The wilderness story is a testimony of God’s mercy. In Rephidim we read once again that God shows his mercy to an undeserving people. The Israelites were ready to stone Moses, but Moses cried out to the Lord (Exo. 17:4). In response the Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink” (Exo. 17:5-6).
This whole scene is a revelation of the cross, the place where true water flows. Notice how God tells Moses to take the same staff that he struck the Nile with. When Moses struck the Nile it turned to blood. Now he will strike the rock and it will turn into living waters. In judgment, the cross struck Jesus and “turned” him into blood. But that same cross was also the source of living waters for all people. Jesus had to be struck, in place of the people who actually deserved the judgment, for the living waters of mercy to flow.
Paul confirms that the rock and waters had a deeper meaning:
“They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ…These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:3-4, 11).
Let’s not assume that only a trickle of water seeped out of the rock. The rock had to satisfy the thirst of about three million people. No it was not a trickle. Rather it was rivers of living water that gushed out of this rock! The Psalmist proclaimed: “He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it flowed like a river in the desert” (Psa. 105:41).
Prayer: Jesus, you are the fulfillment of the rock. In the hard place of the cross, where you were struck in judgment, torrents of mercy flowed out for us to drink. The cross is the place where the true river flows. Today, I come to your cross and drink deeply of your fountatin of youth.