Christ's the Key to Scripture
- Part 01
- Series: Knowing God - Walking Through the Book of Books
- Date: Apr 7, 2002 | Passage: Luke 24:27-45
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Jesus gave us a vital piece of inside information as we explore the riches of God's Word. Christ's vital revelation was that He is the one unifying theme that runs through every testament, every book, every chapter, and every verse of the Bible. According to Luke 24:27, 44-45 Christ is found in "all the Scriptures."
If we want to understand the Bible, we must become "Christ trackers," who sight and mark the trail for finding Him from cover to cover. As a beginning exercise in what I mean, let's take some examples from the Book of Exodus.
Christ in Exodus
In Exodus 33:17 Christ is the One greater than the deliverer, Moses. We can also see pictures of Christ in every section of Exodus. We see Him as:
- The Burning Bush (3:1-6)
- The Passover (12:1-28)
- The Unleavened Bread (13:3-10)
- The Rock that Led Them (13:21-22)
- The Crossing of the Red Sea (14:1-31)
- The Manna (16:1-36)
- The Water from the Rock (17:1-7)
- The Tabernacle (25-40)
Let's take a moment to look at a few of these pictures of Christ in detail.
The Unleavened Bread
The unleavened bread in the New Testament is, of course, the body of our Lord.
- Christ is described as "the Bread of Life." He was born in Bethlehem, a name in Hebrew meaning "House of Bread."
- God fed the Israelites in the wilderness with manna from heaven, and He feeds the Christians in the world with the Bread of Life.
- The very piece of bread used by the Jews during this week of unleavened bread is a good picture of our Lord. Anyone who has seen the Jewish matzoh sees that it is striped ("By His stripes are we healed"), pierced ("They shall look upon me whom they've pierced"), and, of course, pure, without any leaven, as His body was without any sin.
- The Passover ceremony of breaking and burying and then resurrecting (through dipping in a sauce) a piece of this bread very obviously presents the Gospel in the midst of the modern Jewish Passover celebration. God performed this exact ceremony with the burial of Jesus, our precious piece of unleavened bread, and more importantly, He performed it on the exact day of the feast.
- Jesus was actually buried at the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread since His body was interred at sundown of Passover Day, the beginning of the fifteenth of Nisan, the first month.
The Crossing of the Red Sea
The Sunday after Passover is the Feast of Firstfruits. This feast commemorates the day Israel went down into the depths of the Red Sea and came out the other side alive. The children of Israel marched into a watery grave, and God raised them on the other bank a nation of free people. Little did they know they were also demonstrating how God would bring salvation to the entire world. The Feast of Firstfruits is a foreshadowing of the work of both Good Friday and Easter, a type of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote, "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep [the dead]" (1 Corinthians 15:20). There is no spiritual death for the believer. Though his body may die, his spirit lives on with Christ.
Exodus 16 should always be read in connection with John 6, for the manna from heaven is a type of Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life. Jesus also noted that manna illustrates the written Word of God on which God's pilgrim people feed from day to day (Matthew 4:4).
Jesus was greater than manna. When Jesus called Himself "the Living Bread," He was not claiming to be exactly like the manna; He was claiming to be even greater!
Old Testament Manna
Jesus the Bread of Life
Manna could only sustained life for the Jews . . .
. . . but Jesus offers endless life to the whole world.
Even though the Jews ate the daily manna they eventually died . . .
. . . but when you receive Jesus Christ within, you live forever.
When God gave the manna, He gave only a gift . . .
. . . but when Jesus came, He gave Himself.
There was no cost to God in sending the manna each day . . .
. . . but when He gave His Son it cost Him everything.
The Jews had to eat the manna every day . . .
. . . but the sinner who trusts Christ once is given eternal life.
Those that ate manna hungered again, died at last, and with many of them God was not well-pleased . . .
. . . but all that feed on Christ by faith shall never hunger, and shall never die, and with them God will be for ever well pleased.
Manna pictures Christ's coming. In Exodus 16:1-3 we see that manna came to a rebellious people. They murmured against Moses and against God (Exodus15:22-27). Verse 4 could well have read, "I will rain fire and brimstone upon those ungrateful sinners!" But, no, God proved His love toward them by raining bread upon them. See Rom. 5:6-8. Jesus Christ came to a lost world because God loved sinners. In Exodus 16: 4 we see manna was not from anywhere on earth, it came down from God above. Jesus Christ also came from above as the Father's gift to hungry sinners (John 6:33).
In Exodus 16:13a we see that manna arrived during the night because it was out there first thing "in the morning." Jesus Christ also came into a world that was darkened in the night of sin. It was night when Jesus was born, but He came to be the Light of the World (John 8:12). And it is still night in the hearts of all who have rejected Him (2 Corinthians 4:1-4). As Luke records, Jesus came as the sunrise on our sin blackened world: "Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1:78-79 NKJV).
In Exodus 16:13b-14 we see that manna was supernaturally unique in its origin and delivery. The picture of manna atop the dew, not touching the ground as "the dew lay . . . when the layer lifted" can remind us that Jesus Christ came to earth by a Virgin Birth that made him supernaturally unique. Numbers 11:9 implies the manna lay atop the pure dews, and the dew kept the manna from being defiled by the earth. Likewise the Virgin Birth of Jesus through the Holy Spirit brought Jesus to earth, unstained by sin (Luke 1:34-35). Had Jesus not been born of the virgin, He could never be called "that Holy One."
In Exodus 16:13c we see manna came right to where the Israelites were as if fell "all around the camp." Jesus Christ came down to earth and became one of us to save us. How easily accessible the manna was to the Jews! They did not have to climb a mountain or cross a deep river; the manna came where they were. Jesus Christ is not far away from sinners. They can come to Him at any time (see Romans 10:6-8).
Manna pictures Christ's character.
- Manna pictures Christ's humility-it was small (v. 14), while the Lord of Glory became a baby, and even a servant.
- Manna pictures Christ's eternity-it was round (v. 14), which reminds us of the circle, the symbol of His eternality; for Jesus Christ is eternal God (John 8:53-59).
- Manna pictures Christ's purity-it was white (v. 31). Christ is sinless; He is the holy Son of God.
- Manna pictures Christ's beauty-it was sweet like honey (v. 31). "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8). Note in Numbers 11:4-8 that the "mixed multitude" that went with the Jews did not appreciate the taste of the manna but asked for the "leeks, onions, and garlic" of Egypt. They were not satisfied with simple manna. They "ground it, beat it, and baked it," but then it tasted like "oil" and not like honey. There is a spiritual lesson here for us; we cannot improve upon God's plan for salvation (Psalm 119:103).
- Manna pictures Christ's availability-it was everywhere they went for 40 years! (v. 35). It was satisfying and strengthening, for the nation lived on manna for nearly forty years. All that we need for spiritual nourishment is Jesus Christ, God's heaven-sent Bread. We are to feast on the Bread that will never leave us hungering.
Manna pictures our salvation. The manna was all the food that was available to the people in the wilderness. If they did not gather it in the morning each day, they would go hungry. Similarly, Christ is only received when we see our true need of Him each day. There is a spiritual hunger within that can be satisfied only by Christ (John 6:35). It was when the Prodigal Son said, "I perish with hunger" that he decided to go back to the father and seek forgiveness (Luke 15:17-18). Much of the unrest and sin in the world today is the result of unsatisfied spiritual hunger. People are living on substitutes and rejecting the nourishment that God freely provides (Isaiah 55:1-3). Manna pictures the desperation of our situation.
Further, Christ is only received when we humbly stoop to receive Him. The manna did not fall on the tables or on the trees but on the ground, and the people had to stoop to pick it up. Many sinners will not humble themselves. They will not bend! They will not repent and turn to the Savior! Manna pictures the humility we need for salvation.
Additionally, Christ is only received when we take Jesus for ourselves. The hungry Jews were not fed by looking at the manna, admiring it, or watching others eat it; they had to pick it up and eat it for themselves. Christ must be received inwardly by faith if the sinner is to be saved. This is what Christ meant in John 6:51-58 by "eating His flesh and drinking His blood." John 6:63 makes it clear that Christ was not speaking about literal flesh and blood, and John 6:68 tells us that it was His Word that He was referring to. When we receive the Word inwardly, we are feeding on Christ, the Living Word. Too many Christians mark their Bibles and fill their notebooks with outlines, yet never really feed on Christ. The manna they gathered must not be hoarded up, but eaten; those that have received Christ must by faith live upon him, and not receive his grace in vain. There was manna enough for all, enough for each, and none had too much; so in Christ there is a complete sufficiency, and no superfluity. Manna pictures the personal need of walking with Christ everyday.
