Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10: 3-4 that “[Israel] all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”
The first time we hear about that rock is in Exodus 17. The people are grumbling – something they do a lot. They want water.
So God tells Moses
Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink. Exodus 17:6 (NASB)
The people are not punished, although they tested God and grumbled against God and His servant.
Instead, the Rock, on which God stands, is struck. The God-rock, when struck, brings forth lifesaving water. Paul points out that the rock is a shadow of Christ, who was struck in our place, who gives us living waters when we deserve punishment.
Moses names this place Massah for “testing” and Meribah for “quarreling.”
We are back at the rock in Numbers 20. The scene is similar – the people grumble because their needs aren’t met. Only this time, God tells Moses to speak to the rock “that it may yield its water.” (vs. 8)
Instead, Moses in his anger says, ““Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” (vs. 11). Then Moses strikes the rock twice… and water gushes out.
… the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” (vs. 12)
I always thought this a rather stiff punishment for Moses’ rather understandable fit of pique. But when I thought about the fact that the rock was a type of Christ, it made more sense.
Jesus only had to die once. The rock only had to be struck once.
When Moses hit the rock again, it was like punishing Jesus again, suggesting that once wasn’t enough. Moses didn’t believe God had taken care of the people’s needs through the rock the first time around. Moses only needed faith, a word of faith. He didn’t need to do anything more.
And Moses in his anger took credit for the miracle when he said, “…shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” We don’t work for our living water; it’s a gift. It’s God’s miracle.
So, Moses failed to treat Jesus as Holy. He stepped in as Savior in his anger. And he did not recognize that God completed his work the first time around.
There is only one Savior and one Cross – Jesus’ work was sufficient.
Our job is simply to ask and to receive the living waters He promises, knowing that we will not receive the punishment we grumbling children deserve. because He was struck once for us.
Today’s Readings: Numbers 19:1-20:29, Psalm 33:10-5, Proverbs 11:22-23, Mark 12:1-27. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts.