When you are in the wilderness and very thirsty, you’ll drink anything. There are two occasions when the people of Israel are in the wilderness and complain of being thirsty:
In Exodus 17:6 God tells Moses to strike a Rock, and water flowed out for people to drink.
Then in Numbers 20:8 God tells Moses to speak to another Rock for water to flow. Instead in his frustration he struck the rock. Because of his disobedience he never entered the Promised Land, though saw it from a distance.
So why did God judge Moses so harshly for striking the rock?
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 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.
1 Corinthians 10:1-4
The water-giving rock speaks of Christ. The rock was struck in Exodus 17:6, just like Christ was crucified once for all time (Hebrews 7:27). Jesus was “struck” once, and He continues to provide living water to those who pray in faith to Him.
Perhaps God told Moses to speak to the rock as a picture of prayer? When Moses angrily struck the rock, he destroyed the biblical typology and, in the symbolism, crucified Christ again.
Christ is our spiritual Rock. Through being struck, from his death flows our eternal life.
Christ is also continually present by the Spirit who lives in us as a river of living water. We can now come to him in prayer (speaking to the rock) and find our life.
Let us look to the rock that was struck, and let us speak to the rock today. Let’s not strike out in frustration but approach Jesus in prayer, trusting in his goodness. Let’s receive the Holy Spirit.
For anyone confused about the cartoon strip image, here’s a little explanation.