“And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:” (Exodus 13:21)
The faith to believe in God’s grace lies in understanding and believing in how God sees us.
In a previous post we mentioned the story of the Israelites’ forty year trek through the wilderness. The Bible says in First Corinthians that these things were examples to us:
“But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” (1Cor. 10:5-6)
The Bible teaches us that these things we read of in the Old Testament were not only examples for us to learn by, but they are also shadows of better things to come.
“Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.” (Heb. 8:5)
The Bible tells us that as the Israelites travelled in the wilderness; they were led by a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud that covered them by day.
“And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:” (Exo. 13:21)
Often we read that when the Israelites would sin, God would see their transgressions and the punishment of the Lord would issue forth from the pillar of fire (Num 11:1).
And yet, when Balaam prophesied concerning Israel he stated:
“He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.” (Num. 23:21)
The pre-incarnate Christ was the “king” that was among them. He was in the cloud and in the fire, beholding the sin of Israel and dealing with it on the earth.
Yet God in heaven was looking down upon Israel, and looking through the cloud (through Christ), He beheld no iniquity.
This was the type and shadow of our relationship with God today. The Bible teaches us that in this world, there is a result of sin:
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Gal. 6:7-8)
If a Christian commits a crime, he could go to prison. If a Christian smokes, he might get cancer. If a Christian makes foolish financial judgments, he might go bankrupt.
In this life, there are results for the decisions we make, both good and bad. However, when we repent of our sins and are cleansed by the blood of Christ, God looking from heaven looks through the blood and:
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isa. 1:18)
I had often thought that if sin had a color, that it should be black. I could not understand why God referred to sin as red.
Then one day, as I was preparing to preach as a visiting evangelist, I had gone early into the Church Sanctuary to study before service. This particular Church had red stained glass windows.
As I sat next to the window and opened my Bible to the New Testament, I noticed that the words of Christ in red had disappeared and there was a white blank where they should be. The sunlight shining through the red glass had cancelled out the red words printed in my Bible. Red cancels out red.
In the Old Testament, God looking through the cloud beheld no iniquity in Israel. In the New Testament, God looking down through the red blood of Jesus that covers your red sin beholds no sin or iniquity in you.
This is the position of grace.
It is the unmerited favor of God, earned by Christ through the shedding of His blood. It has nothing to do with how many times you have succeeded or how many times you have failed.
This is the same grace for all who have accepted Christ and are walking after the Spirit and not after the flesh.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1)
But God will give “grace for grace”.