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February 16, Day #47 – The Time Has Come

We have already seen an example of the Israelites’ whining in the wilderness (cf., Exodus 16:2). Today, in Exodus 17-18, we further see them” quarreling with Moses and grumbling against him” (Exodus 17:2-3). They ask him, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt?” (verse 3) – as if they had nothing to do with the decision to leave. How foolish and forgetful they were (and we are)! God provides them water from the rock that Moses was instructed to strike with his rod. Of course, this is a picture of Christ our Rock being smitten by His crucifixion, thus providing for us the water of life. Then, we read about the unprovoked Amalekite attack on Israel (sounds a little like the recent unprovoked Hamas attack on Israel). At this time, the Israelites were vulnerable – with their backs to the sea and their faces before their Amalekite enemies. As descendants of Esau (cf., Genesis 36:12), the Amalekites – the first nation to attack Israel - are recurrent and persistent enemies of the Israelites. Thus, they are tools in the hands of Satan and enemies of God.The defeat of Satan and his program requires divine intervention, and that’s what we see here – God intervenes – and He wants Joshua to take particular notice. The Amalekites will taunt Israel again in the future (cf., 1 Samuel 15:2-3).

In chapter 18, we see Jethro’s visit to Moses and his excellent leadership advice to divide the workload among other trusted subordinates. Before Jethro came, Moses must have been feeling pretty discouraged by all the Israelites’ complaints. Sometimes, it’s easy for us to feel discouraged or even abandoned - thirsty in the desert of life without water - so we begin wrongly to argue and grumble against God. At other times, our own perspective prevents us from seeing a solution that others can readily see. Other viewpoints should be considered. Here, Jethro provides this for Moses. God knew whom Moses needed to give him some relief, and Moses was open to listening to his father-in-law. Jethro’s advice proved valuable. God is our ever-present Provider and Sustainer Who knows where the water and the encouragement in our desert may be found. We must continue to trust Him, for - “the LORD is our Banner” (Exodus 17:15).

Psalm 22 has special meaning for me as I try to carry on in this stage of my life. In reality, I first came to grips with this Psalm when I was in seminary, and I was overwhelmed by its prophetic references to Christ’s crucifixion. Reading this Psalm sometimes brings me to tears, as it reminds me of how universally our Lord suffered for us - because of our sin. I am so thankful for God’s mercy and grace to me! Jesus quoted Scripture often, and Psalm 22 is prophetically what came to His mind on the cross. It fully expresses His heart, his compassion, and his sadness. David must have felt very low when he wrote this Psalm. Thankfully, God is merciful, and we will never have to suffer like Jesus did. Through the Word of God, He helps us get through our low moments.

Coming to Mark’s gospel today, we see Mark’s quote of Isaiah 40:3 to introduce John the Baptist, the forerunner of our Lord. Like John in Mark’s gospel, I also confess my own unworthiness even “to stoop before Him” (cf., Mark 1:7). “After John was put in prison, Jesus proclaimed, “The time has come. The kingdom is near” (verse 15). Wherever the king is – that’s where his kingdom is. Here we see the baptism and temptation of Christ, the selection of the first disciples, the exorcism of a demonic spirit, many healings (including that of a leper), and Christ’s interests in and need for solitude. These supernatural actions all serve the purpose of establishing Christ’s divine authority over both the spiritual and natural worlds. Moreover, as fully Man, Jesus knew firsthand what it’s like to be scorned, mocked, tired, and even forsaken - which goes way beyond what we must bear in this life. Daily, we should be thankful for His promise: “never to leave or forsake us” (cf., Deuteronomy 31:6).

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