The first 18 chapters of Exodus introduces us to the person and life of Moses, the most important Old Testament figure to most ancient Israelites. He brought judgment on Egypt, and was part of the greatest miracle of the Old Testament–the Exodus and crossing of the Red Sea. But his time with the Hebrews in the desert was a mixed bag, and his unbelief at a critical moment brought him trouble in the end.
When we see the Liberty Bell, Declaration of Independence, Washington crossing the Delaware, we think of the birth of America.
When Israel looked back at the beginning of their nation, they remembered one thing–the Exodus!
Exodus (the book) tells us that story, and it introduces us to Moses, the central figure of the Old Testament to the Hebrews. He was the first mediator between God and man. He was the mediator of God’s judgment on Egypt, and the deliverer of God’s people.
Background. Before Moses came, things were looking bad. The Pharaohs enslaved the Hebrews and put harsh demands on them. In the meantime, though, God was raising up the deliverer to bring them out of Egypt–Moses.
God met Moses at the burning bush, where Lord told Moses that He would use him to deliver them. Moses argued. And when he asked the Lord who was sending him to Pharaoh, Lord said, “I am Who I Am.” (Jesus referred to that a few times….)
That led to the Great Face-off Between Moses and Pharaoh, with Moses telling Pharaoh that God was saying to let His people go! The 10 Plagues not only hurt Egypt, but mocked its gods.
The final judgment was a prophetic picture of what was going to happen to Jesus, and the Hebrews were saved by the blood of a lamb–just like us. (I Corinthians 5:7)
Once they got to other side safely, they began walk in wilderness that lasted 40 years. A lot happened in the wilderness. But for now, here are a few highlights.
God had just done the biggest miracle in history, getting them out of Egypt and through the Red Sea, Their response to their first trial of not finding drinkable water was not to trust in God and to complain against Moses.
Then they got hungry and needed food. So God sent them manna–the Bread of Life. Jesus called Himself Bread of Life. This was first a direct reference to this provision, plus a reference to the “I AM” name that the Lord gave Himself.
In the middle of all that, there was an event that seemed small at the time. They again ran into the water problem. God told Moses that HE would stand on the rock, and that Moses should strike the rock. God was identifying himself with the Rock, taking the place of the accused, and was symbolically receiving a punishment that Moses was giving out. It was punishment for the people’s unbelief!
It’s a picture of the crucifixion of Christ. God is our Rock–mentioned many times in Scripture in various ways. And yet here He takes the blows that He doesn’t deserve to provide living water for His people.
Why did Moses have to be the one to strike the Rock? Moses was the Great Law-Giver to Israel, and the law of God demanded that sin be atoned for through the death of an innocent sacrifice.
Look ahead…when that Rock was struck and Jesus was sacrificed for us, the waters of the Holy Spirit were opened to us.
Later, in Numbers, when they were looking for water, the Lord told Moses to gather the people, take his rod and SPEAK to the Rock. Instead, he struck it twice! For that disobedience (Numbers 20:12), Moses couldn’t go into the Promised Land.
This was a strongly prophetic incident. Moses striking the Rock once 39 years earlier was a sign of Jesus’ sacrifice, which was done once, for all sin, for all time. There is nothing more that God needs to do. There is nothing more that WE need to do except speak to the Rock–talk to the Lord, and receive the Holy Spirit, receive forgiveness.
Just speak. All punishment has been given out–to Jesus! Speak to the Rock of Christ. Watch the waters flow when you do that! (I Peter 3:18)