While traveling in the Negev (southern Israel) our teacher took us on a “wee little walk”. Because we had been with her for over two weeks our small group knew exactly what that meant! Something hot and rocky and long and treacherous. But we also knew that this “wee little walk” would reveal sights we had never seen before and God would reveal a deeper level of His word to us as we struggled along.
The Negev in late June can be a deadly place. We had to carry lots of water and arm ourselves with inner fortitude. We hiked the bed of a tall crevasse with a wall of rock on either side of us. The road we hiked was certainly the one less traveled, full of large rocks and boulders and a small path that had been worn by hikers before us.
The Negev was a great classroom to learn many things about God and His word. I can only imagine what the walls of rocks had heard over the years from our amazing teacher.
The rock formations were stark and yet so incredibly beautiful! The long, variegated bands of sedimentary rock created over time and the movement of the earth. Beautiful, breathtaking and daunting!
One layer of the face of the crevasse stuck out. Not light in color like the rest of the sediment layers, but a back line running horizontally through it. Like someone had taken a paintbrush and painted black stripes here and there on the rock.
It was here in the Negev that I learn a beautiful truth about Jesus as He…
“RESOLUTELY SET HIS FACE TO GO TO JERUSALEM”. Luke 9:51
Jesus’ three and one half year ministry was coming to a close. He knew His “time had come”, a phrase used often in the book of John to describe His going back to the Father in glory.
Jesus knew the reason for coming to earth. His primary ministry was not to teach or to be a Rabi. Not even to heal. The reason Jesus came to planet earth was to die! To die a violent and unjust death as prophesied in the Old Testament. And to carry the world’s burden of sin on His sinless Self.
His ministry was to die in my place and your place for our sins and save us from an eternity separated from God in Hell.
So what does that have to do with rocks in the Negev?
Jesus, as He finished His ministry in the Galilee knew that His destiny lay in Jerusalem.
AND IT CAME ABOUT IN WHEN THE DAYS WERE APPROACHING FOR HIS ASCENSION, THAT HE RESOLUTELY SET HIS FACE TO GO TO JERUSALEM. Luke 9:51
Jesus was under no compulsion to go to Jerusalem to die for us. It was His own choice!
Isaiah 50:7 prophesize the resolute nature of Jesus to face the cross and obtain the glory set before Him…
FOR THE LORD GOD HELPS ME, THEREFORE, I AM NOT DISGRACED; THEREFORE, I HAVE SET MY FACE LIKE FLINT, AND I KNOW THAT I SHALL NOT BE ASHAMED.
Flint, the back lines running through the bone colored rock. Did you know that flint when struck by steel sparks? It is hard. Harder than the other rock that makes up the Negev we traveled through.
Jesus set his face like the flint in the walls of the Negev. So resolute and unshakable to get to Jerusalem to complete His true mission on earth. The passion and cross and then the glory!
I often think of the Negev and the many lessons I learned there. And as Resurrection Day approaches I think about the long lines of flint layered into the rock. And I think about my resolute Savior! A Savior who set His face like flint to endure the cross for me.
And I pray…
Lord, please help me to set my face like flint towards my Savior!
This week’s memorization verse
FOR THE LORD GOD HELPS ME, THEREFORE, I AM NOT DISGRACED; THEREFORE, I HAVE SET MY FACE LIKE FLINT, AND I KNOW THAT I SHALL NOT BE ASHAMED. Isaiah 50:7