When God made water come out of a rock to provide for the people of Israel, he was sending a message which is right up there with fire-by-night and cloud by day. The earth is at his beck and call. With a tap of his hand or a simple word, anything can happen…
1 The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”
Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”
3 But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”
4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
5 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. 6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
The story of water from the rock at Massah and Meribah is a story of God’s provision. There was no water for them to drink in the desert, and God told Moses to strike the rock with his staff and water would come out. My reflection, though, relates to what God can do with rocks…
In Numbers 20, Moses gets in trouble in this same area. The first time God told him to use his staff. The next time Israel comes to this place (as they complete the big circle of wandering), Moses does things his way. And his consequence is that he doesn’t enter the promised land.
God is the author of our protection and salvation and sustenance. Not us. And when we build up self-importance, we run the risk of missing God’s blessing for us.
It comes down to this: God can make water come from a rock, and he can raise up people from dust. He could replace Moses or Aaron with a wave of his sovereign hand, and he could do the same with me.
Water from the rock illustrates that the world is at the hand of God. We we think that our ingenuity has paid off or that we can figure out solutions if we really put our minds to it, God can solve our problems with the tap of a rock or a word to the wind and waves.
That’s why the rocks cry out… they know the true and living God.