Dec 11, 2010
Beating The Rock
There’s a story in the Old Testament where Moses and the newly liberated Israelites are fresh in the wilderness just after having escaped the Egyptian army through the Red Sea. The Israelites are thirsty and immediately they start complaining. God tells Moses to take his
staff and strike this rock in the middle of the desert and water would flow from it. Moses obeys, and water springs forth; enough to quench the thirst of over a million people and their animals.
Later on, the Israelites find themselves right back in the very same place and in great need of water. Like clock-work the people begin complaining and Moses goes to God for answers. God brings Moses back to the same rock as before, but this time He tells Moses to take the staff, gather the assembly together, and SPEAK to the rock before their eyes instead of striking it.
Moses, in his anger and frustration at the faithlessness of the people, gathers the assembly together in front of the rock, takes his staff, and strikes the rock two times rather then speaking to it as God had comanded. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
Moses pays a great price for this little episode. God takes from Moses the honor of being the guy who gets to lead the people into the Promise Land. He was only allowed to stand upon a mountain and see this land from a distance, but he couldn’t personally lead the people into it.
For the first ten years of my Christian walk I shook my head at this story. It didn’t seem fair. In fact, it angered me because Moses was the most obedient guy in the bible, and God held him back from entering the Promised Land for something as stupid as this. The punishment just didn’t fit the crime in my opinio n. If THIS is what it takes for God to strip His promises away from us, I thought; then we’re ALL screwed. I eat this kind of disobedience for breakfast. Moses made this one little mistake after giving his entire life to God, and the Lord takes away the very thing Moses worked his entire life for. So much for the word “PROMISE.” What’s up with that anyway? What kind of a God would PROMISE you something and then not give it to you for getting pissed off at the same people God Himself wanted to wipe off the face of the earth just one book earlier??
You’d think that God would be even more understanding with Moses when it came to being upset with these particular people. Moses does something as simple as striking a rock instead of speaking to it and God takes everything away from him in an instant?
Years later, as I began to know the true Heart of God for relationship, this story took on a completely different meaning for me. I began to see the purpose of the two incidents being recorded in Scripture and what was really taking place in this story.
The first time the people needed water, God told Moses to take his staff and strike the rock in front of the Israelites. This is a picture of Christ being stricken. It’s also a picture of LAW. Moses is given exact directions on how to get the water and he follows them to a “T”. It’s almost caveman like. He strikes the rock with the same magic wand he struck the Nile with, and water gloriously springs forth. All he’s got to do is follow the formula and the magic happens. It’s heartless. It’s mindless. Even a monkey could do it.
The next time around however, God instructed Moses to SPEAK TO THE ROCK. This is an entirely new covenant!!!!! This is a picture of the very essence of the New Covenant. It’s a picture of RELATIONSHIP. Can you see how this story goes from following rules and formulas to trusting in intimacy? Scripture later explains that this “Rock” was Christ, or a picture of Christ. He need not be stricken twice. He was crucified once, for all mankind. It is not rules and regulations that bring us closer to God at this point; it’s simply believing and trusting.
The reason why this is such a devastating story is because Moses insisted on doing things THE OLD WAY. He was presented with the quintessential spirit of the Promise, and he rejected it in front of the very people he was supposedly leading towards it. The lesson learned here is NOT that Moses should have obeyed God’s instructions, but that NO ONE can enter into the New Covenant realm through Old Covenant formulas. You cannot have it both ways.
The Promised Land wasn’t withheld from Moses because he disobeyed God. It was withheld because he embraced law-mindedness over intimacy. His “Believe” was put in the wrong thing. In fact, the Promised Land or the “Kingdom realm” is hidden from anyone who rejects its essence and relies on law to find it. It remains invisible to the man who attempts to obtain it through obedience, ritual, or formula. In fact, the law itself becomes the blinders that make such a person stumble around in darkness, unable to behold the Kingdom. Paul once said that, “... for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.” (2 Co 3:14-15)
Whether we want to admit to this or not, the sad fact is that modern day Christianity HAS subscribed to Old Testament beliefs and because of it, we have not witnessed a damn thing! This is precisely why the vast majority of Christians in every denomination DON’T WITNESS. It’s not because they don’t care and they don’t want the Gospel message spread to the ends of the earth. People are not witnessing BECAUSE THEY HAVEN’T WITNESSED ANYTHING!!!!
