Two days ago I planted grass seed in the bare spots on my lawn because the grass died late last summer due to lack of rain. Today it’s raining. I know that grass will grow like it did last year when I planted it in those bare spots because the same thing had happened the previous summer. This year, if it’s another dry summer, I’m going to water those areas prone to dry out so that the grass doesn’t die.
The gospel works in the same way. God said through Isaiah:
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (55:10-11)
God’s message will always accomplish what God sent it to do. It may be to rouse repentance, causing sorrow over sin. It may be to comfort your conscience, bringing renewed hope and joy. The fruit of faith will grow when the Water of Life is applied.
There are times in life when there are dry spells, when we know we need the Water of Life so that faith doesn’t dry up and die. Perhaps it’s when there will be times of temptation. Perhaps it’s during a time of separation from church where the Water of Life is poured out abundantly through Word and Sacrament. Perhaps it’s now. You are not bearing the fruit of the gospel (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – Galatians 5:22-23) because you are not being watered with the gospel. Be careful that your faith doesn’t dry up from lack of Water!
Open the Word at home, get to church to receive an abundance of God’s gifts found in no other setting – sermon and sacraments. Your faith will grow! You have God’s promise on it. Just get the Water so that the seed can grow.
+ Pr. Jim Schulz
“Is the Lord among us or not?” is the question the people of Israel asked early in their wilderness wandering. Moses tells us in Exodus 17 that because there was no water to drink the people grumbled against him and so tested God’s promise to sustain them, a promise he had just made by raining down manna from heaven. How fickle their faith!
How fickle is our faith! When we grow tired and weary from our journey through life, we ask, “Is the Lord among us or not?” Even though hindsight would confirm that God is indeed good at keeping his promise to provide, we still grumble and complain. Open your eyes to the gospel of how God provided water for the Israelites and so provides what you need for your faith.
God told Moses to go ahead of the people and with his staff – the symbol of his authority as God’s chosen representative, the same staff he used to strike the river Nile to provide a rescue route from the pursuing Egyptian army – strike the rock at Horeb and water will gush out. Moses obeyed and water gushed forth from the rock to sustain both people and livestock.
This event is a picture of how God provides us with what we need for spiritual life. Moses would later sing a song which identifies God as the Rock (Dt. 32). St. Paul said the Rock was Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:4). The church father Ambrose therefore said for our encouragement: “For them water flowed from the rock, for you Blood flowed from Christ; water satisfied them for a time, the Blood satiates you for eternity… You after drinking will be beyond the power of thirsting; that was in a shadow, this is in truth.”
How wonderful that God provides all that we need from the flowing flood of Jesus blood, the never-ending source of strength for our faith life. What this means for us is summarized well by Luther: “Faith is the prerequisite before everything. If one has faith, all other things gush forth from it, like water from the rock and stone.” See how the Rock provides and believe.
Is the Lord with us or not? God plainly showed the people of Israel that he certainly was by providing water from the rock. God shows us that he is certainly with us when the Water of Life flows from the Rock, which is Jesus, whose blood flows through to us through his Word and Sacrament to strengthen and enliven our faith.
+ Pr. Jim Schulz