|Painting by Lidia Kosenitzky 2009 (wikimedia)|
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Water and Oil: Judgment and Deliverance (Part 1: Water)
As we have seen in previous posts, water and oil in the Bible represent God’s blessings of physical and spiritual sustenance and healing. But the Lord gives and He takes away (Job 1:21), and He can use water and oil to demonstrate His omnipotent wrath as well as His infinite love.
God used water to judge mankind for their sin when He destroyed the vast majority of men and living creatures in a global flood, sparing only faithful Noah and his family (Genesis 6:17). Thankfully, He promised that He would never again destroy the whole earth by water, and He gave us the rainbow as His sign of that promise (Genesis 9 :11-15).
Nonetheless, God continued to use the destructive force of water and localized flooding as an instrument of judgment, as in the ”overflowing flood ’’ that destroyed the city of the Philistines (Jeremiah 47:2). While sparing the Israelites and allowing their escape from captivity as He parted the Red Sea waters (Exodus 14::21-29; Nehemiah 9:11). He released the waves just in time for the pursuing Egyptians to drown (Psalm 106:11).
Other examples of water as a barricade preventing passage until God miraculously intervened include His drying up the Jordan waters so the Israelites could pass over (Joshua 4:23,) and Elijah and then Elisha parting the waters to cross the Jordan (2 Kings 2:8,14). Oceans and other great bodies of water tend to isolate peoples and nations, particularly before modern times of air travel. In the new heaven and new earth, there will be no more sea (Revelation 21:1), perhaps representing the unity of all the saints throughout eternity, and free passage to one another at the speed of thought!
God used the violent power of water to punish Jonah for his disobedience (Jonah 2:3-5), but once he learned his lesson and prayed to God for mercy, the whale vomited so that the waves could cast Jonah safely onto dry land (Jonah 2:10). The churning waves in a storm tested the faith of Jesus’ disciples while revealing His supernatural power to save them (Matthew 8:24-27).
Contamination of the water is a terrible judgment, as in the Egyptian plague of waters turning to blood (Exodus 7:17-24; Psalm 105:29). To punish the Israelites for their sin of idolatry, Moses ground up the golden calf and added the powder to their drinking water (Exodus 32:20); During the Tribulation, the waters will again be contaminated as the star Wormwood falls into the sea, polluting one third of the water (Revelation 8:10-11).
Elisha purified barren water with salt (2 Kings 2: 19-22), foreshadowing Christ’s commandment that believers be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13, comforting and restoring those marred by the sinful world. Moses turned bitter water to sweet with a medicinal branch (Exodus 15:23-25), and Jesus Christ Who is the Righteous Branch (Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15) purifies our sinful souls.
When believers are born again by placing their faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only way to eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6), the indwelling Holy Spirit makes each of us a source of living water to refresh the world (John 7:38).
But sadly, our remaining sin nature sometimes pollutes our testimony. As James reminds us, the same fountain cannot give forth sweet and bittter water (James 3:11-12), and if we allow our sin nature to gain control, what we spout forth is poison not fit for others to consume (James 3:8). But if believers yield to the Spirit, He can use the living water, or Scripture spoken in love, flowing from us to help cleanse others from sin-sickness and to be a healing force for good and for salvation.
With every instance of God’s judgment through water He has provided deliverance for those who are faithful and obedient to Him. Noah and his family found refuge in the ark floating safely above the flood waters, which was echoed in baby Moses floating in his basket to escape infanticide as he was rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 2:10). In their angry pursuit of the escaping Israelites, the Egyptians perished in the Red Sea, but God made a way through the raging waters for His chosen people.
God chastised Jonah by enclosing him in a watery grave for three days and nights, foreshadowing God’s ultimate plan of salvation as Jesus Christ rose from the dead to conquer sin ad death forever (John 3:16; Romans 5:12-21). The prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) may control the waves, but even he must cease and desist when the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) rebukes the storm. Praise God that He is not only the Righteous Judge (Psalm 9:8; Revelation 19:11), but also our Savior, Deliverer and Redeemer! (Isaiah 47:4; 60:16)
© 2013 Laurie Collett