God the Rock – Water from Christ

God the Rock – Water from Christ

God the Rock – Water from Christ.

“… They 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).

There is no doubt that Paul was talking about a divine rock that accompanied the Israelites on their wilderness journey, and it seems that somehow God was directly involved with this miraculous Rock. But what is the reader to make of this rather mysterious reference to a “spiritual rock,” and that Christ Himself was the rock? Some points to think about:

(1.) Some Jewish authorities see the Rock as representing Wisdom. And that water was a metaphor for Torah, which sustained them spiritually during their journey.

(2.) Rabbinic tradition said that the rock that miraculously produced water in the wilderness two different times was literally the same rock. The belief is that this miraculous rock followed the Israelites throughout their journey and continued giving them water. This rock produced water at the beginning of their journey (Ex. 17), and at the end of their journey (Nu. 20). And Moses gave the same name to this rock both times, “Meribah,” which means contention, since the people were contending with God. So… the same name, the same rock.

(3.) Paul evidently accepted the Jewish tradition and assumed that the rock did indeed accompany the Israelites throughout their journey. Paul seemed to believe that Jesus Christ was a spiritual presence in the wilderness. Because he said “spiritual rock,” maybe it can be assumed that Paul didn’t take the rock of Jesus literally, but figuratively. Perhaps Paul meant that Jesus Himself spiritually sustained the Israelites during their journey, and the rock is a physical picture of a spiritual reality.

(4.) Biblical scholar Dr. David Stern translated 1 Corinthians 10:4 this way: “They all drank the same drink from the Spirit – for they drank from a Spirit-sent Rock which followed them, and that Rock was the Messiah.” Dr. Stern seems to believe that the “spiritual rock” means a Rock that was sent by the Spirit of God, and that Spirit-sent Rock was Jesus Christ.

(5.) The Orthodox scholars assert that the spiritual rock was a type of the Son of God. The Rock prefigures the body of Christ, and His earthly humanity. And the spiritual drink was a picture of Christ’s blood that flowed out of Him after being “struck” on the Cross like the rock in the wilderness was struck by Moses. The spiritual rock is not to be taken literally, but figuratively. Christ was not in the form of rock.

(6.) It seems to be true, and many Biblical scholars agree, that the preincarnate Christ was active in Israel’s history, including the wilderness journey. There was so many verified Christophanies in the Hebrew Bible in which the preincarnate Christ was called the unique “Angel of Yahweh,” that it’s more or less beyond doubt. Jesus was called upon to make an appearance before His earthly existence many times. He showed Himself to Adam in the Garden (Genesis 3); Hagar (Genesis 16); Abraham (Genesis 18); Isaac (Genesis 22); Jacob (Genesis 32); Moses (Exodus 3, 14, and 23); Balaam (Numbers 22); Joshua (Josh. 5); Gideon (Judges 6); Samson (Judges 13); Elijah (1 Kings 19); Isaiah (Is. 63); Daniel (Dan. 10). “The Angel of Yahweh is the visible Lord God in the Old Testament, as Jesus Christ was in the New Testament. Thus His deity is clearly portrayed in the Hebrew Bible.” (Amplified Notes).

(7.) With the active involvement of the preincarnate Jesus in mind, let us turn to His presence with the Israelites on their journey. In Exodus 23, the Israelites have already been camped at Mt. Sinai, and Moses has received the words of instruction directly from Yahweh. The Ten Commandments have been declared, as well as much of the Law. The awesome majesty and power of Yahweh has been on full display to the Israelites, complete with a fire on the mountaintop, a loud heavenly shofar blast, flashes of lightning, billowing smoke, claps of thunder, and the very earth shaking underneath them. The people have agreed to follow the Lord’s commands, but they don’t want to hear the voice of Yahweh. They are panicked with fear, they are terrified, and they want Moses to be the intermediary. Yahweh now makes an astounding promise to the Israelites. He is sending a special Messenger, the Angel of Yahweh, to walk before them on their journey, to bring them into the Promised Land. Yahweh referred to this Angel when He said, “My name is in Him.” (23:21). This Messenger is to be obeyed, they are to follow His guidelines and direction. They are not to provoke the Angel in any way. “So you shall serve Yahweh your God, and He will bless your bread and your water.” (23:25). Interesting… this special Messenger from Yahweh “will bless your water.” In other words, the Israelites will be serving Yahweh by obeying the Angel of Yahweh. This Angel is God’s representative throughout their journey. The Angel is acting on God’s authority. This Messenger is Jesus Christ, for He bears the name of Yahweh, the Great I Am. His role with us remains the same as it did with the Israelites… If we want to safely reach the Promised Land, we must learn to follow Him in our journey.

(8.) When we think of water coming from the spiritual rock of Christ, we immediately recall the tender and powerful conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus started things off by asking the woman for some water. Then He hints at the Hebrew Bible idea that she is probably not familiar with, since it’s not in the Pentateuch… the idea of God being a fountain of living water. Jesus starts slowly by hinting at living water. He could have quoted from Jeremiah 2:13 or 17:13 where that idea is mentioned. Or He could have quoted from Psalm 36:8-9, where David talks about drinking from God’s delicious streams since God is “the fountain of life.” Or Jesus could have told her about Isaiah 55:1: “O, Come to the water all you who are thirsty.” Jesus didn’t start too heavy-handed by quoting unfamiliar passages like Isaiah 12:3: “And you shall draw water with rejoicing from the spring of salvation.” But then soon enough, after she got off track by taking Him literally, Jesus began to teach her about the spiritual water of His Holy Spirit. Jesus said that indeed He Himself is the living fountain that will satisfy her spiritual yearning for God. Only He can provide a never-ending stream of living water so that she will never be thirsty again. Only He can quench her spiritual thirst.

(9.) His conversation with the woman at the well wasn’t the last time Jesus talks about spiritual water. Later in His ministry Jesus spoke about water once again in the Temple, shouting out to the assembled crowd, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me! Anyone who believes in Me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare that ‘Rivers of living water will flow from His heart.’” (John 7:37-39). The Holy Spirit will provide the eternal life for which all people thirst. And much later St. Paul referred to some biblical history that the woman at the well would have found more familiar, in 1 Corinthians 10:4. Paul referred to the miraculous rock struck by Moses that provided water for the people. He said that Christ is the spiritual rock out of which flows spiritual water, a rock that will always accompany us wherever we go. Finally, the water theme in Scripture concludes with a closing comment in Revelation 22:17, “Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires, drink freely from the water of life.” And that is what Jesus is offering all of us in the entire world, the living water of eternal life.