Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it…
In the statement of Paul - "They drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:4) - we have a clear assertion of the typical character of this transaction at Rephidim. We may either suppose the term "Rock" in the first clause to be used by metonymy for the water which flowed from the rock, or we may understand the allusion to be to hint of whom the rock was but a symbol, and who did accompany the Israelites in their wanderings, abundantly supplying their wants. The latter view, which conserves the grain of truth in the Rabbinical traditions above referred to, to which the apostle seems to make allusion, is most in keeping with the further statement, "that Rock was Christ." An interesting comparison is with the words of Christ himself, when, on "the rest day, that great day of the feast," he "stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink" (John 7:37). The libation of water from the pool of Siloam, which was a ceremony connected with the feast of tabernacles, and which most commentators take to be the subject of Christ's allusion in these memorable words, was commemorative of this miraculous supply of water in the desert. Dr. Godet goes further, and takes this passage in Exodus to be itself the "scripture" (John 7:38), and the bringing of the water from the rock the evert, which Jesus had in view when he gave his invitation. "Why," he says, "should not Jesus, instead of stopping at the emblem, go back to the Divine fact which this rite commemorated ..... He had in ch. 2. (of John's Gospel) represented himself as the true temple, in ch. 3. as the true brazen serpent, in ch. 6. as the bread of heaven; in ch. 7. he is the true rock: in ch. 8. he will be the true light-giving cloud, and so on till ch. 19., when he will at length realise the type of the Paschal Lamb" (Godet on John 7:37). The points to be noted here are these: -
I. HUMAN NATURE IS IN A CONDITION OF THIRST. Its state is figured by that of the Israelites in the desert. It thirsts for a satisfaction which the world cannot give it. Give man all of the world he asks for, and still his soul is deeply athirst. His increasing cry is, who will show us any good? (Psalm 4:6). Learning does not satisify this thirst (Ecclesiastes, Goethe's "Faust"). Pleasures do not satisfy it (Byron's "Childe Harold"). Colonel Gardiner told Dr. Doddridge how, on one occasion, when his companions were congratulating him on his distinguished felicity, a dog happening to conic into the room, he could not help groaning inwardly, and saying to himself, "Oh, that I were that dog." Riches do not satisfy it. It is, however, when spiritual awakening comes, and the sinner is brought to realise his true condition as alienated from the life of God, that his thirst enters on the phase which makes satisfaction of it possible. It is now spiritual thirst - thirst for pardon, for holiness, for salvation. Note, in passing, how this deep-seated thirst of man testifies to his spiritual dignity. If man is merely a natural being - the highest of the animals - why does not nature satisfy him? Why are all. things thus full of labour - the eye not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing (Ecclesiastes 1:8)? The mere animal is easily satisfied, and returns into its rest. How different with man! His bodily comforts may be every one attended to; his senses filled with grateful pleasures; his imagination fed with the most gorgeous images, of beauty; his intellect stored with the facts and laws of every department of finite science, but all does not slake the thirst of his spirit. His soul still cries, "Give, give; I want not this, nor this; give me living water, of which, if a man drink he will never thirst again."
II. CHRIST IS THE SATISFACTION OF THIS THIRST. He says - "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink" (John 7:37). He understands better than any one else the nature, causes, and intensity of our thirst, yet he promises to gratify it. And who that puts his word to the test is ever sent disappointed away? His salvation is found by every one that tries it, to have really this property of quenching spiritual thirst. He meets the special thirst of the sinful soul, by satisfying its desires for pardon and holiness. He meets the more fundamental thirst of our nature - the thirst for blessed life - by admitting us to fellowship with himself, the perfect embodiment of truth, purity, and goodness; by giving us a true end in our existence; by furnishing the soul, in the living God
(1) with a spiritual object, congruous to its own nature;
(2) with an adequate object, capable of filling and occupying all its powers;
(3) with a living object, in communion with whom it specially attains to the blessedness of life eternal: finally, by imparting to us, in fullest measure, the influences of the Spirit, source of all light, joy, strength, and powers of holy obedience.
III. CHRIST SATISFIES THIS THIRST IN VIRTUE OF HIS HAVING BEEN SMITTEN. It was only as a rock "smitten' that Jesus could yield waters of salvation to mankind. Atonement must be made for sins. The Christ must be smitten for the transgressions of the world. He came to save. He must appear as the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus was thus smitten in the garden and on Calvary. John notes how from his wounded side there came forth the water and the blood (John 19:34, 35). "Rock of Ages," etc.
IV. THE WATERS OF CHRIST'S SALVATION ARE FREE AND PLENTIFUL.
1. Free. "Ho, every one that thirsteth" etc. (Isaiah 55:1), "Whosoever will" Revelation 22:17).
2. Plentiful. "Preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). - J.O.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb. You shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.