Thursday, October 28, 2010

Speaking to the Rock

I heard a familiar passage on my way to work this morning and it got me thinking.

In Exodus 17, we read about how the Israelites were thirsty in the desert with no water to drink. They got mad at Moses, Moses asked God what to do, and God told Moses to strike the rock. Moses obeyed and water came rushing out.

Then in Numbers 20, we find the same situation again. Thirsty Israelites murmuring and complaining to Moses. Moses goes to God, and God tells him to SPEAK to the rock. However, Moses disobeyed and struck the rock with his rod as before. Water flowed, but Moses was disallowed from entering into the Promised Land.

This story is rich with foreshadowing. The rock is a picture of Christ Jesus. The Promised Land is a picture of heaven. When Moses struck the rock the first time and water flowed out, it was a picture of the crucifixion.

The rock only needed to be struck once; then it only needed to be spoken too. Jesus was crucified once, and that was more than sufficient and now we only need to speak to Him for forgiveness of sins, healing for our brokenness, and the water of everlasting life.

But there are many who live dangerously and continue to strike the rock again and again and again. Hebrews 6:4-6 says "For [it is] impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, (5) And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, (6) If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put [him] to an open shame."

In essence, this passage is saying "Those who turn away from God after walking with Him crucify Christ all over again." Many Christians would say "Oh, but that's not me. I haven't turned away from God." But consider...

Galatians 3:10 - "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." In short, Paul is saying that if you choose to live under the law rather than by faith in the redemptive work of Christ, you are cursed because it is impossible for man to keep all of the 613 commandments in the Old Testament.

Galatians 1:8 - "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." What is Paul talking about here? If anyone preaches any gospel other than Christ Jesus, he is cursed. The belief that you need to accept Christ AND keep the law is just that; another gospel. It is a gospel other than what Christ Jesus and the New Testament laid out for us. It is striking the rock.

When we add to the redemptive work of the cross by believing we have to attain righteousness by the law also, we are striking the rock when we need only to speak to it. We are disobeying God's word and crucifying our savior all over again. We are saying that His grace isn't sufficient and that we have to attain salvation by our good works. That is a false gospel and a very, very dangerous one.

Moses struck the rock when he only needed to speak to it, and he wasn't allowed into the Promised Land because of it. I don't know about you, but that is a sobering thought. If we strike the rock instead of speak to it; if we add to the gospel by believing "law + grace" instead of putting our absolute faith in the final, redemptive work of Christ at Calvary; we are cursed; we can't enter the Promised Land. (Don't get mad at me; get mad at Paul the Apostle!)

As kind of a rabbit trail, I've also pondered why we do this? Why do we as humans try and take the work of redemption on ourselves rather than leaving it up to the grace of God? I think at the end of the day, it boils down to the root of all human sin; pride. If we can get to heaven by "accepting Christ AND keeping the law" we've "earned" our salvation; we've done OUR part. When really, we have no part. We have grace. And grace is all we need. But we humans have this tendency to make everything about ourselves; we love to feel important. But when it comes to salvation, we are insignificant; it's all about Him and what He did on the cross for us. Anything more than that is sin.

Matthew 9:10-13
Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians 3

No comments: