And That Rock Was Christ
October 23rd, 1955 @ 10:50 AM
1 Corinthians 10:1-4
AND THAT ROCK WAS CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 10:1-4
10-23-55 10:50 a.m.
You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in downtown Dallas. And this is the pastor bringing the morning message in the tenth chapter of the first Corinthian letter. And you may follow it in your Bible as we break for our souls the manna of heaven, the bread of life, the first Corinthian letter. Last Sunday we left off with the last verse of the ninth Chapter. And, today, at this morning hour we begin with the first verse of the tenth chapter,
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be without knowledge, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
And did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: And That Rock Was Christ.
That’s our passage and our text. The whole pericope, the whole cut out section, would be from 1 Corinthians 9:24 through 10:13. That’s the section there if you put it all together. And in that section Paul is writing to the church at Corinth saying that it is possible for them to fall even though they are Christians.
He uses two illustrations and they are terrifying. The first one is himself. Starting there at the ninth chapter, look at the ending of that chapter, the twenty-seventh verse, he says,
I must keep under my body in self-control and in discipline lest, even I, having preached the gospel to others and having, in the power of God, performed miracles, lest even I should be a castaway.
Not that his soul would be damned, but his life bespoiled, and his life ruined, and his ministry made derelict and worthless. There’s a little saying, a quotation, "What shall the lamb do if the ram trembles?" If it were possible even for Paul to become a castaway in his life, what of us in our lives? That’s his first one.
And his second one is that, even the fathers of Israel, with all of their privileges, they fell. They were denied entrance into the Promised Land. They sinned away the opportunities in the wilderness.
Now, I’m not preaching of that this morning. That’s the passage, I spake of that last Sunday. Today, I want to take the illustration that he uses of the fathers, and you will see in it that he is depicting here a privilege of the fathers, the fathers of Israel. And he says that is a type of the privilege that you have as Christians in the church of God. So, he begins,
Brethren, I would like to call to your attention by way of remembrance, could I say, that our fathers were under the cloud, passed through the sea, all baptized under Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
He finds in that story of the children of Israel, being pressed against the Red Sea by Pharaoh’s army when Moses was leading them out of the land of Egypt, he finds in that incident a type, a parable, a picture of the ordinance of baptism. "They were all baptized," he says, Paul says.
And he gets that picture from this. The cloud of the Lord was over them, and they themselves were in the midst of the sea, and his picture is that submerged in the element of water, the cloud of water above them, the great wall of the sea around them, they were all submerged in the element of water and were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. That is, they were baptized into the fellowship, a redeemed people of Moses, and as such, were called of God to follow Moses as their God-given leader. It was a commitment on their part to the leadership of God’s man, Moses.
Now, he says, that that is a picture of baptism. They were baptized in the cloud and in the sea. Then, he finds also a picture of the Lord’s Supper back there among the fathers. Now, "they did all eat the same spiritual meat and did all drink the same spiritual drink." He finds back there in the story of the fathers, he finds a type, an analogy of the Lord’s Supper: breaking bread and eating and drinking of the fruit of the vine. He finds an analogy back there.
He says that this manna that they ate was spiritual food, God-given food. The seventy-eighth chapter of the Book of Psalms, twenty-fourth, twenty-fifth verses calls it "bread of heaven", and, in the next verse, "angel’s food." They did all eat the same spiritual meat. They ate manna and did all drink the same spiritual drink. For he says, "They drank of that spiritual rock that followed them and that rock was Christ." He says that there is a picture back there of those two ordinances.
And could I, incidentally, say this is the only place in the Bible where the two ordinances are mentioned together? And could I also make this addendum: there are just two; there are not three; there are not four; there is not one; there are two ordinances and only two. And they’re put, here, together in the baptism in the Red Sea, a picture of the baptism of the Christian in the Corinthian church, and in the eating of the manna and in the drinking of the rock a picture of the Lord’s Supper, which is an ordinance of the Christian people in the Corinthian church. Now, he uses those two as a type of the great privileges of the fathers. And he uses it as the type of the great privileges of the Christians in the church of the Lord.
Now, I want to take from that. I want to take from that his observation. "They all did drink the same spiritual drink, for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them And that rock was Christ." Wherever they journeyed in the wilderness there was the supply of water flowing freely, fully, and they drank of that rock, And, he says, that rock was Christ.
Now, the first thing that you will see in that is the tense of the verb. that rock was Christ. He means by that that the source of the feeding and the caring for and the sustenance of the people of God was the Lord Jesus Christ. The rock out of which they drank was Christ. He believed then in the pre-existence of the Son of God. He believed that that glorious Lord who guided those people through the wilderness, who sustained them and blessed them, that Lord was Jesus the Christ. that rock was Christ.
