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Foundations of Grace and Truth in Exodus
By David A. DePra
If there is one foundational Truth upon which all else is based in the Christian experience, it is that of GRACE. Grace and Truth came in Jesus Christ, and if we are to walk in the life of Christ we must walk in Truth and we must walk in grace.
But to most of us, grace is merely a doctrine to believe in. We know we are saved by grace through faith. Yet we are to live by His grace. What does that mean?
Basically, it means that we are to live from OUT OF CHRIST -- rather than from out of ourselves. Thus, we see that grace is not simply a legal position for believers. Rather, it is the means of life and relationship with God through His Son.
Jesus Christ does not merely give us life. Jesus Christ IS our life. And yet fundamental to Christ as our life is the fact that His life is that of living grace. Indeed, we might even say that grace is a Person. God doesn’t simply give us a THING called eternal life. He gives us Christ, in whom there is all life – who IS THE LIFE.
None of us are prepared to walk in the Truth of Christ – salvation is only the beginning of the possibility. This is a life utterly different, indeed, utterly contrary, to what we know. Once we are born again, we must start to LEARN CHRIST. Thus, God must reveal Christ in us; form Christ in us. But as He does, what will emerge is NOT a, "super Christian." No. What will emerge is someone who is decreasing so that Christ might increase. Or, if you prefer, what will emerge as we learn Christ and He is formed in us, is a believer who lives more and more from out of Christ, and is a product and expression of the grace of God.
We find this taught all through the NT. Paul said that to the degree that he was weak the power of Christ was upon him. Jesus said that we must lose our life in order to find true life in Him – and that this was accomplished only by carrying a cross daily. The only TRUE relationship with God is one where I am happily nothing and Christ is everything. The only way to walk in Truth is if I am walking, "by grace through faith." We are to be recipients of all that God has through Christ.
Now, that would seem easy, wouldn’t it, just to be a recipient? But the reason it is not is that we are not merely talking about receiving gifts. We are talking about fellowship with a Person – a Person who said, "I am the Truth." Thus, in order to fellowship with Christ and be able to walk in all that God has for us through Him, we have TO BE MADE TRUE unto God. We have to be made true to walk with in the Truth with the Truth Himself. That requires change in us – from what we are over to the Truth.
Don’t think of BEING MADE TRUE unto God as a matter of learning doctrines. No. This is about learning Christ – it is about having His mind and His heart formed in us. It is about being one with Him in purpose. Few of us have any idea at all what we are made of void of Christ. We still think this is about getting religion. No. It is about becoming a new creation through new birth and learning Christ so that we can live and fellowship with Him forever.
The Example of Israel
God had a purpose for the nation of Israel even while they were still slaves in Egypt. He intended to give them an inheritance that is called the Promised Land. They were to be His people, and He was to be their God. This was to be their INHERITANCE.
All of that in the OT is a type and shadow of the inheritance of the saints in the NT. The inheritance of the saints is essentially FULLNESS IN CHRIST. It starts with Christ Himself as our inheritance, and all that can then extend from Him – as far as the purposes of God through the eternal ages. Thus, just as God had to bring Israel into the Promised Land through a process, so we also must be brought into our inheritance.
If all that God wanted was a nation in Canaan land He could have accomplished that without so much effort. But you will note that Israel’s relationship with God was primary to everything that God intended for them. Thus, we see that simply receiving an inheritance was not enough. They had to learn to live in that inheritance to God’s glory. For yes, God had an inheritance for Israel, but Israel was likewise God’s inheritance for Himself. God has a purpose HE is working.
God has not saved us today to simply send us off into some meaningless existence in heaven. He has saved us for Himself – our inheritance is to live in Christ forever. But in order to do that, we must be FITTED into our inheritance, or as I said, we must be made true unto God. We must learn Christ – know the Truth – and be able to walk in Christ to God’s glory. Thus, the NT experience of the saints is represented in type and shadow in the OT experience of Israel. What He did with them in preparing them to live in the land is an example for us – it is what He is doing in His saints so that we might live in Christ NOW, and in the eternal ages.
Israel had never known anything but being slaves in Egypt. They were born there. Thus, once God delivered them, and brought them out of Egypt, they were experiencing a new realm for them – this was something they had never known before. In every sense of the word, the life of Israel was on a completely new basis.
Now, this would have be true due to their freedom from slavery alone. But what made it all the more a fact was that they were now in a new relationship with God. When they were delivered by the Blood of the Lamb, and through the Red Sea, they entered into a new life. They would not, and could not, ever go back.
When you and I are born again we are no longer a member of the Adam race. We are no longer OF this world. We are, yes, a new creation in Christ, but we are a DIFFERENT creation in Christ – that is, we are of a different kind of race than what the human race can produce. We are BORN FROM ABOVE.
Can we see that this is not a matter of a human being discovering a new religion, even if it were a true religion? No. This is about dying and being born from above with a different kind of life – His life in us. Thus, all things for us are now upon the basis of Jesus Christ.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new….and all things are of God… (2 Cor 5:17-18)
This is illustrated with Israel. They were now in the wilderness – not yet in the Promised Land – but they were on a new basis. This new basis was not geographical. It was spiritual. They were in a new relationship with God.
As noted, however, none of us can possibly know how to walk in the new relationship with God. For that, you have to be made true unto God through the forming of Christ within. This is not accomplished by study, going to seminars, submitting to authority, giving money to TV ministries or church, or by keeping rules and laws. No. We have to learn Christ – and that is an inward, spiritual issue. You learn Christ by, well, growing to know the Person of Christ.
God has to teach us Christ through experience. He has to show us the Truth about ourselves -- show us the errors of our thinking and living. And He has to show us Christ as the only solution. Again – none of this can happen under the old basis of natural living. It cannot happen in Egypt. It must be done out of Egypt in the wilderness.
If you read the Exodus account, after God brought Israel out of Egypt and through the Red Sea, He immediately brought them into the wilderness. What is the wilderness? It is a place – really, a condition – where you do not have what you need, and have no way, left to yourself, of getting it. In short, God immediately brought Israel into a condition of NEED. They were in need of water -- and the first place they stopped was Marah. But the water there was bitter. God showed Moses a tree which Moses through into the bitter water. The water became drinkable. That need was supplied.
Jesus Christ is the living Vine – He is the tree of life. Thus, right from the start God began to establish principles of Truth in Israel’s experience with Himself. The wilderness is a type of life outside of Christ – it is not only the world without Christ, but it is US without Christ. That which is barren and dead can only be brought to life by the One in whom there is life.
This would be foundational. In the wilderness, Israel would be shown that they could not live from out of themselves, but had to rely upon God. For us, we have to learn that we cannot live from out of ourselves – but must by faith live from out of Christ as our life.
But we will never learn this if all we have is the academic principle, or snippet of theology. No. We have to learn it by experience with God. Thus, you will find that all through the wilderness experience – indeed, all through our experience as believers – God will allow us to be brought into need. If it is not one kind of need it is another. And what is God showing us? He is showing us the Truth about ourselves, and then, about Christ as our life.
Do we realize that our barrenness is not something God has added to us? No. It is actually our true state without Christ. Paul states clearly in the NT that, "Except Christ is in you, you are reprobate." In short, if Christ is not our life, we have no life. We are dead. Natural man has in him no life, light, or Truth. None. Many of us cannot grasp this. This is why God allows us to come into need – even as saints. He must show us the Truth.
