Nov 032017

The Altar of incense“You shall make an altar on which to burn incense; you shall make it of acacia wood. 2 A cubit shall be its length, and a cubit its breadth. It shall be square, and two cubits shall be its height. Its horns shall be of one piece with it. 3 You shall overlay it with pure gold, its top and around its sides and its horns. And you shall make a molding of gold around it. 4 And you shall make two golden rings for it. Under its molding on two opposite sides of it you shall make them, and they shall be holders for poles with which to carry it. 5 You shall make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 6 And you shall put it in front of the veil that is above the ark of the testimony, in front of the mercy seat that is above the testimony, where I will meet with you. 7 And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, 8 and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. (Exodus 30:1-8)

The last article in the holy place in the tabernacle is the altar of incense. It was placed just in front of the curtain which separated the holy place from the holy of holies.

Aaron was to burn incense on this altar continuously, day and night.

Incense in the bible signifies prayer, so this altar is a shadow of the intercessory ministry of Jesus. Just as the incense was burned day and night, so the bible reveals that Jesus is constantly praying for us;

he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)

What a wonderful thought that Jesus is before the father continually praying for you. He will never let you down.

The incense used was to be a unique blend, only used for God himself (Exodus 30:34-38). In fact anyone trying to replicate it and use it for themselves was to be cut off from the rest of the people. For someone to take and use this fragrance upon themselves would be like them saying that they are acceptable to God in and of themselves. The uniqueness of this fragrant blend speaks to me of the uniqueness of Jesus. No-one else’s prayers or sacrifices were acceptable before God. Jesus has the only fragrance that God finds acceptable;

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2)

We are to follow Jesus’ example of intercession, to offer prayers, requests and intercessions that are acceptable to God. They are acceptable because we are ‘in’ Christ and part of Him. I will leave you this week with a few verses on the theme of prayer and how it is an acceptable fragrance to God;

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! (Psalm 141:2)

these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. (Isaiah 56:7)

And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, 4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. (Revelation 8:3-4)

Let this inspire you to follow Jesus’ example and..pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

 November 3, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Oct 272017

The golden lampstandHe also made the lampstand of pure gold. He made the lampstand of hammered work. Its base, its stem, its cups, its calyxes, and its flowers were of one piece with it. 18 And there were six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; 19 three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on one branch, and three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on the other branch—so for the six branches going out of the lampstand.20 And on the lampstand itself were four cups made like almond blossoms, with their calyxes and flowers, 21 and a calyx of one piece with it under each pair of the six branches going out of it. 22 Their calyxes and their branches were of one piece with it. The whole of it was a single piece of hammered work of pure gold. 23 And he made its seven lamps and its tongs and its trays of pure gold. 24 He made it and all its utensils out of a talent of pure gold. (Exodus 37:17-24)

The Hebrew word for the lampstand was Menorah and it is a very distinctive shape, full of meaning as we shall see. It was a single upright shaft with 6 branches coming out of it making 7 lamps in all. It was to represent a tree or a vine. It denotes our unity with Jesus and our being part of him. He is the central stem but we have been grafted into Him and receive our sustenance from him.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

The lamps were filled daily with oil and they were never allowed to go out but were maintained continually. It was the only light source in the holy place, suggesting that God alone is the only source of light, of revelation of clarity and enlightenment.

Every object we have seen so far has been made of wood overlaid with Gold but the lampstand was made of pure gold. It is not just ‘solid’ gold but ‘pure’ gold with no imperfections. This also points to God being perfect and without blemish;

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless (Psalm 18:30 NIV)

The theme of light clearly points towards Jesus who proclaimed himself to be the light of the world;

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

The choice in the decoration of the lampstand was also significant. It represented an almond in the 3 stages of its development; flower, bud and fruit. The almond tree is a type of resurrection. It is the first tree to ‘come to life’ after the winter. This is a shadow of Christ who was the first to be resurrected;

and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. (Revelation 1:5)

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)

As I mentioned when we looked at the contents of the ark, Aaron’s rod was an almond branch and it too came to life and budded when it was obviously dead. The theme of resurrection is clear from the almond and it points to Jesus who died and rose again.

So the lampstand shadows Jesus in its; light, purity and resurrection.

 October 27, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Oct 202017

Table of showbreadAs we move through the veil from the Holy of holies, we enter the Holy place where the priests ministered. In this place were a number of objects which were highly symbolic and shadowed the life and ministry of Jesus.

This week we will be looking at the table of showbread.

