Sunday, 28 September 2014
…and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:4
So far in just three verses, Paul has shown the great amount of spiritual connection between the exodus and wilderness wanderings and their correlation to Christ. He has shown that the cloud and the sea pictured being baptized into Moses, meaning the Law given by the Lord. He has also shown that the manna they ate was “spiritual food.” Now he shows that even the water they drank was a spiritual picture of Christ because they “all drank the same spiritual drink.”
One cannot live long without water. God intended this to show that just as we cannot live without water, so we cannot live without being spiritually connected to Him through Christ. We are either dead in sins and trespasses, having inherited Adam’s fallen nature, or we are born again through Christ. To show us that this was pictured in the exodus account, he says, “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.”
The people of Israel twice drank directly from water which issued from a rock. The first time was in Exodus 17:1-6 in a place called Rephidim (meaning “resting places”) which was their 11th stop while traveling. The second is recorded in Numbers 20:1-11 at a place called Kadesh (meaning “holy”). This was their 33rd recorded stop. After they received the water, the places were renamed “Meribah,” which means “strife” or “contention” because the people strived with the Lord over the water.
Paul says that in these places “they drank of that spiritual Rock which followed them.” There is a Jewish tradition that the rock literally followed them wherever they went. This is not the intent of Paul’s words. Rather, the idea of “following” them is that wherever they were, Christ was present. They contended with the Lord, claiming that He had left them to die, but then the Lord, through Moses, showed them that He was always there, ready to provide. This is the intent of saying that the Rock “followed them.”
This Rock is then said explicitly to be Christ by Paul. In other words, the natural rock is merely a metaphor which is then left completely out of the true picture. If there was one rock in Rephidim and one rock in Kadesh and both gave water, then the Rock is a picture of Christ. If this is so, then it isn’t just the rock either, but the water which issued from the rock which is also the intended symbol. As it says, “they drank ‘of’ that spiritual Rock.”
Understanding this, the rest of the Bible in both testaments uses the terms “rock” and “water” to describe the Lord. The rock is the unmovable foundation upon which our faith is grounded, such as in the parable of building one’s house upon the rock in Matthew 7. The water is the water of life seen in John 4, John 7, Revelation 22, and elsewhere. The account from John 4 is both memorable and explicit –
“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.'” John 4:13, 14
Life application: When reading the Bible, one should attempt to remember things that are mentioned and see if later comparisons are made. Rocks, water, harvesters, the wind, trees, numbers, milk, types of grain, different types of work, and on and on. All of them having meaning and nothing is arbitrary. Each will give us insights into Christ, into God’s plan of redemptive history, and teach us moral lessons as well. Nothing is superfluous and nothing is left out. The Bible is an amazingly beautiful compilation of words which all form to show us God’s love for us. And it is all centered on the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
Lord God, I know that whatever I read or study will be absorbed into my collective memory and mold me in some way. As this is certain, I will endeavor to read, contemplate, and absorb Your word above all else. As it reveals Your very heart for me, then obviously I will be molded more and more into Your image as I learn and apply it to my life. Thank You for this wondrous gift which will allow me to be shaped by You into a vessel of beauty and holiness. Amen.