So the first thing God did was bring Israel into need. In fact, even after the events at Marah, they continued to encounter need. They next needed FOOD. But this was not some ploy by God to force them into a relationship with Himself. No. Again, it was to show them the Truth about themselves. Have we yet learned that there is nothing in ourselves from which we can live if we want to fellowship with the Lord? Or do we still think that God’s relationship with us is based on some asset found within us through natural birth? Well, the only way to show us the Truth about ourselves – so that we might learn to live from Christ – is to be brought to need. We have to have it proven that if we are left to ourselves we are nothing.
The wilderness is a barren place that cannot sustain life. God brought them into that wilderness from Egypt. He did so to PROVE THEM – which is another way of saying that He wanted to establish IN THEM the Truth. It was a Truth that would enable them to live in the Promised Land once they got there. God is proving us today – seeking to form Christ in us. Why? So that we may live with Him forever in the eternal inheritance of Christ.
Thus, we come to the God’s provision of MANNA. The account is found in Exodus 16:
And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. (Ex. 16:1-4)
God has promised to provide for Israel in the wilderness. That is a fact. And yet, right from the start, they were faced with need. In other words, they murmured, "If God has promised to provide for us, how can He allow us to be in need?" That is a good question isn’t it? Have you ever asked it? Have you ever faced great need in your Christian experience – not imaginary, not a want – but a need? And yet God has promised to provide. How can this be?
In fact, if you examine the murmurings of Israel, they are basically saying, "We trusted you, Lord, and came out here into the wilderness. But our faith seems to have taken us from the place where we at least had food, Egypt, into this place where there is no food. How is this possible if God is faithful?"
Have you ever experienced such a thing? Before you believed God, things were fine. You had what you wanted, and maybe even what you needed. But since trusting the Lord everything has fallen apart. You are now in need. How can this be? Hasn’t God promised to provide all that we need?
Yes, He has. But everything that God has promised is subject to, and comes out of, our relationship to His Son. Thus, God will primarily adjust us to the Truth in Christ, and bring along provision as He does. It has to be this way or we will not learn Christ.
Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom and that if we did, all things would be added to us. This is not only an exhortation for us, but it is a description of the mind of God. It tells us that He is first seeking the kingdom IN US – and adding what is necessary along the way. It is the only way He works.
Thus, the answer to Israel’s need, or our need, is that God will provide. But all of His provision is intended to be the outcome of, and extension of, our relationship with Christ. Christ is our life – thus all that is necessary to life is found only in Him.
Now, if you and I don’t want to learn Christ, we don’t have to learn Him. It is entirely possible to remain a well-fed slave in Egypt. No one has ever said that if we serve mammon rather than God that it will not be profitable. There are millions of people on earth right now, some of them even profess Christ, who are living fully from out of themselves, with very little reliance upon Christ. They are successful, happy, and without much need. But they are not walking with Christ.
The question is this: Do we want to learn Christ? Do we want to come into the fullness of inheritance with Christ? Or do we want to save our lives for ourselves? Do we want to escape the trauma of the trial of your faith? The fact is, if you and I are going on with God, we are going to face challenges, needs, sufferings, and issues that we would never have to face if we won’t go on with Him. We may be happy and content. But we will be DECEIVED. And in the end, we will be left with nothing.
God is faithful and God is true. God is true even if every one of us is false – indeed, God is true TO US if every one of us is false to Him. He is saying, "I have only one purpose. It is not up for discussion. That purpose is My Son. I desire for you to enter into the fullness of Christ. But in order for this to be possible I must be true to you – I have to show you the Truth. And that Truth is that there is nothing in yourself by which you can live. Christ is the only life. I must therefore teach you this Truth by experience." Thus, God allows us to come into need so that we must see that we are nothing in ourselves, but that Christ is our life – He is our life, that is, if we want the Truth.
This is the Truth that is brought out in the wilderness – in OUR wilderness. God stated it outright in Deut. 8:
And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. (Deut. 8:2-3)
God said the purpose for allowing them to come into need – and then for feeding them with manna -- was to PROVE them, and, "to make them to know." God was, in OT fashion, teaching them the Truth.