Christ is only received when we take Him while we can (v. 21). "Seek the Lord while He may be found!" is the warning of Isaiah 55:6 (NKJV). "Today if you hear His voice . . . " the writer of Hebrews exhorts. The manna disappeared when the sun became hot, and this suggests that the day of judgment will arrive when it will be too late to turn to Christ (Malachi 4). It also suggests that, as believers, we must get our spiritual nourishment from the Word early in the day as we meditate on it and pray. We must every one of us gather for ourselves, and gather in the morning of our opportunities. If we let the time slip by, it may become too late to gather. Manna pictures the immediate need for salvation.
Finally, daily feeding on God's Word is a test of our spiritual hunger. The daily gathering of the manna was God's test of Israel's obedience (v. 4), and it is still God's test for His people. Those Christians that begin their day with the Bible, gathering spiritual food, are the ones God can trust and use. Alas, many Christians still hunger for the carnal diet of the world (v. 3)! And many expect the pastor or the Sunday School teacher to gather the manna for them and "spoon-feed" them. The test of our spiritual walk is this: do I think enough of Christ and His Word to start my day gathering manna? Manna pictures the practical need of relying on God's Word after salvation.
The Water from the Rock
To understand the fullness of the water from the Rock it is often helpful to see the Jewish celebration attached to it. Since Jesus went to and participated in these celebrations it is even more imperative to know and understand why.
While water was being sold to thirsty pilgrims, as they came to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Tabernacles, our Lord stood in the Temple area and cried out, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink" (John 7:37).  To the woman from Sychar He said, "But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14).
The first real test for the children of Israel when they came out of Egypt was this very point. God had opened the waters of the Red Sea to let them out of Egypt. He then closed the same waters behind them to keep them from ever getting back into Egypt. They then sang the first song in the Bible, as they stood on the wilderness shore of the sea. Then they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. "And the people murmured against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?' " (Exodus 15:22, 24) In Egypt they could always look to the Nile. That river, the longest in the world, had provided everything that they ever needed. The ancients used to say, and rightly so, "Egypt is the gift of the Nile." But now, a mighty change ensued. These people, redeemed by blood and by power, find themselves in "the waste howling wilderness" (Deuteronomy 32:10).
Up until now, they had always looked down at the Nile. From this time on, they were to look up. Their food came down from above. Their guidance came down from above. The desert would provide nothing. All that they were to need for the journey would be met out of a gracious God's fullness. But, in spite of this, we have the record of seven times when they murmured. The fourth book of the Bible has not only been called the Book of Numbers. It has also been called by some, "the Book of Murmurs." They murmured against God, they murmured against Moses, they murmured against Aaron. To murmur means, "to mutter, to grumble, to be discontented." In answer to their question, "What shall we drink?" God gave them water from a most unlikely source-a flinty rock! And the New Testament teaches that "they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:4).
The Water from the Rock in Exodus 17 is celebrated by the Jews at the Feast of Tabernacles. This re-enactment of the Water from the Rock in Exodus 17 is known as Simcha Bet Ha-sho-evah (the Rejoicing of the House of Drawing Water).
This special ritual prophetically illustrates the time when the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon Israel. It also illustrates the truth that Jesus Christ, the Giver of living water, probably came to earth at Sukkot. So at the Feast of Tabernacles "the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us" takes on a whole new meaning! Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water. . . . Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:10, 13-14 NKJV).
We have seen Christ's ministry on the cross was vividly portrayed by the rituals surrounding Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits. There's one other image we need to get from the Temple celebrations. It is the one which commemorates the drawing of water from the rock at Horeb (Exodus 17:1-7). On the morning of the first day of the festival called Sukkot or Tabernacles, and every day thereafter, a priest carried a large golden ewer from the Temple mount down to the spring of Siloam. As he walked he was surrounded by jubilant worshipers who followed him as he drew water from the pool of Siloam.
The route back to the Temple led through the water gate, and into the inner court. There in that grand courtyard of Herod's gigantic Temple, a huge cheering crowd always waited near the altar. As the water bearing priest approached the altar, the ceremonial silver trumpets were sounded. Then would come the priests chanting the words of Isaiah: "Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation" (12:3 NKJV).
