me! I will receive the blow of justice that my people deserve so that my people can be refreshed and drink deeply from the waters of my grace.”

Do you see what this means for us? The outpouring and overflow of God’s grace while we are in the wilderness flows out of the Rock that was struck with judgment! That Rock, Paul says in 1 Cor 10, was Christ!  The One who in Mark 10:45 humbly stands before you in the posture of a servant and says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life away as a ransom for many”. Jesus serves us by paying the ransom for what our sins deserve.

This is why when Jesus hung on the cross paying that ransom, He cried out – “I Thirst”.

Jesus died of thirst in His wilderness experience so that we would have an outpouring and overflow of grace to drink from in ours! The waters of God’s grace flow from the Cross! The place where John tells us that a Roman soldier’s spear struck Jesus’ side and immediately blood and WATER poured out!

Do you see how God quenches our thirst and proves that His presence is with us? Jesus was struck with God’s judgment for you! On the cross, Jesus was abandoned by God so that those who trust in Him would never be abandoned. This is a God who is worthy of our trust and worship as we wait for our true home.



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