The Berean Expositor
Volume 14 - Page 37 of 167
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At Rephidim Israel failed to remember the wondrous works of God:--
"Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may
drink" (Exod. 17: 2).
So great was their murmuring and so threatening their attitude that they not only
tempted God, but were at the point of stoning their leader. The Lord commanded Moses
"Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and the rod,
wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thy hand and go. Behold, I will stand before
thee there upon the rock of 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" (Exod. 17: 5, 6).
The word "smite" occurs in Exod. 3: 20 of the smiting of Egypt, and in 12: 12 of
the smiting of the firstborn. In Zech. 13: 7 it is used prophetically of the offering of
Christ, "smite the shepherd"; and again in Isa. 53: 4, "smitten of God". We learn from
I Cor. 10: 3, 4 that the smitten rock was typical of the Lord:--
"And did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink, for
they drank of that spiritual rock that followed, and THAT ROCK WAS CHRIST."
Some interpret this passage to mean that the water which flowed that day from
the smitten rock actually followed the wanderings of the Israelites from that onward.
Deut. 9: 21  speaks of a brook that descended out of the mount,  while
Psa. 78: 15, 16 says:--
"He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of great depths. He
brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers."
Wall in his Critical Notes suggests that this river thus formed descended from Horeb
to the sea, and that for the remaining 39 years of Israel's wanderings they kept near to
its channel until in the last year of their pilgrimage they came to Ezion-gaber
(Numb. 33: 36), a part of the Red Sea on the Arabian side. It was not until after this
that we once more read of Israel's need of water. Others, seeing that there is no word for
"them" in the original of I Cor. 10: 4, read the passage as though it means:--
"They drank of the spiritual rock which followed the sending of the spiritual bread
from heaven."
Yet others, seeing the word "spiritual" before the word "rock", teach that we are not to
understand this statement of the literal water, but of Christ, Who accompanied the
children of Israel on all the journeyings, providing for all their needs all the time. Our
own belief embraces the first and the third interpretation.
There was literally a river formed by the cleaving of the rocks, which made a
provision for the whole period of Israel's pilgrimage.
This literal provision in turn is typical of that spiritual rock, Christ, Who has
promised never to leave nor forsake His people.