Thursday, September 18, 2008

HE BROUGHT US OUT TO BRING US IN

Before the cross, there was no access to God for the general public; only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies. Now Jesus’ cross made a path for us into the Father’s presence. By his grace alone, God tore down the wall that blocked us from his presence. Now he could come out to man, to embrace his prodigals and sinners of all sorts.

Consider Israel’s miraculous deliverance. As God’s people crossed over on dry land, they saw the waves crash down on their enemy behind them. It was a glorious moment, and they held a mighty praise meeting, with dancing, singing and thanksgiving. “We’re free! God has delivered us from the hand of oppression.”

Israel’s story represents our own deliverance from the bondage and guilt of sin. We know that Satan was defeated at the cross, and we were immediately set free from his iron grip. Yet there is more to God’s purpose in saving and delivering us. You see, God never meant for Israel to camp there on the victory side of the Red Sea. His greater purpose in bringing them out of Egypt was to take them into Canaan, his land of fullness. In short, he brought them out in order to bring them in: into his heart, into his love. He wanted a people who were totally dependent on his mercy, grace and love. And the same is still true for his people today.

Israel’s first test came just a few days later, and they ended up murmuring and complaining, totally dissatisfied. Why? They had known God’s deliverance, but they hadn’t learned his great love for them.

Here is the key to this teaching: You cannot come into joy and peace—indeed, you cannot know how to serve the Lord—until you see his delight in your deliverance…until you see the joy of his heart over his communion with you…until you see that every wall has been removed at the cross…until you know that everything of your past has been judged and wiped away. God says, “I want you to move on, into fullness that awaits you in my presence!”

Multitudes today rejoice in the wonderful benefits of the cross. They have moved out of Egypt, and they are standing on the “victory side” of their Red Sea trial. They enjoy freedom, and they thank God continually for casting their oppressor into the sea. But many of these same believers miss God’s greater purpose and benefit to them. They miss why the Lord has brought them out—which is to bring them in to himself.