Summary: The once smitten ROCK at Horeb & the ROD of God in Moses hands held high at Amalek. Hollyweird, CA can’t touch this kind of drama! Link inc. to formatted text, audio & video, PowerPoint.
Water and War in the Wilderness
The leader is responsible for the followers to some degree. True, each one has personal responsibility, but ultimately someone must be held responsible and accountable. Also, he is responsible for their care and meeting their needs.
Question: Who is the leader in Exodus 17? Who has led Israel into the wilderness? Is it Moses? Or is it God? The people keep blaming Moses for anything that goes wrong. But Moses is just following God like they are. He’s a human instrument, and the focal figure in their eyes, but he’s not in charge calling the shots. God is in charge and remember, the One in charge is responsible to meet the needs of the followers.
Moses strikes the Rock, a picture of Jesus, because he is told to. However, 40 years later at the end of their wilderness experience they again need water and they complain to him and it seems to go to his head...maybe their griping got to him...because he takes the reins from God and assumes leadership of the people for a moment, aside from God:
10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? 11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
God said, because ye have done this, you won’t enter into the Promised Land. God takes His types and symbols seriously, and Moses just ruined the beautiful type of the once smitten Savior and Rock, Jesus. This time he was only supposed to speak to the rock. You see, Jesus has already been smitten and died for us, and now, anyone can simply call on the name of the Lord and be saved!
But in Exodus 17 they are just starting out in the wilderness, and Moses is following God as he leads the people. He’s just like them in nature, but in his hand is the rod of God, and as he lifts it high among the people they prevail and flourish. He is their pastor, lifting up the words of God and leading them where he himself is being led. So they must lift up his hands...he needs their help!
But they are not behind him; rather, they are considering executing him!
v. 4 Most preachers would say to their desert deacon board at this point: “Gentlemen, I feel called to pursue another ministry at this time!” But Moses brought his burden to the Lord...he didn’t quit!
Christian, don’t quit on God when something goes wrong. The measure of your character is what it takes to get you to quit. The devil has a plan to get you out of church and away from God. Will you let him have his way?
God tells Moses to do 2 things:
1. Take up your Rod.
v. 5 This is the same rod [staff] that was given to him when he returned to Egypt to deliver God’s people. Now it’s his badge and seal. It represents authority and the power of Almighty God. It symbolizes God’s Word which we are to lift high and look unto. I hold in my hand today the Rod of God! It represents authority and the power of Almighty God. It’s sharper than any two edged sword. The rod which divided the waters at the Red Sea is capable of dividing between soul and spirit...it points at each of us and gets to the heart of the matter.
And the reason I can come today to you and preach clearly, boldly, and without apology is because what I hold in my hand is the infallible, inerrant Word of the only one true Jehovah God! Without this I’m just giving a talk, a lecture. Without this we’re all just taking a walk. But with this rod in my hand I can be a leader of people as I am a follower of God, and simply lift high His Words for all of us to look to!
And YOU have the rod of God as well. I think you should carry it with you to church and anywhere else you can. Hold it high if you have it today. Now only those with red [read] Bibles lift them up. [What? The rest of you don’t read yours?!]
The first thing God tells Moses to do is to take up the rod...
2. Go to the Rock!
Isn’t a rock the last place you’d go to for water? I don’t even think you can get ‘hard water’ from a rock. You can’t get blood from turnips or OJ from a doorknob, and certainly not water from a rock.