“You shall make a table of acacia wood. Two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 24 You shall overlay it with pure gold and make a molding of gold around it. 25 And you shall make a rim around it a handbreadth wide, and a molding of gold around the rim. 26 And you shall make for it four rings of gold, and fasten the rings to the four corners at its four legs. 27 Close to the frame the rings shall lie, as holders for the poles to carry the table. 28 You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, and the table shall be carried with these. 29 And you shall make its plates and dishes for incense, and its flagons and bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold. 30 And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me regularly. (Exodus 25:23-30)

A meal table is a great place for fellowship. Some of the best times we can have with our family and friends is around a meal table. It’s the place where a family comes together, breaking bread and sharing life together. A place where we can communicate, deepen our relationships and bond strongly together. This was of course God’s idea all along. He loves relationship and where better to do it than a place where good food is being served and fine wine is flowing. In fact, it seems we will be feasting round a table a long time into the future;

Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:9)

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. (Isaiah 25:6)

The table of Showbread was where the priests would eat the bread in God’s presence. This meal shadowed the last supper where Jesus broke bread around a table with His 12 disciples. In fact on the table of showbread were 12 loaves of unleavened bread. The number 12 is a very significant number in the bible. It is a number of completeness. There were of course 12 tribes of Israel and 12 disciples.

The table was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold. As we saw before with the ark, these two materials represent Jesus’ humanity (acacia wood) and divinity (gold).

The table had two crowns on it, one representing a king and the other a priest. Both of these offices perfectly fulfilled in Jesus.

The bread on the table, as we have seen previously on many occasions, represents the body of Jesus. ‘show’ means to tell forth or declare. This bread declares the presence of Jesus. The bread, after it was baked, remained on the table until it was eaten. Jesus the ‘bread of life’ is forever and constantly in the presence of God the father.

God also instructed Moses to create various golden objects to be placed on the table alongside the bread. There were: dishes to place the bread on, Bowls containing Frankincense and spoons to sprinkle the Frankincense. These objects mirrored everyday household items found at that time in middle-eastern homes. Significant because God was demonstrating that the people were to regard the Tabernacle as his house.

Frankincense was placed on each row of bread

And you shall put pure frankincense on each row…” (Leviticus 24:7)

Incense always speaks of prayer and intercession, so frankincense sprinkled over the Showbread speaks of Jesus’ life of prayer and Intercession.

Next week we will look at another item in the holy place.

 October 20, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Oct 132017

The veilWe have recently been focussing on the tabernacle which travelled with the Israelites as they wandered the wilderness for 40 years. The tabernacle signified and indeed held the presence of God.

Over the last few weeks we have looked at the ark of the covenant and then the lid of the ark called “The mercy seat”. These were both housed in the innermost part of the tabernacle called “The holy of holies” and as we have seen, this is where God dwelt and where only the high priest could enter just once a year.

As we move outwards from the holy of holies we will encounter various objects which all, in some way, shadow Jesus.

This week we will look at the veil which separated the Holy of holies from the rest of the tabernacle.

The veil was quite an impressive screen for the Holy of holies. The exact measurements are not recorded in the bible, but there are details elsewhere, such as from the Jewish historian, Josephus. He stated that the curtain was roughly 60 feet high and it was an impressive 4 inches thick. According to tradition, horses tied to each side could not pull the veil apart.

It was woven together with various colours, which represent different aspects of Jesus; there was blue for heaven, purple for royalty and scarlet for blood. It was all bound together with white linen which represented purity.

The veil was purposefully thick and impenetrable because it represented the unapproachability of God, he is Holy and glorious and sinful man cannot approach him safely, we would immediately die. The high priest only survived because he sprinkled sacrificial blood.

Jesus’ earthly body was a ‘veil’ that hid the inner glory of His deity. Only on very few occasions was this veil drawn back, such as on the mount of transfiguration. The apostle Peter was an eyewitness of this event;

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honour and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. (2 peter 1:16-18)

Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John and his face shone like the sun and his clothes became bright as light (Matthew 17:1-13).

His body (veil) was torn at the cross which mirrored the physical veil in the temple being torn at the same time;

And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. (Mark 15:37-38)

The veil was too high and thick to be torn by any man. No priest would have the audacity to break with tradition even if he had the enormous strength to tear it. In any case a man would rip the veil from the bottom, It was ripped from the top. The only explanation was that God did it. It was a hugely momentous act, signifying the access that is now available through Jesus. We can now enter in to the Holy of holies, to have an intimate relationship with our heavenly father. Through Jesus the ultimate and unending sacrifice has now been made.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

 October 13, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Oct 062017

The mercy seatLast week we looked at the ark of the covenant and this week we will look at what was effectively its lid, which was called ‘The mercy seat’. This mercy seat has huge significance because it was the place where God’s anger for sin was satisfied and where mercy and justice meet.

