“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36).
God, in His great and wonderful wisdom, has made His salvation glorious and truly profound.
His judgments upon the evil of men are terrifying, and anyone who thinks God’s holiness and righteous judgments can be dismissed as unfair, harsh or unwarranted; does not realize the complexity of sin and evil within the human heart or has not truly considered the implications of God as the Creator and Author of life.
No one has been, or ever will be, qualified to tell God what He can or can’t do. God is perfectly blameless. He has never done wrong and He is incapable of any evil or sin because He is Holy and He delights in loving-kindness, justice and righteousness (Jeremiah 9:23-26).
God’s way of salvation is through a clear and simple message. A message to which we are called to respond. The simplicity of the message means no one is excluded from the saving reach of God’s eternal loving-kindness, and available to all who will respond to His call (John 1: 12-13).
The call of God to salvation is through the gift of grace provided in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. This is the grace which God has given to the world as an act of unconditional love, and cannot be ignored without grievous eternal consequences.
Three events in the Old Testament demonstrate the profound truth about the nature of our salvation in Jesus. The narratives show how trust in following God’s instructions result in salvation, and point us forward as examples of our response to the call of salvation in Jesus.
The narratives also show how salvation is an act of mercy and grace to escape God’s righteous judgment. The provision of salvation through following God’s instructions with a simple response of faith in what God has said through His word.
“For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments - I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:12-13).
“For the LORD will pass through to strike down the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the top and the two sides of the doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to strike you.” (Exodus 12:23).
“Now it came about at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle.
Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead. Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, "Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the LORD, as you have said. Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go, and bless me also.
The Egyptians urged the people, to send them out of the land in haste, for they said, “We will all be dead.” (Exodus 12:29-33).
The message of the Passover is straightforward and extremely serious. God instructs Israel to place the blood of the sacrificial lamb on the top and side door-posts of the house, and commands them to stay in the house until the coming judgment had passed. Clear and simple instructions.
God’s judgment came upon the Egyptians as a consequence of Pharaoh’s evil and sin, manifested in his cruelty in killing all the Hebrew male children, so he could continue to control and dominate the Israelites for his unjust gains and advantage (Exodus 1).
God gave the simple Passover instructions as an act of mercy and grace to save His people from the coming judgment. The Israelites were no more righteous than the Egyptians but God is His providence and sovereignty, in accordance with His eternal purposes to bring salvation to the world, provided a way of escape for all who followed His instructions. If any of the Israelites did not act in faith and prepare themselves as God had instructed, then they would have been struck down just like the Egyptians.
The same principle applies today for salvation from God’s coming judgment to all who will follow His instructions to place a genuine trust from the heart, in the atoning sacrifice of the death and resurrection of Jesus. This faith results in a changed life by following the example of Jesus and seeking to grow in the grace and knowledge of God.
Faith in Jesus means we are spiritually united in Christ and our sins are covered by His precious blood. The blood of the Passover lamb was God’s way of preparing us to accept Jesus as the lamb of God as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and just like all those inside the house were spared from the wrath of God by the blood of the lamb - so all those in Christ are spared from condemnation by the blood of Jesus.
God’s wrath and judgement will Passover all who are in Christ, and will be saved to inherit the blessings of God in this life and the next.
Snake in the Wilderness
“The people spoke against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food."
The LORD sent venomous snakes among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the snakes from us." And Moses interceded for the people.
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make a venomous snake, and set it on a pole; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at the snake on the pole, he will live."
And Moses made a bronze snake and set it on the pole; and it came about, that if a snake bit any man, when he looked to the bronze snake, he lived.”
Jesus uses the account of the bronze snake on the pole as a representation and parallel of how faith in His atoning sacrifice on the cross saves all who look to Him in faith for their salvation.
“As Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-16).
It is extraordinary how God uses so many parallels and foreshadowing’s in the Old testament to point to Jesus. These are not cleverly made up stories to beguile the masses into servitude for worldly gain, as many who deny God and the resurrection claim, but proof that God is the Author of His word, who sees the end from the beginning, and proclaims future events with perfect accuracy, so that we may trust in Him (2 Peter 1:16).
The origin of sin is found in the garden of Eden when Satan, represented by the snake, tempted Adam and Eve to go against God’s instructions. In a symbolic way (without taking the analogy too far), we have all been bitten by the evil one and are destined to die, because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). And we are rightly under the sentence of death because we have chosen to sin against God. God is perfectly just and righteous to pronounce and execute His judgment upon us by virtue of His authority and power as the Creator and Judge of all creation.
This is the very reason why no one can accuse God of any injustice, but instead, for anyone who has eyes to see and hears to hear, God first and foremost shows mercy and grace by providing salvation instead of condemnation, and only after God’s salvation has been rejected, will God’s final judgment fall upon all who are unrepentant.
Even more so, God offers salvation and the opportunity for people to repent and follow Jesus with great patience before enacting His final and eternal verdict (2 Peter 3:3-9).
The message of the cross is clear and simple - look to Jesus for your salvation from sin and death, and your acceptance and reconciliation with God (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
The Healing of Naaman the Syrian Leper
“So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean."
But Naaman was furious and went away and said, "Behold, I thought, 'He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leprosy.' "Are not the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage.
Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, "My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean?"
So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.”
(2 Kings 5:9-14).
Naaman was endowed with great authority, wealth and respect as the captain of the army, but he suffered from the incurable disease of leprosy. Having been told by his Hebrew slave that he could be healed by a prophet in Israel, Naaman traveled to Israel to find healing. When he came to Elisha’s house, Elisha didn't even come out to meet him but gave instructions to Naman to wash in the Jordan seven times. Elisha instructed Naaman as a man of God, speaking the very words of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Naaman was offended and angered at the simplicity of the command. He expected a big show and display of power by Elisha. But Naaman was missing the whole point of faith, in the same way many people miss the point today.
People often expect God to act and perform with pomp and show, but God knows what is best for each individual and His purposes involve an eternal weight of considerations, not just temporary earthly blessings.
If Naaman had not been prompted by his servant to accept the simple instruction of Elisha, then he would not have been healed. This shows the mercy of God upon Naaman by God using Naaman’s servant to speak to him and prompt him to respond in faith.
The outcome of this act of faith was that Naaman was healed, and he was so amazed and grateful for his healing, that he acknowledged and worshiped God, and came into a personal relationship with his Creator.
God has sent Jesus into the world to save people who will place their trust in Him. It is a simple message and the greatest act of love in history which demonstrates God’s loving-kindness, and announces the only way of salvation that will guarantee our eternal destination in heaven.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” (Titus 2:11-14).
“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” (Romans 1:16-17).