The Gospel of the Imperishable Life of Christ
& The Gospel of Living Waters
“The LORD of Hosts”
“The LORD Our Eternal Shepherd”
“God the Father”
“The LORD our Eternal Healer”
“The LORD Our Eternal Banner”
In victory, we see Jehovah-Sabaoth successfully mustering an army in the Wilderness in anticipation for more warfare on the horizon in the Promised Land (Armies: Ex. 6:26, 7:4, 12:17, 51; Num. 1:3, 2:3, 9, 10, 16, 18, 24-25, 10:14, 18, 22, 28, 33:1; the Wilderness: Ex. 3:18, 4:27, 5:1, 7:16, 8:27-28, 13:18-20, 14:11-12, 15:22; Acts 7:28). Herein, the operation of glory continues in the Wilderness without intermission (Ezek. 20:33-38). The war with Egypt was past, while new wars were still to come. Nevertheless, the armies of Israel needed to be reinforced in the knowledge of God before entering the throes of battle in the future (Ex. 13:17-18).
Israel wasn’t as observant of God’s character & identity as they should have been, nor did they understand their new identity as the Army of God. In other words, they weren’t ready to courageously fight heathen armies in train with Jehovah-Sabaoth. Chiefly, because they didn’t comprehend the mercy of moral hatred in the violent acts of divine war (Gen. 15:16, Lev. 18:25, 20:23, Deut. 8:20, Hab. 3:12-13; Ps. 101:1-8, 139:19-24). Recently, at the Red Sea, Israel behaved cowardly in the face of war. Remember?
“Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea. Nevertheless he saved them for his Name's sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known. He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness. And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left. Then believed they his words; they sang his praise. They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel:” - Psalms 106:7-13
The provocation at the Red Sea is early evidence of a general problem. Not that Israel didn’t ever savingly believe in God; rather, in coming to faith in the Gospel through the winsome divine character being unveiled in the Theater of mighty exploits, the people “remembered not” and later “forgot” what they had so clearly seen (Ps. 106:7-13, 81:7, 77:18). A closer look upon the situation proves this to be the problem. At having come to saving faith in God through the Gospel, climaxing in the Passover, and suddenly being faced with temptation at the rush of Egyptian chariots in pursuit behind them at Pihahiroth, the newborn Church “cried unto the LORD” in faith insomuch that God answered them “in the secret place of thunder” (Ex. 14:10; Ps. 81:7; Ps. 77:18); howbeit the children of Israel didn’t patiently wait upon the LORD for the divine answer and rashly murmured before it was physically manifest (Ex. 14:11-12).
This is the first appearance of an ongoing problem: a gaze that is so easily turned aside from “the beauty of the LORD” will lead to repeated episodes of unbelief and rebellion (Ps. 90:17; Ps. 27:4). Therefore, at the onset of their spiritual pilgrimage, if God wanted Israel to understand anything, or if there were any vital component of personal sanctification that was necessary for final perseverance, it was this (Ps. 106:7). Only a steadfast gaze that looks and keeps looking will spiritually behold the increasingly awesome sight of God being progressively unveiled in the Theater of redemption. This why a divinely organized proving process of grace began (Ex. 15:25, 16:4, 20:20; Deut. 6:16, 8:15-16, 33:8).
“…there He proved them” – Ex. 15:25
“…that I may prove them” – Ex. 16:4
“…who brought thee forth water out of the Rock of flint
…that He might prove thee” – Ex. 17:1-7 / Deut. 8:14-16
At Marah (Ex. 15), in the Wilderness of Sinai (Ex. 16), and at Massah / Meribah (Ex. 17), the Israelites proved to be easily dissuaded from the core doctrines of the Gospel. When faced with unexpectedly bad circumstances physically and visibly, they quickly abandoned their spiritual repose upon the goodness of God (Rom. 2:5). Their spiritual turbulence of faith was due to disbelief in the persevering love of God for their souls. Unsurprisingly, this was the very thing that Jehovah wanted to prove to them; howbeit, not without reinforcing other aspects of divine character at the same time. Literally, Jehovah did this all along the Way – which means that faith’s discerning eye would discern it in the Ways that Jehovah led, instructed, kept, and bore the people (Deut. 32:10-12; Heb. 11:1). However, unbelief deceptively blinds the soul to make it deny the things that are plainly in sight.
Certainly, upon beholding the love of God afresh in the miraculous provision of Manna from Heaven and Living Water from the Rock, as two typological presentations of the Gospel, Israel was easily recovered to faith in Jehovah. Yet, it was the Exodus Generation’s propensity to backslide that was disconcerting to God and dangerous in the long run. The problem wasn’t that they couldn’t immediately be recovered to faith, but that upon being recovered they would soon return to folly – faithless behavior resulting from a spiritual imperception of the Ways of God. To further shed light on the situation, consider Paul’s perspective while under inspiration in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. Looking back on the situation from the vantage point of the New Covenant, in retrospect, Paul sees a Preincarnate form of the Son of God abiding with them as Jehovah’s Salvation in real time (Ex. 33:13, John 14:6). Of course, this is because falling out of the Way was due to unbelief in Jehovah’s Salvation, while faithfulness in the Way was a direct result of spiritual communion with Jesus in the Way of Salvation (Jesus / Jehoshua = Jehovah-Oshea). In other words, the Names & Ways of Jehovah were proclaiming Jesus to the people, while in real time Jesus was in the Way with the people for their salvation (2 Cor. 6:16).
