Water Turned to Blood
This was the first of ten plagues brought upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians for the deliverance of Israel from their bondage. It was an act of judgment upon the Egyptians; but it was an act of great mercy upon Israel. It is a grave mistake to look upon these plagues as mere displays of divine power. These things were performed by our God and recorded in the Book of God by divine inspiration “for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
Place of Confrontation
We should not fail to notice the place at which the Lord God commanded Moses to confront Pharaoh. In verse 15 he told Moses to take his rod and meet Pharaoh at the Nile River. That is significant. ─ Eighty years earlier another Pharaoh’s daughter had come down to that same river to bathe herself, only to find a helpless baby God would have her to protect and raise as her own, that he might deliver Israel at his appointed time. When I think of that fact, Revelation 12 comes to my mind.
Moses and Christ
There is an obvious and striking contrast between this first plague performed by Moses, and the first miracle performed by the Lord Jesus, illustrating the fact that “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). What a difference there is between the law that Moses represents and the grace that comes to sinners by Christ! All that the law brings is death. Thus Moses turned water into blood, killing everything that was in the water. But Christ brings grace to our needy souls, grace that gives life to the dead and floods our hearts with joy. Grace and truth, like wine, make the heart glad. So the first miracle by which our Savior began to show forth his glory was turning water into wine (John 2:1-11).
The message God sent Moses to deliver was clear (vv. 16-18). There was no offer of mercy, no appeal was made to Pharaoh, no indication of grace was given, and no compromise was offered, just a plain command and a stark declaration of what God was about to do. Death was about to fall upon Egypt.
This first plague is highly instructive (vv. 19-21). Water was changed to blood. These two great elements of creation are essential to life. But here Moses turned both into a curse, a deadly mixture by divine appointment. What a curse this was! What a terrible picture of divine judgment. When blood is where water ought to be, or water is where blood is supposed to be, death is at hand. The man with dropsy (Luke 14:2) was dying because he had excessive fluid in his limbs, which was an outward indication of a serious heart disease. Death was imminent had it not been for the intervention of divine power.
There are spiritual lessons to be drawn from this. As you know, in the Word of God blood speaks of life and death. It specifically refers to the sin-atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. By the shedding of his blood, he poured out his life in death that he might give us life by his grace. Water is used in Scripture to represent the regenerating, sanctifying work of God the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39).
Multitudes make the deadly mistake of either putting the blood of Christ where God has put the work of the Spirit, or of putting the work of the Spirit where God has put the blood of Christ. In doing so they attempt to nullify both the sin-atoning work of Christ and the regenerating work of God the Holy Spirit. The fact is, both the work of Christ for us as our Redeemer, and the work of God the Holy Spirit in us in the new birth are vital. We must be redeemed; and we must be born again. Our sins must be put away; and we must be given a new nature.
Sinners are saved by the works of the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:3-14). None are saved without, or apart from the work of God the Father in eternity. But the eternal election and predestination of God the Father is not all that is necessary for our salvation. The redemptive work of Christ at Calvary and the life giving operations of God the Holy Spirit are just as essential to our salvation as the eternal purpose of God the Father in predestination. We must be saved by blood and by water. Neither the blood (the death of Christ) alone, nor the water (the gift of life by the Spirit) alone can save us. We must have both.
Blood not Enough
We were redeemed, justified, and sanctified when Christ died in our place at Calvary. When he cried, “It is finished,” redemption’s work was done. Sin was put away. Righteousness was brought in. Atonement was made. The redemption of our souls was accomplished. The sovereign, eternal purpose of God the Father is not enough to save anyone. Blood must be shed. Christ had to die, for “without shedding of blood is no remission.”
Still, something else is required. The precious blood of Christ is not enough to make us “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” If we are saved, if we are to enter into heaven’s eternal glory, something else is necessary, just as necessary as the work of the Father and the work of the Son. — We must be saved by the blessed work of God the Holy Spirit in the experience of grace (Titus 3:5-7).
It is the experience of grace that gives the sinner hope before God. God’s purpose made the salvation of his elect sure, but gives hope to no one. Christ’s death upon the cross is the singular basis of the sinner’s hope, but gives hope to none. It is not Christ dying in your place that gives hope, but “Christ in you,” formed in you by God the Holy Spirit in the experience of grace, that God says “is the hope of glory.”
In the new birth we are made new creatures in Christ, made “partakers of the divine nature.” God the Holy Spirit creates in us a new life. He gives chosen, redeemed sinners an entirely new nature, forms Christ in us, puts righteousness in us, makes us righteous, pure and holy, puts in us a spirit in which there is no guile, and makes us “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light”. This new man is “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. — This is that “holiness” we must have, “without it no man shall see the Lord.” It is written, “There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
It takes both the precious blood of Christ and the water (grace) of the Spirit to bring us to glory.
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