Monday, September 13, 2010

A tree that removes bitterness, once and for all

photo is mine and was taken in the White Moutains of Arizona

I subscribe to a daily Bible exegesis from a Yahoo group called Dynamis. It follows the Orthodox Church's calendar of readings and offers daily explanations of one of the day's prescribed readings.

Below is today's explanation of Exodus 15:22-16:1 which is in preparation for tomorrow's feast day, The Elevation of the Life-Giving Cross. It is about the tree that removes bitterness.

The Cross ~ Removes Bitterness: Exodus 15:22-16:2 SAAS, especially vs. 25: "So he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet."

Three days into the wilderness after the memorable crossing the Red Sea, God's People found no water in the vast, scorching and largely arid Sinai peninsula, a region mostly devoid of water. However, they came upon some waters, but they 'were bitter' (vs. 23) - probably poisoned. Death by thirst or poison welcomed them, but God-the-merciful revealed how these water could be changed: "...the Lord showed [Moses] a tree (vs. 25), physically visible, and then illumined to the eye of the great Seer's heart: a tree to sweeten the water!

Now, because of the Cross, "...all the trees of the wood, planted from the beginning of time, rejoice; for their nature hath been sanctified by the stretching of Christ on the Tree." Every tree is worthy of reverence, since some were used for God's glory in the saga of our salvation. The Lord disclosed a tree to Moses and ordered him to throw it into the bitter waters of a poisonous spring of the Sinai Peninsula. That place is called Marah or bitter. The particular tree at Marah is forever revered as a type of the Cross, the more wondrous Tree whereon our Lord sweetened the bitterness of the "...tree of the knowledge of good and evil..." (Gn. 2:17).

In truth, we embitter ourselves; but Christ our God has removed that poison by the Cross. The tree of God's choosing "...made the waters of Marah sweet, anticipating the act of the Cross." Glory to Him Who by His saving powers heals and showers ineffable mercy on us!

Our merciful Lord has given the Tree of His Cross to us. It illumines our hearts to see eternal power, and thus to end our bitter thirst from parching sin and death. The Cross saves in the desert of this arid world! Many addicts imagine thirst is assuaged with elixir in a bottle! Others struggle vainly against insatiable hunger for food! The honeyed kisses of illicit love fail the promise of lasting sweetness. But Christ our God reveals the Cross. On its wood He takes away the unrelieved burning of the heart "...having nailed it to the Cross" (Col. 2:14).

God sweetens the tenacious bitterness of our sin. No inherent property of the tree at Marah made the waters potable; it was God working through a little desert tree. He sweetened the water by directing Moses to cast the tree into the poisons, and "...the waters were made sweet" (Ex. 15:25). No earthly chemistry removed the bitterness at Marah, those dangerous and, lethal waters. But for us, Christ's Cross does transform the poison of this existence into Life.

The bane of our sin is changed from venom by unimaginable mercy. Christ wrests life from the Tree of His Cross. "For the message of the us who are being the power of God" (1 Cor.1:18). Be encouraged! Worship the Lord Jesus, for He promises that "...he who believes in Me shall never thirst" (Jn. 6:35).

Having quenched our forefathers' thirst, God now has "..made a statute and an ordinance..." (Ex. 15:25): "If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is pleasing in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His ordinances, I will put none of the diseases on you that I brought on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord your God who heals you" (vs. 26). God leads us on toward our Elim and "...twelve fountains of water..." (vs. 27).

The Cross is Life for all. Only bow down before the Saving Tree; embrace its wood with joy and fear: "...with fear because of sin, for we are unworthy; with joy because of the salvation which Christ, Who was nailed thereon...granted to the world."

Today's Prayer:

O Thou Who was raised up on the Cross of Thine own will, O Christ our God, do Thou bestow Thy compassions upon Thy People named after Thee from all afflictions and death.

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