In essence, God was saying to Moses, “Put down the stick.” It’s time to lay down your little sacred tools and start trusting in something entirely from the heart; RELATIONSHIP. This must have been a difficult request for Moses. He had come to rely on his staff. He had come to believe in all the tools, objects, and utensils that he personally supervised while they were being overlaid with gold and silver. We always associate the Pharisees with those who loved and relied on the law, but remember it was Moses who actually wrote it. The Pharisees even referred to the law as, “The law of Moses.” Imagine how difficult crossing over from the Old to the New must have been for Moses.
In this particular Testament-Taste-Test, Moses favored the Old wine over the New. He was the first in a long line of people who would make the very same choice. Christ Himself said, “No one after drinking Old (Testament) wine wants the New (Testament), for they say, “the old is better.” This was true for Moses and it’s true for most of modern day Christianity.
Sadly, the very heart of this story with Moses is being played out week after week in churches throughout America and the rest of the world; and just like Moses and the Israelites of his time, I see millions of frustrated Christians with their staff in hand, striking this rock, and that for all they’re worth trying to get a drink of water. They’re dying in the wilderness without getting so much as a glimpse of the Kingdom that was promised to them. Our leaders lead us towards it, and even right up to its edge, but they themselves never enter because they choose the old over the new.
Sadly, because Christianity today does not want to give up Old Testament thinking, we have done our best to weave both covenants together in a way that makes them void each other out completely. We’re safe, and then we’re not safe. We’re loved, and then we’re not loved. Salvation is free in one moment, and then in the next it’s not. We’re forgiven, and then we’re not. We’re paid for, and then we’re in debt. We’re not under law, and then we are. God will never leave us, and then He does. We’re set free, and then we’re caged again. We’re given a guarantee of what is to come, and then we’re told there’s no guarantee. It’s all free, and then we’re charged for it.
Christianity has become a deadly roller coaster of contradictions and confusion at every turn. We take people to the top, give them just a glimpse of the Kingdom, and then we go into a nose-dive into a world of fear, insecurity, confusion, and condemnation, followed by a series of loops and turns that actually make you believe you’re going somewhere. The problem is that when the ride is over, you’re right back where you started, and there’s a guy ushering you off the ride and pointing towards the exit sign until next week.
This is a picture of what happens when we refuse to let go of the Old Testament and fully embrace the New. We simply cannot have it both ways. It’s like watching a guy get married, but still maintain a “single-man” mentality in his heart. He destroys himself, his wife, and their children. Marriage only works when you give yourself over to it fully and let go of the single life forever. The difference between Old Testament and New Testament is that now God is married to us. Though HE has not changed from one covenant to the next, THINGS have changed. The intimacy that He desires to share with us now, is a thousand times greater than it was then. There’s NO room for the Old covenant in our hearts anymore because we're married now. In the Old Testament, we dated Him. He kissed us good night at the end of of the date, and we waited until the next time He showed up. Today, He lives inside of us. We sleep together and are ONE in every respect. To intentionally bring back the Old Way is a betrayal to the very heart of what we have with Him now.
The more I speak with Christians from all over the world, the more convinced I’ve become that this generation has absolutely no idea what was accomplished on the cross. I think people are trained to just say, “Jesus died for our sins” without having any depth of understanding beyond that. Amazingly, I’ve found that even pastors and teachers are almost completely ignorant of the changes that have taken place because of the death and resurrection of Christ.
I honestly believe that this is more than just a theological misunderstanding.
There is something hypnotizing and alluring about the law. Pastors literally get a high when they go through Old Testament passages concerning the temple rituals and the law. They’ll memorize the priestly procedures and go over and over them in their mind like an obsessive compulsive person. Even the mere mention of grace sets them off and causes an inner panic. They despise the freedom brought on through the cross because it threatens to strip away the very thing that we humans are addicted to - CONTROL.
Every area of a modern day Christian’s life is so saturated with Old Covenant residue that I honestly wonder if Christians today would even choose a New Testament relationship if it were offered to them point blank. Most Christians have no comprehension of what that
Most of us have been raised in a world where Old Testament thinking is the dominant mindset. Every single principle in Christianity has been poisoned with this thinking.