Now here is the unforgettable significance of this moment. In Isaiah 12:3 the word for "salvation" in Hebrew is Yeshua. This is exactly the same word in Hebrew we translate as Jesus. With that in mind think again of the scene. On the first through the sixth days, the priest and his joyful processional circled the altar once, but on the seventh day, they circled the altar seven times! All those times a whole group of priests are loudly affirming that with joy all were to draw water from the wells of Yeshua, Jesus!
The highlight of the ceremony occurred when the priest stood and poured the water on the altar. While the water washed away the blood of the morning's sacrifices, a long line of priests, all bearing willow branches, sang psalms of praise. The Talmud "describes this ceremony in detail, including a portrait of venerable sages juggling lighted torches and performing somersaults as part of the celebration." The experience was one of intense and total joy, so much so that the Talmud says whoever has not been in Jerusalem for this ceremony has not experienced real joy!
Now get the scene in your hearts with me: Like all devout Jewish men, Jesus attended the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. On the last day of one Sukkot festival, He stood and cried out to the crowd: "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37-38 NKJV). The apostle John goes on to explain that Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit, which had not yet been given.
Can't you just see it? Jesus and His disciples had just attended the glorious celebration inside the Temple. They had sung psalms with the priests, had perhaps followed the golden ewer of water seven times around the altar as they chanted Isaiah 12:3 "draw water from Yeshua (Jesus)." Then Jesus and His disciples watched the liquid stream over the altar, cleaning away the blood of goats and rams from the morning sacrifices. As the rustlings of a thousand palms filled the air, foreshadowing the palms that would be lifted to hail Him when He would enter Jerusalem to die at Passover, Jesus spoke in a commanding voice and explained the ritual the Jews had just witnessed.
"If any thirst let them come to me!" He was the Light of the World, the Living Water, the Word made flesh to dwell among them. He would soon be the Passover Lamb, the Bread Without Leaven, the Firstfruits. As our sinless High Priest, He would atone for sin once and for all. Hundreds in the Temple that day heard Him, but only those with understanding believed. Do you? God promised: "For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring" (Isaiah 44:3 NKJV).
Pictures of Christian Life in the Sequence of Exodus 15-18
To conclude our look at the pictures of Christ in Exodus, let's shift our focus to Exodus 15-18, which records Seven experiences the Israelites had that correspond to our Christian experience.
1. This life is a struggle: The Wilderness of Shur was the spot of the Song of the Redeemed (15:1-22). This setting reminds us that we aren't promised a bed of roses after our salvation. We will all continue to go through wilderness times.
2. Christ is our hope: At Marah, the bitter water was sweetened by a tree (15:23-26), which reminds us that Christ's cross sweetens the bitter experiences of life with the hope of His presence, His Peace, and His Plan.
3. Christ makes us fruitful: The Oasis at Elim (15:27) with 12 wells and 70 palms reminds us of the promises He gives of a Fruitful Christian life.
4. Christ satisfies us: In the Wilderness of Sin the people were provided manna and quail (16:1-36), which remind us that Christ is the Bread of Life who provides all we need.
5. Christ died once for our sins: The Smitten Rock of Rephadim (17:1-7) reminds us that "that Rock Was Christ" and He was only to be smitten once (1 Corinthians 10:4).
6. We are His soldiers: The fight with Amalek is a picture of our war with the flesh (17:8-16) and the victory is the Lord's, coming only by His weapons, especially prayer (Deuteronomy 25:17-18).
7. His Word is our guide: In the scene with Jethro, Priest of Midian (18) we see the value of God's wisdom revealed over the emptiness of the wisdom of this world. We now have that wisdom in His Word.
 Zola Levitt, The Seven Feasts of Israel (Dallas: Great Impressions Printing and Graphics, 1979), pp. 5-6.
 The manna points are adapted from Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the Old Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1997).
 This chart was made reflecting comments drawn from Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997).
 Roy Gustafson, In His Land Seeing Is Believing. (Minneapolis, MN: World Wide Publications, 1980), pp. 107-109.
 John Hagee, His Glory Revealed (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), p. 151-155.
 Edward Chumney, "Sukkot: The Feast of the Tabernacles," The Seven Feasts of the Messiah (n.p.: Treasure House, 1994), 163-96.
 Drawn from J. Vernon McGee, Exodus (Chapters 1-18) (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991).