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. (Exodus 17:5, 6)

This is the first mention of the “rock” and the “water” that came out of the rock. What does the rock represent? We are not left to guesswork or our own speculation or our own wisdom. The Holy Spirit of God explains it in 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 which tells us, “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”

The bread that Israel ate was manna, which was a picture of Christ, the Bread of Life. Christ is also the Water of Life, and the rock is a picture of Him. It contrasts the unbelief of the people (you see, they doubted God here) with the solid rock. Israel was leaning on cobwebs and broken reeds. The small cloud of doubt was hiding the face of God from them.

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. I do not mean to be facetious, but you could not even get hard water from a rock. Jesus is a Rock, but His beautiful life and durability will not save you. His teachings will not redeem your soul. The application of the principles taught by the Lord Jesus may polish you a little, but He is still the 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.

In Numbers we are told a second time that the children of Israel complained that they had no water. The first time Israel murmured about being thirsty God told Moses to strike the rock and water gushed forth. In Numbers, however, God gives Moses different instructions. God tells Moses: “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” (Numbers 20:8). Moses was to speak to the rock because the rock had already been smitten. Christ was crucified nineteen hundred years ago, and when He said on the Cross, “It is finished …” (John 19:30), it was indeed finished. Christ does not have to be crucified again. God is satisfied with what Jesus did for you. The question is, “Are you satisfied with the work Christ did for you on the Cross?” He died to save you. All that God is asking is that you believe in His Son.

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 brim full. The stream is bank full. The world is not able to contain it. But in spite of that, there are many men’s souls that are shriveled up and tongues that are parched. Millions of people are dying for want of spiritual drink. The channel is blocked, log-jammed by doubts, corroded by sin, and insulated by indifference. The channel is also dammed by those who profess to know Jesus Christ but who in reality do not know Him.

Friends, I am disturbed and distressed as I look about. The world is thirsty. I ask you personally and particularly, have you been to that smitten Rock for a drink of living water? God says if you drink of that water you will never thirst again.

—From Edited Messages on Exodus by J. Vernon McGee