FORESHADOWING THE CROSS

Not much consolation in the desert.   It is arid, bitter with alkaline, and deadly to human life.

life is a desert

My plans for writing about the Cross all weekend met with “technical difficulties”  common to all Internet users at times, so I won’t complain,   but it’s important to repeat that the Cross of Christ is a real object, and this is the time of the year when the Cross itself is “exalted.”

dry desert

The Cross “began” in the desert, the hot, dry inhospitable desert, and Moses had just led the people of God out into that desert where they were safe from Pharaoh’s army (which had been destroyed anyway) but where many other dangers awaited.

Thirsty!  Thirsty!  Thirsty!   “Moses, did you bring us out in the desert here to DIE?”    With inspiration from above, Moses led the group of people to a pool of water.  It was a pool of bitter, undrinkable water.   The natural world had produced water for the people,  but it couldn’t quench their thirst.  (Note:  nothing in the world can’t ultimately satisfy us.)

marah

Another inspiration,  and Moses was led to a small wooden tree;  it was cut down; it was thrown into the pool of bitter water.   Miracle, then, as the water turned sweet, the bitter water was healed,  the people’s thirst was met.  (Story found in Exodus 15)

This event entered into the historic conscious of the Jewish people.
fiery serpent

The journey into the wilderness continued, conditions were hard, the people faced hunger, thirst, and enemy attacks.   Miracle after miracle saved them,  helped them through the bitter circumstances of life in the desert, but still the people complained.

Does God not come through for them each time?  Does God not care for them as a father would care for his children?   Did they not trust that God is good?   A chastisement was needed:  “fiery serpents,”  or venomous snakes overwhelmed their campground, biting and filling their bodies with bitter poison, killing some, sickening some, making them all feel very vulnerable.

Again, a remedy is needed.  But what a strange one!    Moses was to make a brass image, like a little statue or figurine of one of the snakes and mount in on a wooden stake.    The people were to look upon it, and more than look — to gaze upon it, to meditate,  to wonder at it, because as they did so,  their bodies were healed and the fiery snake things dissipated.  (Story found in Numbers 21)

Again this event entered into the historic consciousness of the Jewish people.

moses striking rock

Another experience with long days of finding no water, desperately needing life-giving water.  Another command by God to use the wood, this time the wood of Moses’ own staff, to strike the huge dry rock before them.   The wood touched the rock and the waters that give life and strength poured out for the people.

Again,  it was wood that participated in the healing miracle that manifested out from God’s “mind.”

It may seem strange to remember these three events on the Weekend of the Cross —   but each one presents to us the image of wood as the instrument through which salvation for humans came.    Each of these events are a foreshadowing of the central importance of the wood of the Cross and the remedy we need after we succumb to the bitterness and poison of this world.

Some day the Jewish Messiah would come,  some day the Jewish people would reject the bitterness of what the world offers and choose the sweetness from the Cross;  some day the Jewish people would understand the image of their Messiah, presented as a curse on a stake, that heals the wounds of that Cursed One who leads the human race astray;  some day the Jewish people would recognize their Rock,  struck down by the wood of the Cross.

Some day that understanding would be open to the Gentiles too.

Lift high the Cross!

 

 

 

 

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