At the time of the tabernacle, the blood which was sprinkled over the mercy seat would only satisfy God’s wrath for one calendar year and then the process had to be repeated. This of course is a shadow which points towards the sacrifice that Jesus made to satisfy God’s wrath for all time.

The word for this situation in the bible is called ‘Propitiation’ which is not a word we use in everyday conversation today. It is a word rich in meaning in the bible, but can be a little bit complicated, so I will try and simplify it.

In ancient times, especially the Ancient Greek culture, they believed in numerous gods who would quite often get angry if the people were disobedient. If for instance, there had been a bad crop one year, the people would assume they had angered the gods and would offer various sacrifices to appease or propitiate the Gods. Propitiation was therefore the attempt to avert or satisfy the anger of the gods.

Take this concept to the bible. God has revealed that His just and righteous anger is directed at mankind’s sin. The bible is quite clear that we are unable, in our own strength, to satisfy this anger. The bible reveals that Jesus was the one who would take our place, stand in front of us if you like, and divert God’s anger onto himself. This is where the mercy part of propitiation comes in. Jesus did it even when we didn’t deserve it.

Hopefully now the following verses make a bit more sense

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. (Romans 3:23-25)

Just to finish on another interesting observation. The word for ‘ark’ in the Hebrew language was ‘arown, which was another word for coffin. Here is a verse with an example;

So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt. (Genesis 50:26)

In the ark, as we saw last week, was placed symbols of man’s rebellion or inability to reach God; the tablets of stone, the manna and Aaron’s rod. These items were buried in the coffin and then covered by the mercy seat. Another fantastic picture of what Jesus achieved for us.

The example of the mercy seat is shown in various places in the bible. Let me finish with one example.

The original mercy seat had two cherubim (angels) on either end of the mercy seat. Now notice the significance of what Mary saw at the tomb of Jesus;

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. (John 20:11-12)

This is a wonderful picture of the mercy seat with the two angels sitting at either end. But only the grave clothes were there! Jesus’ missing body was key. It meant he had risen, confirming that God’s anger had been fully satisfied.

 October 6, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Sep 292017

The ark of the covenantThe Ark of the Covenant has been made famous in recent times by the huge box office film ‘raiders of the lost ark’ where Indiana Jones follows various archaeological clues to locate the missing ark, before the Nazi’s get their evil hands on it.

The Ark of the Covenant was the central part of the tabernacle, but actually, at the time, no Israelite got to see it, except one, the High priest. He was allowed only once a year into the innermost part of the tabernacle, the Holy of holies, where God dwelt. He would enter with reverence and great fear and sprinkle blood to atone for the people’s sins. When the tabernacle was taken down and moved around with the Israelites it was carefully wrapped in the veil and then with a covering made from badger’s skins.

The ark is the first item mentioned in the instructions God gives for the tabernacle in Exodus 25 onwards. Here is the relevant passage;

They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it. You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. And you shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give you. (Exodus 25:10-16)

The ark was constructed out of natural Acacia wood which speaks of Jesus’s humanity. It was overlaid with gold which signified his deity. It couldn’t be described as a wooden box because of the gold and it wasn’t a golden casket because it was made of wood. It required both to perfectly represent Jesus who is the ‘God-man’ inhabiting both natures fully and at the same time. This wonderful doctrine is called the hypostatic union.

The fact that Jesus is God has been hotly debated throughout history, but the bible is quite clear about His divinity.

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9)

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. (John 14:1)

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:9)

The bible, on many occasions, also confirms his humanity; He grew tired, He slept, He ate and drank and He laughed and cried.

The ark was not an empty box, but contained 3 items which further symbolise aspects of Jesus;

1. The two tablets of the law which Moses brought down from the mountain (the first two he broke during the golden calf incident) these unbroken tablets signified Jesus keeping the law fully and indeed fulfilling it.

2. A pot containing some Manna. As we saw a few weeks ago, God in His grace and mercy provided sustenance for His people for 40 years while they were in the wilderness. This signifies God providing Jesus by His grace to satisfy and sustain us. He is of course ‘The bread of life’ (John 6:35).

