It is interesting to note that this fourfold picture is unfolded in chronological order in the Bible.
1) The Rock Must Be Smitten
Exodus 17:1-7 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. 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. And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?
In order for the life-giving (living) water to flow, the rock had to be smitten with the rod of judgment - the same rod that Moses used to judge the nation of Egypt.
This pictured the Lord Jesus Christ being smitten with the rod of men (for our iniquity, not His own - see 2 Samuel 7:14), being smitten of God for our sins, being judged in our place. The Rock had to be struck BEFORE the Living Water could flow forth!
Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
"The Lord Jesus, as one hymn says, is “a Rock in a weary land.” Although this is a marvelous picture of Him as the foundation — the One upon whom we rest and the One upon whom the church is built — a rock is the last place we go for a drink of water... Jesus is a Rock, but His beautiful life and durability will not save you. His teachings will not redeem your soul. His life and teachings are like polished marble which are engraved and, though you apply them to your life with Carborundum or optician’s rouge, they still won’t save you. The application of the principles taught by the Lord Jesus may polish you a little, but He is still that Rock against which you can dash your foot.
You can fall on the Rock Christ Jesus for salvation, but no human effort is able to get water from this Rock. Only when the rock was smitten did it bring forth life-giving waters. Jesus was crucified, and nothing short of believing that He died in your place and bore your sins on that cross will save you. The smitten rock is a picture of the death of Jesus Christ." (McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, [Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers] 2000, c1981.)
The rock was smitten and the water flowed forth - plenty to quench the thirst and meet all the daily needs of every single person in the nation of Israel. Life-giving water was now freely available to every man, woman, and child - whosoever would. This Living Water from the Rock is freely available to whosoever will - now that the Rock, Jesus Christ, has been smitten:
Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Have you drunk water from the Rock?
2) We Must Be Hid In The Cleft Of The Rock
Exodus 33:12-14 And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
Exodus 33:18-23 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.
Moses desired to know the Lord even more than he did already, longed to draw even closer to Him, wanted to experience even more grace in His sight - and petitioned the Lord to let him see God's glory. The only way that was possible was for God to stand Moses upon a rock, and then to put him in the cleft of the rock.
The only way we can see God's glory is to be hid in the cleft of the Rock - the Rock of Ages that was cleft for us on Calvary! We are hidden in the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, when we place our faith in Him alone to save us. From that moment on, we are in Christ. Being "in Christ" is one of the main themes of the book of Ephesians.
But notice one other thing about the passage above: God told Moses that he was to stand upon the rock. What is the foundation of your life - what are you standing on? Have you built your life upon the shifting sands of this world, or upon the steadfast foundation of the solid Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ?
Matthew 7:24-27 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
1 Corinthians 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the only sure and lasting foundation! If you want to know the Lord God personally - as your own Heavenly Father, if you want to have close, intimate fellowship with Him - you must be hidden in the cleft of the Rock and you must be standing upon the Rock as your foundation.
Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
3) Now We Need To Only Speak To The Rock
Numbers 20:7-13 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the LORD, and he was sanctified in them.
Moses was commanded to only speak to the rock and the water would flow forth abundantly out of it. God was continuing the picture here - the rock did not need to be struck again to bless the people. It has already been smitten!
Similarly, our Rock does not need to be struck again to bring blessing to His people. Jesus was already smitten for our sins - the penalty was already paid, judgment was already poured out - and the water is still freely flowing forth!
Consider these passages:
Hebrews 7:25-27 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
Hebrews 9:25-28 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
It is interesting to note that the book of Hebrews mentions seven times that Jesus' sacrifice for our sins was a one-time offering, He only needed to die once (and in fact, we cannot be saved unless we place our faith in His finished work upon the cross of Calvary, place our faith in His complete atonement for our sins). In addition to the three times the word once was quoted above, we see four more references in Hebrews (read surrounding verses for context):
Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
Hebrews 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Hebrews 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
The Rock was struck once - it did not need to be struck again. That is where Moses and Aaron sinned in not trusting/believing the Lord in this regard, but in spite of their sin, God was still glorified in the sight of the people - and the water still flowed forth! Praise the Lord for His mercy and grace! The Living Water was still flowing freely. As the great hymnwriter, Philip Bliss, so eloquently expressed in his hymn:
Once for all, O sinner, receive it,
Once for all, O brother, believe it;
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.
Life-giving water was available for the asking. All that was needed for the blessing to flow forth from the rock was for someone to speak to it. If you want God's blessing and provision in your life, make sure you are standing on the Rock and hidden in Him, then keep speaking to the Rock in daily fellowship. Living Water is flowing forth, and is ours when we speak to the Rock!
"From the Rock, Christ Jesus, come spiritual blessings today. The waters of blessing gush forth to relieve parched lips. Ephesians 1:3 informs us that, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” The Rock was smitten once and from it flows an abundance of water. The fountain is brimfull. The stream is bank full. The world is not able to contain it." (McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, [Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers] 2000, c1981.)
4) Spring Up, O Well
Numbers 21:16-18 And from thence they went to Beer: that is the well whereof the LORD spake unto Moses, Gather the people together, and I will give them water. Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it: The princes digged the well, the nobles of the people digged it, by the direction of the lawgiver, with their staves. And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah:
This is the first song we see the nation of Israel singing during their wilderness wanderings. A song of praise and thanksgiving - appreciation at last for the life-giving water that God had provided for their needs.
The word sing in verse 17 means "properly, to eye or (generally) to heed, i.e. pay attention; by implication, to respond; by extens. to begin to speak; specifically to sing, shout, testify, announce." I think now the nation of Israel was learning the lesson that the Lord was longing to teach them: just ask me, and I will freely give you the Living Water!
John 4:10, 14 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water... But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
In this passage in Numbers 21, we see Israel listening to the Lord, and digging the well according to the direction of the lawgiver, Moses. That presents another valuable lesson for us today: in order for the Lord to spring forth His blessings in our lives, we need to be heeding His Word! They followed the direction of the lawgiver - we need to follow and obey God's Word each day as well.
Notice also, after they dug the well according to God's Word, they went from the wilderness to Mattanah. Mattanah means "a present; specifically (in a good sense), a sacrificial offering, (in a bad sense) a bribe." Have you drunk of the Living Water flowing forth from the Rock? Are you thankful for all the blessings the Lord has poured out upon your life, upon your home, upon your church family? Are you presenting yourself to the Lord as a living sacrifice, as a sacrificial gift? Just something to ponder.
The death of the Lord Jesus Christ was necessary for our salvation - there would have been no Living Water flowing forth from the Rock if it had not been smitten. The Saviour died upon the cross, shed His precious blood for our sins, was buried, and then physically, gloriously arose three days and three nights later. Jesus is alive forevermore, and able to give His Living Water to all who seek Him!
John 14:19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
Romans 4:24-25 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Isaiah 12:2-3 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
Song of Solomon 2:14 O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.
Are you hidden in the clefts of the Rock? The Lord is longing to hear your voice. Are you speaking to the Rock? Come boldly unto Jesus today.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (See also 10:22)
For more indepth studies that build upon some of the themes presented in this devotion, see: The Rock Of Horeb, Without Blemish In Christ - Part 1 and The Glory Of The New Testament (Covenant) - Part 2.
The water from the Rock flows free
We thirst no more, who thrive
Upon Your Word, we long to drink
Without we could not survive!
60 Day Devotional Series: Numbers In The Bible