Now, sometimes I have the hardest time trying to leave out, leave out, leave out in order to encompass in a little moment of time these things of the Book. But I thought this morning, "I’m not going to leave this out." I want to show you how you can read the Bible, how to interpret the Word of God. I say, I said a while ago, I said that Paul meant that it was Christ Himself who was the source of that spiritual drink and that spiritual food that sustained the fathers in the wilderness because of the tense of the verb that he used, And that rock was Christ.
Now, had Paul said and that rock is Christ, he would have meant by it that the rock typifies Christ. It is an allegory. It is a parable. But, when he says, "The rock was Christ," he means that the pre-existent Lord, the Savior, was back there guiding and sustaining His people.
Well, you look at this just for a minute as we learn to read the Book. Whenever a thing back yonder is used, is described in the present tense, why, it means it is a type. It’s not the actual thing. It is a type. For example, in the fourth chapter of the Book of Galatians, Paul says that Sarah and Hagar are the two covenants, the Old Covenant and the New. And he uses the word present tense "are" and "is." Look here, in Galatians 4:24 and following,
Which things are an allegory; for these are the two covenants; the one from Mount Sinai which gendereth to bondage, which is Hagar.
For this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia.
Now, a woman is not a mountain. But, you see, in doing types, allegory, parable, you use the word in the present tense,
This Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem, which now is
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all, and so on.
Now, may I take another one? You take Jesus’ interpretation of the parables in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew. Now, look at Him, as He will interpret a parable. Look at the tense of His verbs. Now, He’s going to interpret the parable of the sower. Now, in the nineteenth verse, "The sower went out to sow." "This is he which received by the wayside." Now, then, the stony place, "The same is he that heareth the word." Now, the twenty-second verse, the one among thorns.
He also that receives seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word and the care of the world, takes it away.
But he that receives seed into good ground is he that heareth the word,.
Turn in your thirteenth chapter as He explains the parable of the tares. Listen to Him, "He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man." "The field is the world," that is, it represents; it’s a type; it’s a parable of. The good seed are the children of the kingdom. The tares are of the children of the wicked one. Then the one that sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world and the reapers are the angels.
What I’m trying to say is that, whenever, in the Bible, they are speaking of types and parables, they use the present tense. For example, something comes into my mind, When Joseph interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh he said, "the seven lean kind are seven years of famine, the seven fat kind, the seven fat cattle, are the seven years of plenty. The withered stalks of corn are seven years of famine and the fat years are the seven years of plenty" [Genesis 41:25-27]. So, whenever He speaks of a type, of a parabolic presentation, He will use the word is. That’s true all through the Bible.
But, when I turn to my text, you look at this, he doesn’t say that. They all did drink of that spiritual drink back there. They drank of that rock that followed them and that rock was Christ! That rock was Christ! Not is! It is typified, is a parable of, symbolic of. But, no, that rock was Christ. The source of the feeding of the people and the sustaining of the people and the caring of the people was the Son of God.
Now, if I had about an hour, why, we’d go back there. But, we’re going to take what time is left and we’re going to read that story and look at that rock. It’s in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Exodus. And it’s the rock of Rephidim. And this is the story.
And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the Wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the Lord, they pitched their tents in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. Exodus 17.
Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide you with me? wherefore do you tempt the Lord?" as though the Lord was not going to remember.
And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Why brought you us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?
And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, What shall I do? What shall I do, for they be almost ready to kill me, to stone me?
And the Lord said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.
Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
And he called the name of the place Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?
Now, that’s the story. Now, the Lord Christ was there, Paul says, and was the source of that water of which those people did drink.
So, let’s look at this Christ, the rock. First of all, it says here they were in that burning and pitiless desert, rock burning sand. Rephidim is a little plain, a flat, level place in a whole world of barren and burning rock and the great plains of Horeb, of which Mount Sinai is one piece, the great plains of Horeb are all around. And when you look at those people gathered there in the arm of that burning desert, Arabian sun, and those people are dying of thirst. You look upon them and upon the rocks and the mountains and burning sand, and you say, "Could even God Himself find a flood out of the sand that burns and out of these adamantine mountains?" But, in those rocks and in that burning sand and in that great, great desert there is a flood. There is the presence of Christ the Son of God.
And that is true with the Son of God today. In His generation they looked upon Him and said, "This man, Jesus of Nazareth, why, we knew His father, the carpenter, and we have taken yokes to Him and He’s made them and fashioned them for us. And His mother is right here. And there are His sisters and here are His brothers. How could He be the Son of God?"
And even in our own generation, all of you who have been to Palestine can look at those places, where they say, "This is where He was born and this is where He was reared and this is where His shop was and these are the roads that He walked." You can look at that barren and burning and blistered and desert land and say, "Out of this country and out of these people and out of this humble man, how could there come living water, living rivers of water to feed and to care and to sustain the thirstings of all of the generations of man?"
But, it’s God. It’s God. And the water that burst forth in Rephidim is from our Savior. And from Him come those floods of water today and it is miraculous. It’s marvelous in our sight.