3. Aaron’s rod that budded (Numbers 17) This was the occasion when a dead object came to life, an amazing picture of the resurrection of Jesus.

The ark was to remain portable (Exodus 25:15). The poles were to remain in the rings. Jesus leads us as pilgrims through this world. We do not belong here. We should never settle but be continually on the move. Jesus is with us wherever we go, moving us further and deeper into God’s purposes.

Just to finish, by referencing the film I mentioned at the beginning. We no longer need to search for a physical ark as some sort of trophy of God’s presence with us or something that holds special power in itself. I wouldn’t be surprised if the physical ark was destroyed centuries ago as it is no longer necessary. It was a symbol and a shadow of the reality that we now possess and that is that God dwells within us through His spirit. The ark that houses His presence is our Physical bodies. What an amazing thought!

 September 29, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Sep 222017

One of the central themes of the bible is about God wanting to ‘dwell’ with His people. We were made for relationship with Him. That is our design and our purpose and we will never be truly fulfilled until we discover this.

We see how God seeks relationship with those He has created throughout the pages of the bible, from Genesis to Revelation. In the early days at the beginning of the bible this relationship was developed with individuals such as; Adam, Abraham and Enoch, but this was only a temporary measure until He could develop a relationship with many people. The Jewish nation was never the end game but only a progression until He could gather a people from every tribe and nation.

At the point we have reached in Exodus, God makes it clear that He wants to be with His people;

And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. (Exodus 25:8)

He then goes on to give details about how He wants this tabernacle to be measured and what it will contain. We see in every aspect of this design how Jesus is ‘shadowed’ and we will look at these in greater detail over the coming weeks.

The tabernacle became a nomad like God’s people and was set up and packed away wherever they went. This demonstrated God’s closeness to His people, He was there in the centre. He dwelt in a tent just as they dwelt in tents. This was all a shadow of what was to come when Jesus took on flesh and came to dwell with those He had created.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14)

The word ‘dwelt’ there could just as easily be interpreted ‘tabernacled’. Jesus came to tabernacle among us.

Another name for the tabernacle was ‘The tent of testimony’ (Numbers 9:15). It testified of all that was to come.

The tabernacle was set out, under God’s instruction, to allow a sinful people to approach him. It had priests and sacrifices and interestingly only one door. This is significant when you consider that Jesus stated “I am the door” in John 10:7. There is no other way to approach God except through Him.

This is the fantastic news that God has made a way, through Jesus, to dwell with His people. Through this amazing transformation that Jesus paid for on the cross, our bodies have now become temples of the Holy Spirit and we can have God living with us and inside us every moment of the day

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

Paul writing to the Ephesians, gives just some of the many blessings of Jesus dwelling with us

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Just wow!! That is worth meditating on. why not take a few moments to let that fully sink in.

This all points to the culmination of history when we will dwell with God forever

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. (Revelation 21:3)

 September 22, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Sep 152017

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

As I said last week, many incidents in the Old Testament are clearly stated in the New Testament as being shadows of Jesus. This week is no exception as the Apostle Paul states clearly in his letter to the Corinthians that Jesus represents the rock that was struck at Horeb. The Israelites as usual had been grumbling and moaning once again about the lack of water. So much so that Moses was afraid for his life as they were obviously threatening him;

So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” And the Lord said to 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. 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. And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17:4-7)

The striking of the rock foreshadowed Jesus being struck on the cross which would then allow the water of the Holy Spirit to flow forth

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief (Isaiah 53:10)

The people then were physically thirsty just as now people are spiritually thirsty. They were undeserving of this mazing miracle just as we are undeserving to receive this amazing free gift. In fact we all do our fair share of moaning and complaining. Just as in the wilderness God’s grace was shown to a rebellious people by Moses striking the rock, so God shows his grace for all people by striking His precious son.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (I Peter 2:24)

The water that flowed out of the rock would soon dry up and would not quench people’s thirst continually. The water that Jesus supplies is available for all eternity. Speaking to the woman at the well..

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13–14)

 September 15, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Sep 082017

Shadows of Jesus mannaMany of the shadows we see of Jesus in the Old Testament are discovered as people have studied the scriptures and have reflected how different occasions and people point towards the one who was to come. Other shadows are specifically mentioned in the New Testament as pointing towards Christ. The Manna given to the Israelites in the wilderness that we will be looking at today is mentioned by Jesus himself.

