The word "rock" is used many times in the Bible to illustrate the protecting care of God for His people. The psalmist says, "The Lord is my rock." (Ps. 18:2) "Thou art my rock and my fortress." (Ps. 71:3)
"Selah," which occurs over seventy times in the Psalms, and is defined by most commentators, "a pause or musical note," is also defined in the marginal reference to be "the rock." (2 Kings 14:7, margin)
It is quite appropriate that in singing of the mighty power of God in leading His people, the psalmist should pause at times and meditate upon Selah,–" the Rock;" the "spiritual Rock that followed them:and that Rock was Christ." (1 Cor. 10:4)
Victories would often take the place of defeat in our daily lives if in our songs we inserted the same pauses used by the · sweet singer of Israel. If in the rush of our daily lives we paused to meditate upon "the Rock," we could say with David, "In the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me upon a rock." (Ps. 27:5)
The forty years' wandering of the children of Israel was in Arabia Petra, or Rocky Arabia, as it was sometimes called. Rocks confronted them at every turn in their journey; but from these very rocks God caused water to flow to quench their thirst. Even so in our daily journeys, the rocks of difficulties that seem impenetrable to us, will, if we hide in Christ, prove but steppingstones to greater victories.
God said, "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 eiders." Ex. 17:6)
The thirsty multitude saw the pure, refreshing water gush out from the flinty rock. They drank, and were refreshed for their journey. "They thirsted not when He led them through the deserts:He caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them." (Is. 48:21)
It was not a meager supply of water, for it "ran in the dry places like a river." (Ps. 105:41) During all their journey, they were miraculously supplied with water. The stream did not continue to flow from the first place where the rock was smitten, but wherever they needed water, from the rocks beside their encampment the water gushed out. Well might the psalmist bid the earth tremble before the God who could turn "the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters." (Ps. 114:8)
When the Israelites came in sight of the promised land, the water ceased to flow. God told them they were to draw water from the wells as they passed through Edom. (Deut. 2:3-6)
Strange as it may seem, after drinking of the miraculous streams in the desert for so many years, they now began to murmur and complain, because the water no longer gushed out of the rocks by their encampment.
Then it was that, on the very border of Canaan, Moses, the servant of the Lord, committed the sin which prevented him from entering the goodly land. The rock had once been smitten, and the Lord told Moses to gather the assembly of people, and to speak unto the rock before their eyes, and it would give forth water. Moses, who had borne patiently with their murmurings so long, now became impatient, and said, "Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?" (Num. 20:10) He then smote the rock twice, and water gushed forth.
God is no respecter of persons, and although He had highly honored Moses, yet He punished him for his sin. When Moses smote the rock the second time, he ignored the great event of which the smitten rock was a type. Christ died once for the sins of the world, (Heb. 9:28) and all who speak to Him, confessing their sins and claiming pardon, will receive the healing waters of salvation. Thus not only did Moses disobey God, but he marred the beautiful symbol which had been placed before the Israelites during all their desert wanderings.
The Bible writers often refer to the experiences connected with the smitten rock, to teach God's tender care for His people. Isaiah says, "A man shall be as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."(Is. 32:2)
Paul tells us that this Man who was as "a hiding-place," "a covert," and as "rivers of water," was Christ, the Rock. (1 Cor. 10:4) He is the "shadow of a great rock in a weary land." What He was to the Israelites, He will be to every one who puts his trust in Him. He says to-day, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink." (John 7:37) The one who heeds the call will "drink of the brook in the way:therefore shall he lift up the head." (Ps. 110:7)
The refreshing water flows by every encampment. All can freely drink of the life-giving stream, flowing from the Rock smitten once upon Calvary's cross. "Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." (Rev. 22:17) Do you long to drink? Remember the Rock has been smitten for you. Do not make the mistake of Moses, and think you must smite it again. "Speak ye unto the Rock, . and it shall give forth His water." (Num. 20:8)
Tell Him you are weary of sin, that you long to accept of His righteousness. Give Him your sins, and He will clothe you with His righteousness. (Gal. 1:4, Is. 61:10)
The Amazon River pours into the Atlantic Ocean such an immense volume of water that for miles out to sea the water remains fresh. It is said that a ship sailing in the ocean near the mouth of the Amazon, had exhausted its supply of fresh water, and signaled to another vessel at a distance, asking for fresh water. The answer was signaled back, "Dip and drink." The captain thought they could not have understood, and signaled again. The same reply came back across the water. In indignation he said, "They say, 'Dip, and drink.' Throw the bucket over and try the water." To their surprise the bucket brought up fresh water, and their thirst was quenched.