When we worship, we believe that God shows up because we’re told, “He inhabits the praises of His people,” so we do our best to lift Him up so He’ll show up. When we pray, we do so with a God-is-not-IN-us mentality. We throw out fleeces, pray the prayer of Jabez, and listen for an audible voice from the sky like Moses did. We even focus our eyes on the upper right-hand corner of our bedroom as though He’s somewhere out there looking down on us.
When we give, we sit around and wait to receive something back because we’ve been taught if we give freely, we will receive freely. We read our bibles because we think we’re still in the same predicament as King David was thousands of years before Christ. We think we have to meditate on it night and day or we won’t ever know God. We even refer to our bible as “The Word” as though the Word never became flesh and dwelt among us. We go to church thinking we’re still in the Old Testament Era when God’s temple was a tent or a building that people come to in order to meet with Him. Rather than embrace that WE are now the temple of God, we prefer it the old way. When we do show up to church, we do so with the same Old Testament mindset that people had in Moses’ day. We wait for our leader to go to the mountain top and get the revelation from God for us. Rather than know and hear God as individuals, we have traded New Covenant intimacy for the way it was before Christ.
Several years before I ultimately resigned from being a pastor, our church took part in the National Day of Prayer. This is a time when all denominations come together and set aside our differences just to ban together and pray for our nation. The key verse for this particular event was 2 Chronicles 7:14
“ If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
This bible passage was plastered on billboards, canopies, brochures, and flyers all over the city. This passage completely negates the cross! It puts us right back in the pre-Christ time period when everything was based on works and law. Amazingly, I don’t recall one single Christian in my group of almost thirteen-thousand saying a single word about this. They all bought it hook-line-and-sinker. Today’s Church has eliminated the works of Christ altogether. Is it any wonder why we show up to these events with our staff in hand, striking any rock within reaching distance in an effort to get just a drop of water? We are a generation of women at the well who politely refuse Christ’s offer to give us living water that will spring up within us. We don’t want that. We like drawing water every day because It puts us in control.
I honestly believe that the only difference between the Old Testament lifestyle and modern day Christianity is that today, we don’t sacrifice bulls and goats. There is no doubt in my mind that if given the opportunity, many churches would go as far as to resurrect the whole sacrificial system again. According to the theology of a great number of Christian people today, the only ones who benefited from the death of Christ where the cattle and the sheep. Because of what Christ did, they get to live. We no longer sacrifice them, but other than that; NOTHING else has changed.
This mentality is what I referred to in my book, The Misunderstood God as an “Anti-Christ mentality.” At any point where we hold to Old Testament principles, we are embracing an Anti-Christ position. We are rejecting what was accomplished through Christ on our behalf. Our religion proudly proclaims the death of Christ on the cross, but we routinely deny the resurrection. Oh, don’t get me wrong; we pay it lip-service, but when it comes to what we teach and preach every week; we don’t believe a word of it.
We are infatuated, enthralled, enchanted, enamored, and hopelessly in love with Old Testament thinking. At the risk of sounding offensive or off color, I want to define exactly what the spirit behind modern day Christianity’s obsession with the Old Covenant is all about. This generation detests intimacy and prefers to do things manually. They actually enjoy “beating the rock” if you will. It’s SO MUCH EASIER than having to actually have relationship and involve another person. The “manual” way gives us all the control we crave, and make no mistake about it; our infatuation and attraction towards Old Testament principles, coupled with our complete disregard for the intimacy required in the New Testament relationship, is without question, a perfect picture of spiritual masturbation. It’s a way to avoid the intimacy of and become one with ourselves.
If that offends you, let it, because this is the state of Christianity. Our religion is afraid to commit to the New Covenant completely because it knows the moment it does, people will be set free and they won’t continue to serve the system. Eventually everyone gets tired of the sticks and stones game and they want something everlasting. As long as we continue to vacillate between law and grace we will never experience the spring of living water from within that Jesus spoke about. Our generation spends Sunday after Sunday beating the rock, in an effort to get another sip of something that was promised to us fully and naturally through Christ. Christ's words to the woman at the well are just as perplexing to us today as they were to the woman he was speaking to. We haven't found this water because we refuse to put our staffs down and speak to the rock!
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