Hunger and thirst were two of the major complaints the Israelites leveled against God and Moses. How could God lead them out into the wilderness only to starve them and deprive them of water? God had no such intention. But, rather than prayerfully requesting these provisions, the Children of Israel grumbled and complained. As Paul indicates in 1 Corinthians 10, God’s grace was made evident despite their whining. But, God’s wrath was also made evident when His gracious gifts were met with disdain or disobedience. Today we discover how God’s gracious provision is still coming from the Rock. Read on…
Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-17 – Rock of Ages
In the tenth chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul is writing about the Lord’s Supper. We have already noted that this meal was instituted by Jesus in the upper room and is nothing less than the New Exodus Passover feast. Paul is addressing abuses by the Corinthian Church in the way they were approaching the Table. And, he is pointing out that the wilderness wanderings serve as an example to these followers of Christ. Paul wrote, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.”
Yesterday we studied God’s provision of water to satisfy the thirst of the Israelites. At the beginning of the Exodus and at the very end of the 40 year journey, God instructed Moses to draw water from a rock. In the first instance, Moses was to gather the elders and people at Horeb. There, God would stand with Moses as he struck the rock with Aaron’s staff. When he did, water came forth from the rock. This scenario played out a second time four decades later. This time, God instructs Moses to “speak to the rock” in order to extract water. Sadly, Moses takes it upon himself to strike the rock twice. God fulfilled His promise to give water to the people. But this blatant disobedience deprived Moses and Aaron of entering the Promised Land.
Deriving water from a rock is not natural! This was supernatural. Of this, Paul wrote, “They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.” As we saw on Thursday, Jesus proclaimed that He was the true bread sent down from heaven. And now, we find out that He is also the Rock out of which water came. In this teaching extended teaching about the Lord’s Supper, what was Paul trying to communicate? Why did Paul place this stunning statement about Jesus being the rock that provides “spiritual drink” in a section of 1 Corinthians pertaining to the Lord’s Supper?
Consider this – Moses was told to strike the rock, and then to speak to the rock. In both instances, life giving water flowed from the rock. How can this be seen as Jesus? When Jesus was on the cross, he was struck. His body was broken and His blood was shed. A soldier thrust his spear into Jesus’ side, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water (John 19:34). The parallel of Moses striking the rock is unmistakable. Isaac Watts wrote, “See, from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down; did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown.” God’s grace flowed from the side of Jesus when He was struck!
How about when Moses is told to “speak to the rock” and water would flow? Is there a parallel to this in Jesus’ Passion? When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He took a cup, gave thanks and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20). By offering a prayer of thanks and speaking the “words of institution,” bread and wine became the Lord’s Supper. As we have read, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:16, “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ?” This is not true of most bread and wine – only that which is dedicated for the Supper of the Lord! When we gather at the Table of the Lord, He is not struck again – there is no “re-sacrifice” of the Lord Jesus. He is the “once and for all sacrifice.” But, just as Moses was supposed to speak to the rock and it would issue forth God’s gracious gift of water, so too, when the prayer of thanks is offered, and the Words of Jesus are spoken, simple elements of bread and wine become set apart as a gracious gift of Communion with Jesus and His Church. Verse 17 says, “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.”
As we follow the Pathway to the Passion, may we reflect on the One who is the Rock. Soon, on this Scriptural pilgrimage, we will come to the cross where He was struck only once – then water and blood flowed from His side. Also, on this journey, we will gather at the Lord’s Table where He is not struck again. But, following the Scriptural mandate, a word of prayer will be offered, Scriptural words will be spoken, and bread and wine will be set apart as the Lord’s Supper. The parallels from the Exodus and the Passion are too rich and beautiful to miss. Augustus M. Toplady wrote, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee; Let the water and the blood, from the wounded side which flowed, be of sin the double cure, save from wrath and make me pure.”