Now notice: What was God’s answer to their need – a need that He, Himself, had allowed them to face and experience? His answer was the MANNA. Thus, we see that manna is a type of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. It really is a type of Christ Himself as our life – as the true Bread that has come down from heaven.
God said, "I will rain bread from heaven." How many see that this manna is representative of that which is given from ABOVE? It is not of this earth. Jesus also said, "I am from above. You are from below." Manna is God’s provision in the wilderness. So we see that God allowed the wilderness to bring out the Truth about their barrenness so that He could show the Truth of His provision in manna, the type of Christ.
How many realize that until God brings us to the end of our self-resources that we will never realize Christ as our only life? This is not an academic lesson. It is a moral and spiritual Truth we have to come to KNOW. We MUST see our utter and complete emptiness – we must see that this is our TRUE condition – or we aren’t going to fall on our knees and say, "By your grace Oh Lord." We just won’t. We won’t because we will not have seen the Truth. But if we don’t understand what God is doing, we are likely to murmur as did Israel. We might say, "I trust you, Lord, and now I’ve come to this need!" God would say to us, "Yes, and I’ve brought you to this need. I’ve brought you to it so that Christ alone might become your life and sustenance." That is the manna from heaven.
In the manna, God is once again establishing a foundational principle in the life of Israel, but also as an example of what He does with believers. He is saying that in our Christian journey we can expect to encounter need. But this is not because God will not provide. No. It is so that we might realize that He alone CAN provide and HAS provided in Christ. It is when we encounter need – whether it be material or spiritual – that we have the opportunity to more deeply experience Christ as our life. In short, God has created the need so that we might eat the manna – the true Bread who is Christ.
It is significant that each day manna was given – but ONLY for that day. This not only shows God’s unending and ever-present provision through Christ, but it also shows that what God gives us in Christ does NOT belong to us. We cannot hoard the things of God. We cannot use what God gives for our own purposes. The minute we do anything with manna except God’s will – internalize or eat it – it rots. God has freely given us all things in Christ. But try to use what God has given for even the religious purposes of man and it will turn rotten. No. Grace and TRUTH came through Christ. Try to use that which is of grace outside of Truth and you will produce something which spiritually stinks.
It is possible to turn the grace of God into license, but the moment I do, I am outside of the grace of God. I now possess rotten manna. It is also possible to try to use the things of God for my own agenda, such as using the gospel to make money. But the moment I do this I am not eating the manna – I am trying to sell it to others. It will rot. It will produce CORRUPTION. This is not maybe. It is an absolute fact illustrated by the very principles of Truth laid down by God from the start.
Jesus Christ is the true bread that has come down from heaven – He is the only living Bread that can provide life in what is otherwise wilderness experience. But we have to LEARN CHRIST as our living Bread. The only way to do this is to be brought into need. Then we will either turn to God or desire to go back to Egypt.
God’s instructions for gathering the manna each day carried the stipulation that there would be no manna on the ground on the Sabbath. In fact, God provided twice as much on Friday – and through this day only would the manna last so that it could be eaten on the Sabbath. There is great Truth being illustrated here.
First of all, it was not necessary for God to withhold the manna on the Sabbath. To provide manna on that day, and to allow Israel to gather it, would not have broken the Sabbath – for they did have to eat, and did prepare food to a certain degree on the Sabbath anyways. Besides, He is God. He can do what He pleases. But instead, we see that God made the principle of manna subservient to the principle of the Sabbath day. To put it another way, God allowed the Sabbath day to be preeminent. The giving of the manna worked around that. What does this show us?