“And did all eat the same Spiritual Meat; And did all drink the same Spiritual Drink: for they drank of that Spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” – 1 Cor. 10:3-4
Should we be surprised? Amazingly, ever since Israel departed from Egypt, the LORD went before them in a pillar of Cloud and Fire by day and night (Ex. 13:20-22; Ps. 78:14, 105:39) – a manifestation that was formally recognized as “the Glory of God” in the Old Testament (Ex. 24:10, 16, 40:34; Ps. 114:1-8). However, sadly, this manifestation among other things was unappreciated by the freshly baptized Church in the Wilderness (Acts 7:38, 1 Cor. 10:1-2). The salvific acts of God theretofore were undeniable to the people, but the divine Character that was motivated to act on their behalf deserved a more in-depth consideration. A deeper personal love for Jehovah would have compelled them so to do (Eph. 3:17-19). Why? Consider the circumstances.
Imagine a day in the life of a freshly baptized Israelite in the Wilderness. Looking up, a pavilion of shade was spread overhead by day, shielding the you from the sweltering heat of the desert; and, looking ahead, a pillar of light guided you by night, protecting you from the encroaching blindness of darkness (Ps. 105:39)! Experientially, the message being divinely communicated in the Way was loud and clear: God lovingly delights to bless them (Num. 14:8). Therefore, what was abundantly communicated in word, and plainly discernable by deed, was too lightly esteemed by the people because of a blinding spiritual insobriety of mind (Deut. 32:15). In beholding the Ways of God, Israel failed to fixate their gaze upon the LORD as El-Ab (Deut. 1:31-33).
“And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the Way that ye went, until ye came into this place. Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God, Who went in the Way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.” - Deuteronomy 1:31-33
“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand…” – Ps. 95:6-7 [Ps. 23:1-6]
In beholding the Ways of God in the Wilderness, Israel should have reacted to the unexpected circumstances with a worshipful spirit of adoration and praise by remembering the impeccable character of Jehovah (Ps. 95:6-7). Albeit, while being intimately led into the barren pastures of the Wilderness, Israel lost sight of Jehovah-Rohi (Gen. 49:24, Ex. 13:21-22, Ps. 77:11-20, 80:1, 95:7, 114:1-8, Deut. 1:31-33, Isa. 63:7-14). Sheep can’t follow on if they lose sight of the Shepherd. Neither can true believers walk with Jehovah if they lose sight of Jesus in the Wilderness (1 Cor. 10:1-4). Yet, the LORD was there onsite in very Presence; it wasn’t as if He was nowhere to be seen or heard. That’s exactly why this brutish behavior of forgetfulness was so inexcusable (Ps. 78:7-8). Therefore, Israel needed to know that God, who was Jehovah-Nakah to Egypt, will be Jehovah-Rapha to Israel, as long as the Jews remained loyal to the LORD (Ex. 15:22-27, 23:25, Deut. 7:15, Ps. 103:3, 105:37, Isa. 3:17, Deut. 28:60); otherwise, their disloyalty would be met with the smiting of Jehovah-Nakah according to the good doctrine of Jehovah-Rapha (Hos. 6:1-3, Ps. 71:20-24, 90:14-15, 1 Sam. 2:6-10, Deut. 32:39, Isa. 53:4-5).
If they can happily face bitter waters while cleaving to Jehovah-Rapha, they will be at peace in war with Jehovah-Shalom (Judges 6:24, 7:20); but the newly saved Church in the Wilderness was naïve and shortsighted (Acts 7:38). Their novice mentality lacked the gravity necessary to survive in near proximity to the special and immediate presence of God. Even so, Satan took advantage of Israel in this vulnerable time through the Amalekites, against whom Jehovah-Nissi swore eternal war (Ex. 17:14-16). Nevertheless, the LORD was still determined to ground and settle Israel in the knowledge of God (Eph. 3:17, Col. 1:23, 2:7). Somehow, Israel would come to realize the purity and loveliness of the oath-bound moral hatred of Jehovah-Nissi, and thus be uncompromising in war (Hab. 3:12-13), but they needed to grow in grace to experience such renewals of mind (2 Pet. 3:18; Ex. 4:24-26). Evidently, until then, providential divine mercy allowed for serious misbehavior with no retribution (#1 – Ex. 15:22-27, #2 – Ex. 16:2-3, #3 – Ex. 17:1-7). This brings us to the final boulevard in the proving period of mercy. For, everything changes after Sinai.