Other Biblical passages also refer to Him as the “Rock,” such as Psalm 18:2. The reference in 1Corinthians 10:4, however, is fromExodus 17 where Moses struck the rock in Horeb and water gushed forth. But the Bible also says the rock followed them. Are we to imagine this as a “Rock” tumbling along behind them?
The Jewish commentary on the Old Testament is known as the Midrash. It dates back from the time of Ezra. The Midrash explains that this rock itself followed the Israelites in their wanderings. It says the rock was round and rolled like a swarm of bees. When the tabernacle was pitched the rock settled itself in the vestibule, remaining there until the tabernacle was again moved.
Life-giving Water from the Rock
Adam Clarke’s Commentary says that Paul speaks of the rock, but metaphorically he meant the water from the rock, which the Israelites stored up in their skin-bottle containers.
They took their containers with them, and in that sense the rock (the water it produced) came with them. No evidence exists from Scripture that an actual rock followed the wandering Israelites. This calls for another look at 1Corinthians 10:4.
Going to the Greek text, we learn that the objective pronoun “them” is not there. The clause simply reads, “That spiritual Rock which followed,” or a better rendering, “A spiritual following Rock.” (See Companion Bible note.)
Yahshua Is Manifest
Paul mentions four outstanding events occurring to the Israelites.
• They went under a cloud and were protected and guided by a pillar of fire by night and by the cloud in the day.
• They all passed through the sea and by the cloud and sea were metaphorically baptized into Moses.
• They ate the spiritual meat (manna – a miraculous spiritual food which appeared six times a week).
• They drank of the spiritual rock that followed the three other miracles, and had far greater significance for Israel and us.
All of these special events were miracles, and Paul mentions them in the sequence they occurred: The protection of the cloud; crossing the Red Sea; the daily manna. These miraculous acts were all followed by the miraculous water gushing from the Rock. The gushing water came after the three other miracles, showing Yahweh’s care of His people.
Paul clearly identifies the “Rock” as the Messiah. The Apostle John picks up on this theme, showing the New Testament application of this Water of Life that comes from the Savior. Yahshua tells us as well as the woman at the well, “If you knew the gift of Elohim, and Who it is that says to you, Give me to drink; you would have asked of Him, and He would have given you living water” (John 4: 10).
Source of Living Water
Yahshua went on to explain that He was the source of living water, the special water that would quench our spiritual thirst: “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).
Upon the last great day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Yahshua stood and cried out, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believes on Me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet [given]; because that Yahshua was not yet glorified” (John 7:38-39).
Yahweh’s people in the Old Testament were given physical blessings, representative of spiritual blessings available to His faithful followers.
Our decision to obey or not to obey makes all the difference when it comes to what our Savior means to us: “Unto you therefore which believe [He is] precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the Head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed” (lPet. 2:7-8).
Yahshua can be a stone of stumbling, a rock of offense for many who will not accept and follow what He taught. Or He can be the solid Cornerstone when we build our spiritual house upon the Rock of Salvation. It is all up to us.
by Donald R. Mansager