The Sabbath day today is a Person – and all that is in Him. The Sabbath day was a type and shadow of God finished work in Jesus Christ. But again – not as a day, or as merely an event – but all found in the Person of Christ. And what is the result of the finished work of Christ? The GRACE of God. All is freely given IN Christ – and because of the cost Christ paid. Therefore, what the Sabbath represents is the foundation of all else – Christ in His finished work is the foundation of all, including God’s grace. Thus, God could not picture the manna overriding the Sabbath. No. He could not picture the manna taking precedence over the Sabbath. Rather, the Sabbath took prominence over the manna – because this alone illustrates that grace and Truth are found, and given in, CHRIST. God is illustrating that grace is the result of, and found in, the Person of His Son.
If you and I try to appropriate the grace of God in a way that violates the Truth of Jesus Christ, we are, in effect, breaking the spiritual Sabbath – we are living from ourselves; doing our own works. But if we are founded upon the Truth of Jesus Christ and walking in Him, then this will keep us fully within the grace of God. The Truth will always keep us in grace. That is because there is NO other Truth. Again – grace and Truth are in Christ. You cannot be walking in one and not the other. To walk in the Light as He is in the Light is to walk in grace.
This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. (Ex. 16:16-18)
For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack. (2 Cor. 8:13-15)
The principle of the manna, which is the principle of grace, is that there is exactly what is needed to meet the need. This required faith on a daily basis. But don’t think of this so much as STUFF, or amounts. Think of it as a PERSON. You cannot hoard Christ. You cannot save Him up for the next day. Neither can you gather Him and use Him for your own agenda. No. Our walk with Him is a continual fellowship. We abide in the Vine. And none of this works except it be for God’s will and purpose.
We see this illustrated in that God provided exactly what was needed each day, virtually to the man. In fact, what is written above in Exodus seems to indicate that no matter how much they gathered, it ended up being exactly what was needed – no more and no less. If you gathered too much, you had none left over. If you gather too little, somehow it became enough.
We are not told the practicalities of how this worked out. It could have actually been a miracle built into the manna. Or those who had more may have given to those who had not gathered enough. We don’t know. But the principle is there – exactly what was needed was provided. Nothing more and nothing less.
Again we see grace. If we are living in Christ, and living from out of Him, we cannot gather too much – in the sense that we would be able to then use it for our own agenda. No. There is only enough for LIFE. There is nothing we can gather and possess or use as our own. Self is out of the picture. Likewise, if you are living from Him, it is not a matter of you not doing enough – because HE is enough. We are being shown that to abide in Christ and to feed from Him as our life is going to meet every need – our efforts to get more of Christ through our own efforts, or our failure to get more of Him, through our failures, is not in the picture. He is the source for all – and this is not dependent upon, "he who gathers."
It is remarkable that Paul would quote this verse is writing to the Corinthians about giving and receiving. But he does. Aside from the material application, which is another arena, can we see that what God has given to His body is exactly enough for the good of ALL? And that none of it belongs to us to use otherwise?
Of course, the reason the Body of Christ is spiritually sick today is that people DO use what God provides for themselves, and for wrong purposes. But God’s Truth is clearly stated: If the Body of Christ had God’s purpose as our purpose, then by the grace of God, everyone would have exactly what they needed in Christ. There would be no heresy, no ignorance, and no need in a spiritual wilderness. The blame here lies with those who have been given something from God. It is not with God.
Can you imagine if some of the children of Israel gathered so much manna that there was not enough for everyone – and then they tried to sell it to those who lacked? Can you imagine if some of them tried to sell FAKE manna? But this is Christianity today. And it is an abomination to God.
Grace and Truth
God established Israel upon the principle of manna in the wilderness right from the beginning of their journey with Him. He continually showed them the Truth of their need, but continually met that need by His grace – He teaches us Christ the same way as believers. But why? Not as a religious exercise. We are to learn Christ so that we might live in Christ forever.
God never intended Israel to live forever in the wilderness. No. He wanted them to enter, "the rest," by faith. He wanted them to enter into their inheritance by faith. This was their destination. It is also ours. All of these things are written as examples for us in type and shadow so that we must ultimately live in Christ forever throughout the eternal ages. The basis of life in Christ is grace and Truth.
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