Chapter 49: At the Feast of Tabernacles

July 11, 2009

“The priest had that morning performed the ceremony which commemorated the smiting of the rock in the wilderness. That rock was a symbol of Him who by His death would cause living streams of salvation to flow to all who are athirst. Christ’s words were the water of life. There in the presence of the assembled multitude He set Himself apart to be smitten, that the water of life might flow to the world.” DA483

This chapter is different in that it is less of a narrative with commentary and more descriptive. This paragraph of commentary stood out to me because of its link to the story of Moses and the description of what the symbols mean.

Water from the rock happened twice (or is the same event recorded twice).  The first incident is in the Valley of Sin and God told Moses to strike the rock with his rod. Moses did, so no sin there. The second time, this time in the Valley of Zin, God told Moses to “take the staff… speak to the rock… and you will bring water out from the rock.” (Num. 20:6-8).

It has struck me before that jounalistic linear exactitude isn’t the usual intent for the writers of the Bible. I have many questions about why God’s first instruction was to take the staff if He expected Moses to speak to the rock. I also wonder why God said “you will bring water out from the rock” if He was expecting Moses to credit Him with the miracle. Maybe there is more to the story than is written.

Back to the symbols Ellen White employs. I love them. The rock that was struck represents Jesus and the water represents his life giving words (The Word of life according to John).  Recall, however, that Moses was intended only to speak to the rock rather than strike it twice. What would this have symbolized if it has gone as God had planned? My perspective is that it was not God’s first plan for Christ to die on the cross but on the alter in the temple. This flows from my belief that God intended Israel to be chosen and faithful and to finally receive Jesus as the Messiah when He came to earth. I don’t know how this would have played out. Christ would have still died for our sins, but maybe it was not His original intent to be smitten dead by Satan through his chosen people. Maybe it would have been by the word of God through the high priest on the alter where lambs had been offered for hundreds of years.

I know this is a reach that builds from many of the conditional promises of the prophets that seem to point to a very different end to Israel’s calling as chosen people. It builds from the premise that they were not chosen for the purpose of rejection of Christ, but for acceptance of Him as the Messiah. But they did not accept Christ. Moses did strike the rock. Satan struck down Jesus through His chosen people. And we are blessed today with living water gushing forth in the Word of Christ because of it. Will you bring your thirst to this Rock and this Word?

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