Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
After the Israelites saw manna from Heaven, they come to a place where there is no water and, instead of trusting that God — Who has provided everything they have needed — they return to complaining and asking Moses the same old questions. God, being God, uses this as a moment to create a picture of something more profound than simply providing water for a bunch of thirsty complainers, though He does that, too.
Some of the elders go with Moses and God stands before Moses on a rock. Moses hits the rock and water comes out. There is probably a scientific explanation for how Moses could have hit a boulder with a walking stick and split the stone, thus revealing a subterranean spring that the rock was capping. Maybe something along the lines of how a gem cutter strikes diamonds at just the right place and breaks something that is very nearly unbreakable. I am sure that the incident is easily explained scientifically. In a wonderful twist, the science would actually not detract from the miracle for me. It would, instead, make the whole thing even more fascinating. God led them to a specific place where a specific rock capped a specific source of water large enough to supply all those people and their livestock for a specific amount of time and God then showed Moses a specific spot to hit with his walking stick. God did not tell Moses how hard to hit that spot or how much length of staff should be swung or at what angle the impact should happen. All that science was handled by God, Who just told Moses to strike the rock. The science, far from lessening the miracle, simply affirms just how miraculous it was that that group of things happened in exactly the way they did. Add in the statistics of any one of those things happening, then calculate outward to the odds of all of those variables lining up as they did and the provision of water looks even more miraculous to me than it did before (as does the ability of math lovers to do that much math and be happy about it).
But all of that presents a picture of Christ. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:4 that all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Christ is the One Who would be struck by the leadership of the Israelites. From this strike would flow living water; the Holy Spirit; Life. Jesus Christ is my Rock from Whom flows the water of life. He is the supply for my need and the One Who slakes my spirit’s thirst. And no mental gymnastics are required to come to this conclusion, because Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, already explained the symbol to all who care to read it.
My takeaway from this is two things. One, that God can take my lack of trust and use it to write a message for others to read and believe. This does not excuse my faithlessness, but reminds me that God is greater even than my shortcomings. A comforting thought. Two, Christ is my supply of Living Water; the One to Whom I must go to slake the thirst of my soul. We are all of us thirsty souls and Jesus Christ is the only One Who can satisfy that thirst. As He said to the woman at the well, whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst (John 4:14).
Father, thank You that You are greater than my shortcomings and that You regularly remind me of this. Thank You, also, that Christ is ready, willing, and able to provide for our spiritual thirst so that we are never thirsty again. Please keep these thoughts at the forefront of my mind, ready to be called up when I fall short or when my soul begins to feel the heat of this world bearing down.