Often we think we are in the enemy's land, and the Lord is afar I off; but the stream of the river of life flows by every door. We hare only to "dip and drink," if we wish to be led into the sunlight of God's presence and feel His sheltering care.
Like David we need often to cry, "Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. For Thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle forever: I will trust in the overt of thy wings. Selah." (Ps. 61:2-4)
While the foundation of the Christian church is the teaching of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ is the chief corner-stone, (Eph. 2:20) Christ is "a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious." (1 Peter 2:3,4)
Every soul on earth will sometime come in touch with this Stone. He will either fall on it and be broken, that he may be a new creature in Christ Jesus; or he will reject the Stone, and at last it will fall upon him and destroy him. (Matt. 21:42,44)
Blessed is the one that makes Christ the chief corner-stone in all his daily work. Jesus to-day asks us, as He did Peter of old, "whom say ye that I am?'' Our lives give the answer. Peter's answer was, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matt. 16:16) This answer was given him from the Father.
Christ responded, "Thou art Peter." In these words He acknowledged Peter as His disciple, for He had given him the name of Peter when he called him to follow Him. (John 1:42)
The word "Peter" meant a stone, or a fragment of rock. Christ's manner of teaching was to use earthly things to illustrate heavenly lessons; and He took the name Peter, meaning a fragment of rock, to direct the mind to the solidity of the confession and the stability of the cause which was founded upon "the Rock," Christ Jesus, of which Peter, when he accepted Christ as His Master, became a portion, or fragment. Every true follower of Christ becomes one of the "living stones" in the great spiritual building of God. (1 Peter 2:5)
Christ did not say, On thee, Peter, will I build My church, but immediately changes the expression and says, "Upon this Rock I will build My church." (Matt. 16:13-20)
Centuries before, Isaiah had written, "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation." (Is. 28:16)
Peter and every other son of Adam has failed when tested. Christ is the only one ever born of woman that has withstood every temptation, and is a " tried stone," fit to be the chief corner-stone in the great church of God.
Christ has not placed any mortal man as the foundation of His church. Sad would have been the condition of the church if it had been built upon Peter; for only a short time after he made the above confession, his heart was so full of evil and wrong conclusions that, as the record states, Christ said to him, "Get thee behind Me, Satan:thou art an offense unto Me:for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." (Matt. 16:23)
When the Saviour comes in the clouds of heaven, those who have rejected the Rock, Christ Jesus, will call for the mountains and rocks of earth to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. (Rev. 6:15,16) Our enemies then will witness to the fact that "their rock is not as our Rock." (Duet. 32:31)
"Ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect:for all His ways are judgment:a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He." (Duet. 32:3,4)
"They drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them:and that Rock was Christ." 1 Cor. l0:4.
Ex. 17:6. The rock was smitten to save the people from thirst.
Ps. 78:15, 16. "He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers."
Num. 20:8. "Speak ye unto the rock, and it shall give forth his water."
Heb. 9:28. "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many."
John 7:38. Christ said, "He that believeth on Me, . . . out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
Luke 11:9, 10. "Ask, and it shall be given you, . . . for every one that asketh re-ceiveth."
Stephen Haskell--Table of Contents for His Book "Cross and Its Shadow"
Index Page for "Pioneers' Writings
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