After leaving Egypt, the children of Israel were in the deserts of Sinai and had no water to drink. Day after day their thirst increased. They might make the most diligent search, and put all their energies into digging deep in all directions, but it was a barren and thirsty land. They were perishing with thirst, but more than this they were sinners—they murmured, tempted God, and were ready to stone His servant Moses. Thus they were unworthy as well as needy.
Smite the Rock
The question was: could God, and would God, give this thirsty, sinful, perishing people water to drink? Yes, and by smiting another instead of them, His justice would be satisfied, and His mercy could freely flow. The Lord said unto Moses, “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” (Exodus 17:6).
This is a fine example of God’s grace, and pictures for us the way of salvation offered to sinful, helpless man in the cross of Christ. We are saved by grace: “By grace are ye saved, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8), but grace is misunderstood by many. It is said by some that grace means that God will do His part, if we will do ours. Others say that it means unmerited love, but it means more than this: it brings favor and blessing to those who only deserve punishment and destruction.
Grace flows freely to us through the smitten Son of God, who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. The death of Christ is typified by the smitten rock. The stripes that we deserved were laid upon Him, and as a result the water of life flows freely.
Speak to the Rock
After the people of Israel had drunk the water from the rock, they continued through the desert, and fought the battles of the Lord. But after a while they thirsted again, as we find in Numbers 20. This is another picture for us, and serves to show that after we have received the Lord Jesus—after we have obtained life and peace through faith in His name—we shall again feel barren and thirsty if we cease to live upon Christ and lose the taste and comfort of His love.
On this occasion, Moses was told to “speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water” (Numbers 20:8). From this we can learn that the rock, once smitten, did not need to be smitten again. How blessed it is to know Jesus in resurrection glory as the Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4) once smitten to save His people from death, but now waiting to hear the cry of His people and send forth His blessings with abundant refreshment (Hebrews 4:16).
Oh, dear child of God, are you cast down by the trials of the way? Are you oppressed and fainting under a sense of your many needs, many sorrows, and many achings of heart? Speak to the Rock! Go and tell the Lord Jesus all your sorrows, pour out your heart before Him. He will refresh your spirit, sustain your confidence, give you wisdom, and show you that He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). You may have proved it a blessed thing to speak to Him in times past; oh, speak to Him now! Cast all your care on Him, cast every burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you (Psalm 55:22).
You do not need to fear any sorrow, if it only leads you to the Lord Jesus. Every need will be a blessing, if it only serves to bring you to the mercy-seat. Fellow Christian, the Rock still gives forth His water, and refreshing streams still flow freely to us from our Lord Jesus if we simply call upon Him! “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee” (Jeremiah 33:3).
—Condensed from Streams of Refreshing from the Fountain of Life by H.H. Snell.