Exodus 17:1-6 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
As the nation of Israel wandered through the wilderness, they became parched, thirsty, desperate for water, but there was no water to be found for the people to drink. They came to the rock in Horeb, which means “desolate” from a root word meaning “to parch (through drought)”. Truly, it was an arid, hot, barren land that they wandered in! They began to complain and argue with the man of God, Moses. He, in turn, cried unto the Lord, and the Lord responded with a beautiful picture of the salvation found in Jesus Christ – water from the Rock. What did all this mean?
Moses was commanded to smite the rock of Horeb with his rod and the water would flow forth. He promptly did so in the sight of the people, and there was enough water to quench the thirst of all the nation of Israel.
In the New Testament, we learn that the Rock represented Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians 10:4. And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. Drinking the living water from the Rock pictured salvation.
What had to happen first before the living water could flow forth from the Rock and the people could partake of it? It needed to be smitten! This word means to strike severely, and is also translated in other passages as kill, slay, slaughter. (You will understand in a moment why I am emphasizing the definition of this word!) What had to happen before Jesus could freely offer the gift of eternal salvation found only in Him? He needed to die for our sins – He needed to be smitten on the cruel cross of Calvary! Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was sacrificed once for all! His sacrifice paid the complete price for our salvation, and now His gift of salvation is freely offered to all who will receive it by faith. Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.
Have you come to Jesus Christ for salvation? Have you turned from your sins and accepted His free gift of eternal life – believing that He died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and three days later physically arose from the grave? Have you tasted of the Living Water? If you come to Him, Jesus will fill the aching void - the emptiness - you have inside. You need never thirst again! Come to Jesus today.
We have another incident recorded in Scripture where water was to flow forth from a rock. But this situation is a little different than the first. Here Moses is only commanded to speak to the rock:
And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed Me not, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. Numbers 20:2, 7-12
In both of these situations, the Lord was attempting to teach the Israelites something about the coming Messiah. Moses obeyed the Lord’s command in the first case, and clearly brought across the picture that the Lord wanted to give. The second time he disobeyed, with tragic consequences - being barred from entering the Promised Land. What was the type being illustrated, and why were the consequences so serious?
Where did Moses go wrong the second time? This time he was commanded to only speak to the rock, and the rock would bring forth water. Instead, he disobeyed and struck the rock. Why just speak to the Rock this time? Because it had already been smitten! Jesus has already died for our sins - once for all - and He doesn't need to be offered again and again! The New Testament, especially the book of Hebrews, makes this fact so plain to all who will see.
Hebrews 7:27; 9:12, 26-28; 10:10, 12, 14 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for His own sins, and then for the people's: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself. Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
Jesus Himself said in John 19:30 It is finished. The salvation He offers is full and complete! You cannot add to or take away from His finished work upon the cross!
The second time, the water flowed forth from the rock abundantly. Now, to receive the blessings of salvation and to drink of the abundant life in Jesus Christ, the Rock, we only need to speak to Him in faith (call on His name, cry out in prayer); we don't need Him to be sacrificed for us again. He already paid the full price for our redemption! This was the beautiful picture that Moses had marred. No wonder the terrible consequences! The Lord wanted to emphasize that salvation (and the Bible's pictures of it) was a serious matter.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Have you called upon the Lord for salvation? Have you received Jesus’ gift of eternal life by believing that He paid the complete penalty for your sin and trusting Him to save you? If not, please come to the Saviour today. The Living Water is available for whosoever will come.
Springs Of Living Water
(John W. Peterson)
I thirsted in the barren land of sin and shame,
And nothing satisfying there I found;
But to the blessed cross of Christ one day I came,
Where springs of living water did abound.
Drinking at the springs of living water,
Happy now am I, my soul they satisfy.
Drinking at the springs of living water,
O wonderful and bountiful supply.
How sweet the living water from the hills of God!
It makes me glad and happy all the way.
Now glory, grace, and blessing mark the path I've trod
I'm shouting "Hallelujah" every day.
0 sinner, won't you come today to Calvary?
A fountain there is flowing deep and wide.
The Saviour now invites you to the water free,
Where thirsting spirits can be satisfied.
The Cleft Of The Rock
Exodus 33:18-23 And he (Moses) said, I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory. And He (the LORD) said, I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And He said, Thou canst not see My face: for there shall no man see Me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by: And I will take away Mine hand, and thou shalt see My back parts: but My face shall not be seen.
Moses asked to see the glory of the Lord. The Lord agreed to give him his request, but he first needed to be hid in the cleft of the rock. Hidden within this cleft, he would then be able to see the glory of the Lord.
A careful studying of this and related passages reveals that this is the same Rock, which is Christ. The Bible teaches that God is a Spirit and that no man can see the Father at any time. It is only in Jesus Christ that we can see God, because He is in fact God manifested in the flesh.
Hebrews 1:1-3 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
The fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Him. (See Colossians 2:9) Jesus said in John 14:9 He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.
If you want to know God the Father, you must come to Him through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. In order to see the Lord’s glory, we must first be hid in Christ. There is no other way. When we come to Jesus for salvation, we are then placed in Christ forever, and no one (not even ourselves) can separate us from His love.
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Some of our most loved hymns are based on Exodus 33:22, including the two wonderful ones I quote below:
He Hideth My Soul
A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.
A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
He taketh my burden away;
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day.
With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
And filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God
For such a Redeemer as mine!
When clothed in His brightness, transported I rise
To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love
I’ll shout with the millions on high.
Rock Of Ages
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save me from its guilt and power.
Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly,
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
Are you trusting in Jesus’ payment for your sin? The moment you turn to Him for salvation, the Father hides you in Christ, the Rock.
Are you hidden in the cleft of the Rock?
For those who are interested in a little more in-depth study on Mount Horeb, read Exodus 3, about Moses’ call to service and the burning bush where the Angel of the Lord revealed Himself. (See especially verses 1 and 12) Also read 1 Kings 19, about the account of Elijah’s flight from Jezebel. The mountain that he fled to was Horeb. (See verse 8)
Written February 4th, 2003
By Jerry Bouey
Eagle's Wings Ministries
The Christian Counter