Water and the Cross
Yesterday, it was food. Today, it’s water. As the people of Israel traveled, they came to Rephidim, and at Rephidim, there was no water. And just as before, they began to complain to Moses, so much so that he thought they were going to stone him.
We can shake our heads and laugh at these Israelites. How in the world can they doubt God after the ten plagues he sent on Egypt, parting the Red Sea, and providing bread on the desert floor every morning? It seems to us that they are a pack of complainers who never learn their lesson: To trust in God. But isn’t that the way with us? God takes care of us every day of our lives. We can look back and see where He was leading and guiding. And yet, when the first sign of trial comes, we often doubt and falter.
So God tells Moses to pass before the people with his staff in his hand. There was apparently some conspicuous rock there at Mount Horeb (another name for Mount Sinai). God said He would stand before Moses while Moses struck the rock. And then from that rock water flowed.
We can see the obvious miracle here – water flowing from a rock. But the New Testament sees more going on. 1 Corinthians 10:4 tells us that the Israelites “all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” In the Gospel of John, Jesus cries out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-38). Moses struck the rock and water came forth from it. Likewise, as our Lord was struck, living streams of water came forth from him for our salvation. This happened literally on the cross from his precious side; and, as Adam’s wife came forth from his side, so did the Church come forth from our Lord’s. Our Lord is the rock; the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, is the water.
And then there is the brief account of the Israelites’ defeat of the Amalekites, who opposed the children of Israel when they came out of Egypt (1 Samuel 15:1-3) and attacked them on the way (Deuteronomy 25:17-19). As long as Moses held out his arms, Israel prevailed; when he didn’t, Amalek prevailed. In other words, it was only by the power of the cross that Israel could prevail over Amalek. Let this be a lesson to us how utterly dependent we are upon the Lord: He is our only source of food, water, and victory in this life.