Pictures of Christ: Water From the Rock

 

 Exodus 17:1-7

To understand the fullness of the water from the Rock it is often helpful to see the Jewish celebration attached to it. Since Jesus attended and participated in these celebrations it is even more imperative to know and understand why.

 While water was being sold to thirsty pilgrims, as they came to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Tabernacles, our Lord stood in the Temple area and cried out, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink."(John 7:37) To the woman from Sychar He said, "But whosoever drinks 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." (John 4:14)

 The first real test for the children of Israel when they came out of Egypt was this very point. God had opened the waters of the Red Sea to let them out of Egypt. He then closed the same waters behind them to keep them from ever getting back into Egypt. They then sang the first song in the Bible, as they stood on the wilderness shore of the sea. ‘Then they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?’ (Exodus 15:22,24) In Egypt they could always look down to the Nile. That river, the longest in the world, had provided everything that they ever needed. The ancients used to say, and rightly so, " Egypt is the gift of the Nile." But now, a mighty change ensues. These people, redeemed by blood and by power, find themselves in "the waste howling wilderness."(Deut. 32:10)

 Up until now, they had always looked down. From this time on, they were to look up. Their food came down from above. Their guidance came down from above. The desert would provide nothing. All that they were to need for the journey would be met out of a gracious God's fullness. But, in spite of this, we have the record of seven times when they murmured. The fourth book of the Bible has not only been called the book of "Numbers." It has also been called by some, "the book of Murmurs." They murmured against God, they murmured against Moses, they murmured against Aaron. To murmur means, "to mutter, to grumble, to be discontented. In answer to their question, "What shall we drink?" God gave them water from a most unlikely source - a flinty rock! And the New Testament teaches that "they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." (I Cor. 10:4)

 The Water from the Rock in Exodus 17 is celebrated by the Jews at Tabernacles. This re-enactment of the Water from the Rock in Exodus 17 is known as Simcha Bet Ha-sho-evah (the Rejoicing of the House of Drawing Water).

o        This special ritual prophetically illustrates the time when the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon Israel.
o        It also illustrates the truth that Jesus Christ, the Giver of living water, probably came to earth at Sukkot. So the Feast of Tabernacles “the Word became flesh and   TABERNACLED among us” takes on a whole new meaning! Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water. ..Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:10, 13-14 NKJV).

 We have seen Christ's ministry on the cross was vividly portrayed by the rituals surrounding Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First fruits. There's one other image we need to get from the Temple celebrations. It is the one which commemorates the drawing of water from the rock at Horeb (Ex. 17:1-7). On the morning of the first day of the festival called Sukkot or Tabernacles, and every day thereafter, a priest carried a large golden ewer from the Temple mount down to the spring of Siloam. As he walked he was surrounded by jubilant worshipers who followed him as he drew water from the pool of Siloam.

 The route back to the Temple led through the water gate, and into the inner court. There in that grand courtyard of Herod’s gigantic Temple, a huge cheering crowd always waited near the altar. As the water bearing priest approached the altar, the ceremonial silver trumpets were sounded. Then would come the priests chanting the words of Isaiah:

"Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation" (12:3 NKJV).

 Now here is the unforgettable significance of this moment.   In Isaiah 12:3 the word for "salvation" in Hebrew is Yeshua. This is exactly the same word in Hebrew we translate as "Jesus." With that in mind think again of the scene. On the first through the sixth days, the priest and his joyful processional circled the altar once, but on the seventh day, they circled the altar seven times! All those times a whole group of priests are loudly affirming that with joy all were to draw water from the wells of JESUS!

 The highlight of the ceremony occurred when the priest stood and poured the water on the altar. While the water washed away the blood of the morning's sacrifices, a long line of priests, all bearing willow branches, sang psalms of praise. The Talmud describes the ceremony in detail, including a portrait of venerable sages juggling lighted torches and performing somersaults as part of the celebration. The experience was one of intense and total joy, so much so that the Talmud says whoever has not been in Jerusalem for this ceremony has not experienced real joy!

 Now get the scene in your hearts with me:

o        Like all devout Jewish men, Jesus attended the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.
o        On the last day of one Sukkot festival, He stood and cried out to the crowd: "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37-38 NKJV). The apostle John goes on to explain that Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit, which had not yet been given.
o        Can't you just see it? Jesus and His disciples had just attended the glorious celebration inside the Temple. They had sung psalms with the priests, had perhaps followed the golden ewer of water seven times around the altar as they chanted Isaiah 12:3 “draw water from YESHUA (Jesus)”.
o        Then Jesus and His disciples watched the liquid stream over the altar, cleaning away the blood of goats and rams from the morning sacrifices. As the rustlings of a thousand palms filled the air, foreshadowing the palms that would be lifted to hail Him when He would enter Jerusalem to die at Passover, Jesus spoke in a commanding voice and explained the ritual the Jews had just witnessed.
o        “If any thirst LET THEM COME TO ME! He was the Light of the World, the Living Water, the Word made flesh to dwell among them. He would soon be the Passover Lamb, the Bread Without Leaven, the First fruits. As our sinless High Priest, He would atone for sin once and for all.
o        Hundreds in the Temple that day heard Him ...but only those with understanding believed. Do you? For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring. -Isaiah 44:3 NKJV

 1 Cor 10:1-4; Deut 32:15 (Rock of Salvation); 2 Sam 22:2 (Lord is rock of his defense); Ps 95:1 (Rock of Salvation); Isa 32:2 (water from rock); Matt 16:18 (upon this rock)...

o        Who is the rock? Jesus Christ. Mt 21:44 (shattered by it).
o        The Rock was smitten; Isa 53:45.
o        The water (Holy Spirit) does not come until the rock is smitten!
o        Holy Spirit is “poured out” (Acts 2:18; John 7:37, 38, 39).
o        The rod speaks of judgment.

 

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