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With New Testament Eyes: 14 - Water from the rock

By Henry Mahan


      Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 10:4

      The people of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of sin and pitched in Rephidim. There was no water to drink. The people murmured against Moses because there was no water.

      If we did not know something of the evil of the human heart from scripture (Jer. 17:9) and from our own experience (Rom. 7:24), we would be at a loss to account for the unbelief, ingratitude, and insensibility of these people to God's goodness and faithfulness. They had been delivered from Egypt. They had seen the hand of God at the Red Sea. They had been fed with quail and manna. Now they are ready to stone Moses because they have no water.

      We learn from Israel in the wilderness a needed lesson, and that is the unvarying tendency of the human heart to doubt God! The smallest cloud of trouble is sufficient to hide the face of God. We had rather lean on a cobweb of human resources and wisdom than on the everlasting omnipotent arm of God. It is well called, 'an evil heart always ready to depart from the living God.'

      Note, if you will, the age-old questions in Exodus 16 and 17, 'What shall we eat? What shall we drink?' The only question missing is, 'What shall we wear?' After these things do the heathen seek.

      Faith has a brief but comprehensive answer to all these questions--God! There is nothing that exceeds the wickedness of the human heart except the abounding grace of God! The only thing greater than our sin is his grace! Someone once said, 'Two things man has never fathomed--the depth of sin and the grace of God.'

      vv. 4-6. 'Go out, take the elders and your rod. I will stand upon the rock in Horeb. You shall smite the rock. There shall come water out of the rock. The people shall drink.'

      What makes this event so special? What is there about the rock smitten that is so special? Paul answers (1 Cor. 10:4) in four words, 'that rock was Christ.'

      1. The people thought that they would perish

      All hope was gone, the simple fact being that there was no water. No water--no life. Is this not our state and condition by birth, nature, and practice? No spiritual water, no life, only death in a dry, thirsty, and barren land (Psalm 63:1-2). The human well is dry, the religious well is dry, the philosopher's well is dry.

      There is nothing that we can do nor the world of flesh can do to save our souls.

      2. There is a rock

      'There is a rock in a weary land; its shadows fall on the burning sand.' In appearance it is only a rock like so many other rocks.

      Without anointed eyes one would never see it nor know the power, beauty, and life-giving water therein. Christ said to the woman, 'If you knew, you would ask and I would give you living water.'

      Look at the rock! A rock is an unlikely thing to afford water. Only a rock, yet God stood on that rock. Christ was called 'only a carpenter: no beauty that we should desire him: you are only a man; how can you be God?' Oh, for anointed eyes to see that 'God was in Christ' (2 Cor. 5:19). 'He that hath seen me hath seen the Father' (John 14:9).

      3. The rock was smitten

      There was no water coming forth from the rock until Moses smote it with his rod. So our Lord Jesus Christ was smitten, scourged, and crucified that his precious blood might flow forth for the redemption of our souls. 'He was smitten of God and afflicted' (Isa. 53:4, 10-12). You may get as technical as you wish; but the message of the word is clear, 'He was smitten and afflicted' by the wrath, judgment, and justice of God for us and 'by his stripes we are healed.'

      4. The rock was smitten for a rebellious people

      No need to dress up Israel. They were a sinful, undeserving people, as we are; they were thirsty, as we are; they could do nothing about it, as we can't; God had mercy upon them, as he did upon us, and gave them water and life from the rock, as he has given us life in Christ. The rock yielded water abundantly. It required no purification by men, no effort to pipe it, only to drink of it freely. 'All the fitness he requireth is to feel your need of him.'

      5. The rock followed them (1 Cor. 10:4)

      It followed them through the wilderness, over the hills and valleys to Canaan. All the desert could not dry up that rock. So Christ is our fountain of life and the source of all grace through the wilderness of this world until we come to the heavenly Canaan. Also read Numbers 20:1-12.

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See Also:
   Foreward & Acknowledgements
   1 - The Fall
   2 - Abel's Offering
   3 - The Ark Of Noah
   4 - Sarah and Hagar; Law and Grace
   5 - The Lord Will Provide
   6 - A Bride for the Heir
   7 - Bethel - The House of God
   8 - Peniel - The Face of God
   9 - Joseph Opens the Storehouses
   10 - Joseph and His Brothers
   11 - Shiloh
   12 - The Passover
   13 - The Manna
   14 - Water from the rock
   15 - The Blood Before the Lord
   16 - The Ram of Consecration
   17 - The Day of Atonement
   18 - Caleb - The Faithful Dog
   19 - The High Priest Intercedes
   20 - The Brazen Serpent
   21 - A Prophet Like Moses
   22 - The Cities of Refuge
   23 - Joshua
   24 - The Scarlet Line in the Window
   25 - The birth of Samson
   26 - The Kinsman Redeemer
   27 - The Song of Hannah
   28 - Give us a King
   29 - Saul's Great Sin
   30 - David and Mephibosheth
   31 - Why God Permitted David to Fall
   32 - Comfort from God's Covenant
   33 - I Will Not Offer to God that which Cost me Nothing
   34 - The Queen of Sheba Comes to Solomon
   35 - Three Examples of Faith
   36 - Where is the Lord God of Elijah?
   37 - Empty Vessels Filled
   38 - Naaman, the Leper
   39 - Open his Eyes that He may See
   40 - Four Lepers Teach us a Lesson
   41 - Nehushtan--A Piece of Brass
   42 - Bringing Back the Ark
   43 - Uzziah's Great Transgression
   44 - Four Things Learned in Trouble
   45 - How Can Man be Just With God?
   46 - Three Vital Questions
   47 - I Know that my Redeemer Liveth
   48 - Now Mine Eye Seeth Thee
   49 - The Psalm of Messiah the King
   50 - God's two great books
   51 - The Psalm of the Cross
   52 - The Lord is my Shepherd
   53 - True God - True Israel - True Redeemer
   54 - Eight Great Precepts
   55 - My Hope is in Thee
   56 - Many, O Lord, Are Thy Wonderful Works
   57 - A Song of Love
   58 - The Sinner's Prayer
   59 - My Rock and my Salvation
   60 - Our Lord's Sufferings for Our Sins
   61 - Mercy and Truth are Met Together
   62 - The Victory of the Messiah
   63 - Bless the Lord, O my Soul
   64 - Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So
   65 - The King-Priest
   66 - The Chief Cornerstone
   67 - The Observer and the Observed
   68 - Praise the Lord O my Soul
   69 - Wisdom in Christ
   70 - The Conclusion of the Whole Matter
   71 - Remember Now Thy Creator
   72 - My Beloved is Mine and I am His
   73 - What is Thy Beloved more than Another Beloved?
   74 - The Lord Our Righteousness
   75 - The Believers Hope
   76 - From Nothing to Everything
   77 - Lost, Driven Away, Broken, Sick
   78 - Can These Bones Live?
   79 - Four Things God Taught Nebuchadnezzar
   80 - Thy God Will Deliver Thee
   81 - Hosea--Type of Christ
   82 - A Famine to be Feared
   83 - Salvation is of the Lord
   84 - A Fountain Opened for Mourners
   85 - The Messenger of the Covenant

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