The last post I wrote dealt with the murmuring of the children of Israel in the desert. I wrote about how God provided for the conversion of bitter water to sweet. The gist of the story was that a tree was cast into the water, and that the tree was symbolic of Christ’s suffering on the cross. I went on to say that we only need to add Christ to our everyday life to find that our “bitter waters” will be made sweet. It was only after a few days of writing this post that the LORD impressed upon me another perspective. He showed me a little view about what being cast into the bitter waters meant to the Christ of God. I would like to share this now.
As I was thinking about the tree, I was reminded of Psalm 1, where it speaks of a Man whose daily delight is in the Law of God. This Man is compared to a tree that is “planted by the rivers of water” that continuously brings fruit because of its root system being submerged in the river. There is a constant water source that provides for the perfect amount of sustenance. It is only natural that a tree placed under this condition will flourish.
It reminds me of a time that my family and I drove up Highway 16 from Helotes to Interstate 10. The road snakes along its way as it heads toward the interstate, and several times it approaches and crosses the Medina River (at least I think that’s the name). It was striking to me how obvious it was that we were approaching a river even when we were far away. From a distance, we could tell there was a river up ahead because of the presence of long rows of green foliage. It was summer, and particularly dry at the time, so the sight of anything green begged for attention. My mind immediately allowed a cross-reference to this passage in Psalm 1. The trees were constantly supplied with fresh water, and they displayed the influence outwardly. So it is with Christ.
He is the only One who ever found all His delight in His Father in Heaven. All through His life. He could be found “drinking” from the rivers of water. When, at the age of twelve, his parents were traveling and lost sight of Him, and they hurriedly returned to Jerusalem to find Jesus talking with the teachers of Israel about the things of God. His mind was always given over to these things. Even while He gasped for air in His death on the cross, He was thinking of God when He asked that His murderers be forgiven for their deeds. He was covertly a tree planted by the rivers of water.
So how does this mesh with the story in Exodus about the children and their complaints of thirst, and the lack of acceptable water? It seems pretty clear. The children in the desert were about three days without water. They were on the brink of death. So were we spiritually, before we knew the Lord Jesus. God tells Moses to cast a tree into the waters to make them sweet, and thus He rescues the children from death. We were also abiding at Death’s door because of our sin, when God provided a way for our deliverance. Our sin demanded that we pay, and the penalty of sin is death. So He pointed to a tree. The tree He pointed to was the tree that His Son occupied – the cross of Calvary.
To tie everything up nicely, we see that the Lord Jesus was a tree bringing constant fruit. We also notice that for Him to be cast into the bitter waters, he must have been uprooted – taken from His perfect condition, and thrust into a very painful one. He was, for eternity, sitting upon His throne in Heaven, the object of angels’ adoration. He was given the choice when presented with the impending doom that faced mankind: Stay on the throne, and let them die, or leave the throne, and bring them life. He chose to leave the throne to take our place in death. He became our substitute. He allowed Himself to be uprooted, and cast into the bitter waters of the cross. Now our waters are only sweet. What amazing love must have led Him there!
In closing, it astounds us to think upon His dying words. In the Gospel of John, shortly before His death, we hear the Lord utter an amazing statement, much related to the current context. This Man, who was the tree uprooted, and cast into the dark and bitter waters of the cross exclaimed, “I thirst”. How humbling it is to find that we caused this thirst. The One who only knew of the lush foliage that comes from a constant water source, chose to be thirsty that we might drink from the wells of salvation. Astounding and amazing love is in our presence!
From Salem’s gates advancing slow,
What object meets mine eyes
What means this majesty of woe?
What mean these mingled cries?
Is this the Man!
Can this be He the prophets have foretold?
Who with transgressors numbered be,
And for my crimes was sold
Ah, lovely sight, oh, heavenly form,
For sinful souls to see
I creep beside Him as a worm,
And see Him die for me.
(Found at –Revival and camp meeting minstrel http://books.google.com/books?id=mTkPAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA413&lpg=PA413&dq=%22From+Salem%27s+gates+advancing+slow%22&source=bl&ots=f25HZoG_bp&sig=JVNE3xJeAAB-OcvwIwaBdkLL_YE&hl=en&ei=XwpBSs6XLOK_twfxoPCoCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5)