Jesus has just fed the 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes and then walked on water across the sea to Capernaum. The next day a crowd gathers and amazingly but not surprisingly the religious establishment ask him for a sign. Just before he declares himself to be ‘The bread of life’ Jesus answers their questions;

So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” (John 6:30-34)

The manna given to the Israelites was to point towards the ‘true bread’ who was to come. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the original story it is in Exodus chapter 16. As we saw last week the Israelites were given fresh water to drink from the bitter pool. After this they were led to proper streams of fresh water at a place called Elim. Straight after this they go further into the wilderness and they are complaining again about a lack of food. God causes a type of bread to just fall from the sky, a substance called ‘manna’ which literally translated meant ‘what is it?’. God faithfully fed his people with this miraculous substance for 40 years.

Let’s consider some similarities between this manna and Jesus;

  • The manna first appeared at the wilderness called ‘sin’ (Exodus 16:1). How apt that Jesus also came down to a world that was full of sin in order to save everyone who partakes of him, from spiritual starvation.
  • It arrived at night time and Jesus came as a light in the darkness (John 3:19-21)
  • Manna came down from heaven and Jesus is called “The man of heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:48)
  • It was white in colour, pointing to Christ’s purity (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15)
  • It had to be gathered individually (Exodus 16:16). We come to Christ as individuals, believing in Him as a personal and individual choice. (Romans 6:11, Galatians 2:20)
  • It met a daily need (Exodus 16:4). We come to Christ daily for our spiritual sustenance (1 Corinthians 15:31)
  • Manna was not just picked up and eaten but was prepared by beating and grinding and prepared into cakes (Numbers 11:8). Jesus was beaten, crushed and broken for us (Isaiah 53:4-5)
  • Manna was gathered in double amounts on the day before the Sabbath (Exodus 16:23-24). Christ’s body, after he was crucified, lay in the tomb and did not suffer corruption (Psalm 16:10)
  • A portion of manna was set aside as a remembrance (Exodus 16:33) and later on was placed in the ark of the covenant which was a picture of Christ being exalted at the right hand of the father and established there for all eternity (Ephesians 1:20-23).

For further reflection, click on the following link to read a blog I wrote some while ago about Jesus being the bread of life

 September 8, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Sep 012017

Shadows of Jesus the water at MarahThen Moses led Israel to journey away from the Red Sea. They went out to the Desert of Shur, walked for three days into the desert, and found no water. 23 Then they came to Marah, but they were not able to drink the waters of Marah, because they were bitter. (That is why its name was Marah.)

24 So the people murmured against Moses, saying, “What can we drink?” 25 He cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When Moses threw it into the water, the water became safe to drink. There the Lord made for them a binding ordinance, and there he tested them. (Exodus 15:22-25 NET bible)

The Israelites are on a high. They have just been delivered through the Red sea and the Egyptian army who were close behind were all drowned. At the beginning of today’s chapter they are writing and singing songs of triumph. God has delivered them and the only way is up.

As many of you will be all too aware, after many great victories and highs come some very testing lows. This happens to all of us and even Jesus himself was not immune. Just as the Israelites had just passed through water, Jesus had just passed through the waters of baptism. It was a great occasion, enjoyed by all three members of the trinity; the Holy Spirit descending like a dove and the father exclaiming with great love and compassion; “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)

Immediately after this, Jesus, just like the Israelites, is led into the wilderness (but for a lot longer than 3 days). Just like them He was tired, hungry and thirsty. Would He moan at the first opportunity? Absolutely not!

In many ways you can’t really blame the Israelites. 3 days is plenty of time to get over the euphoria of escaping captivity as they get increasingly hungry and thirsty. At last they find some water but as soon as they drink it they realise that it is bitter and undrinkable. “What is God doing, I thought He was on our side?” So begins the first of many tests for God’s people to see if they really trust Him or not. Will they trust Him through the testing times as well as when everything is going well?

This situation shadows Jesus because of God’s answer for making the water pure. I don’t think it is a coincidence at all that God commands Moses to throw a tree into the water. Jesus was crucified on a ‘tree’. Without God our lives are bitter, the curse of sin makes everything distasteful. The poison of sin and disobedience affects everything. The cross of Christ is applied to our lives and we are made pure and holy, sweet to the taste and just as we are meant to be.

The bible also has a lot to say about the symbolism of water and how it brings life. A very famous passage is in John 7 where Jesus gives an invitation for living water.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37)

He is repeating an invitation by Isaiah “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters” (Isaiah 55:1)

And in the culmination of history, the invitation to take this living water is a central theme;

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (Revelation 22:17)

How about you, are you thirsty?

 September 1, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »