Athlete, Understand the Already Not Yet

*This devotional series was written by the AIA staff team at the University of Virginia

Read Exodus 15:22-17:7

The Israelites are living in the “already, not yet” stage of salvation, a term coined by George Eldon Ladd.  They have “already" been delivered out of Egypt, and their deliverance is certain after God’s decisive victory at the Red Sea, but they are "not yet" in the promised land of Canaan.  Their salvation has not been completed, or consummated.  Christians, today, can relate in many ways.  Our deliverance is certain due to Jesus’ decisive victory over sin and death, but we are not yet in the promised land of the new heavens and earth.  We are still in the wilderness, even though we are blessed to live on this side of the resurrection, with the knowledge of Christ’s greater victory and outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  (Of course, faithful Israelites now wait with us, in heaven, for the new heavens and earth.)  

Like us, the Israelites struggle with living in the “already, not yet” in the forms of doubt, disappoint, frustration, and grumbling.  God is amazingly gracious with Israel.  He does not respond in anger to their grumbling, but simply provides for them.  He makes the water sweet.  He prepares a table for them in the desert of manna and quail.  He draws water from a dry rock.  There are times when God gives them a foretaste of abundance (15:27), but generally gives them exactly what they need in the wilderness — daily bread — to satisfy their hunger and thirst.  If they take more and try to save for two days, it turns to maggots . . . except on the day before the Sabbath rest, they are able to pick up food for two days without spoilage.  Even in the wilderness, God gave them rest!  They may not have the pots of the meat that they ate in Egypt (16:3), but crumbs from the Lord’s table are better than a steaks under the feet of their oppressors.  

Questions for Reflection and Prayer

1. How does the “already, not yet” understanding help you to understand your own experience?  
2. How are you struggling “in the wilderness”?  Are you taking your doubt, disappoint, and frustration to God?  
3. Just as God meets with Israel in the wilderness and reveals his presence and goodness to them in midst of their doubt and difficult situation, He meets with us when we are in the wilderness.  Do you believe that God can meet you in the wilderness?  How do you need him to reveal his presence and goodness to you?

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