Look again here. Look again here. And the rock must be smitten. "Thou shalt smite the rock" [Exodus 17:6]. We are saved by the smiting of the Son of God. "The Lord looked upon Him smitten of God and afflicted" [Isaiah 53:4]. "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him" [Isaiah 53:10]. By his staff are we saved. It is the smitten rock. It is the cleft rock. It is the rock that is struck that becomes the source of the spiritual saving of the people of God.
Back yonder, all of those old patriarchs and those old saints and those fathers who went up in the glory, they were saved by looking toward the smitten Lord Jesus. "Abraham rejoiced to see His day and he saw it and was glad" [John 8:56]. And all of us are saved by looking back to the smitten rock: the Lord Jesus Christ. We are saved by His death. We are healed by His stripes.
Had the Lord remained on His throne in glory, He would never have been our Savior. That exalted head could not save apart from the pierced throne-crowned brow. That hand that held the scepter and that holds the seven stars could never save us were it not nailed to the Cross. And that glorious body, clothed in the clouds of heaven, the shekinah glory of God could never have been our Savior had it not been submitted to the ignominious shame of being naked and broken and nailed to the tree. We are saved by the smitten rock. We are saved by the sufferings of the Son of God.
Look again, "Thou shalt take thy rod with thee and smite the rock." He is smitten by the rod of the lawgiver. Who killed the Lord Jesus Christ? All the Jews dragged Him to trial and the Gentiles procurator condemned Him to death. And these solders of Roman legionnaires slew Him on the Cross.
Nay, the Son of God was struck and He was smitten and He suffered under the legal hands of Almighty God! "It pleased the Father to bruise Him" [Isaiah 53:10]. He made His soul an offering for our sins. It was the Lord God, says Paul in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, "it was God who freely gave up His Son for us all. And who freely, through Him, will give us all things." [Romans 8:32] It was not Herod. It was not Pilate. It was not Annas. It was not Caiaphas. It was not Judas. Finally, it was the rod of the great lawgiver that slew our Lord and our Savior. And we are saved not only by the scourging of the whip, by the pressing of the crown of thorns on His brow and by the nails in His hands, but, we are saved also by the pouring out of His soul unto death when He cried: "My Father, my God, why hath Thou forsaken Me?" [Mark 15:34]
The smitten rock with the rod of the lawgiver, He died for our sin in our stead. We have broken the law. We are subject unto death, and He received that penalty, that smiting in our stead. It is the smitten rock, it is the smitten rock that yields spiritual power and sustenance and saving for the people of God.
Look again, it was public, "And the Lord said unto Moses, Go before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel." The rock was smitten openly and publicly, before all of the people, as they looked upon it, and before the chosen leaders of Israel, as they watched it publicly, offered up, publicly.
One of the most eloquent things in the Bible is in the twenty-sixth chapter of the Book, of the Book of Acts, where Paul is pleading the gospel of Christ before Festus, procurator of Judea, and Herod Agrippa, who is the king of all the country round about. And while he is pleading the name of Christ, Festus speaks up and said, "Paul, Paul, thou art mad. Much learning doth make thee mad." And Paul replied, "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak words of truth and soberness.
And the king here, King Agrippa, he knows of the truth of these things of which I speak, for they are not hidden from them. For this thing was not done in a corner. It was done openly." Christ was made a spectacle before the world, before the eyes of all who cared to see that awful shame and that day of sorrow and darkness. He was crucified on a little summit called Golgotha, just outside the Damascus Gate.
And the Sanhedrin was there, and the elders were there, and the priests were there, and the rich man was there, and the poor man was there, and the thief was there, and the sojourner was there. It took place during the days of the Passover. And the Edomites were there, and the Parthians and the Greeks and the Romans and the dwellers of Mesopotamia. The whole world was there, looking upon the smiting of the Son of God by the rock, by the rod of the lawgiver. It was done openly and publicly. There He died, raised between the earth and the sky.
And Deity was there. "And I will stand before Thee, there, upon Horeb" [Exodus 17:6]. The great God and Father who guides the destiny of this world, He was there looking upon it all, seeing it all. The Lord was there. The sun was clouded in darkness and refused to shine. And the rocks were red. And the graves were open. And God saves a world from the dead. And a veil was rent in twain, and the multitude was terrified.
God was there overlooking it all. "Behold, I will stand before thee, there upon the rock in Horeb. Thou shalt smite it with thy rod and water shall come out of it. Water, water of life that the people may drink. And that rock was Christ. And the water that came out is for the spiritual feeding and nourishing of God’s people in the earth.
Paul, referring to it here in 1 Corinthians, said, "They did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them; And that rock was Christ." There was an ever-flowing stream. It didn’t abate. It didn’t wane. Wherever they journeyed, there was that river in the desert, fresh and cool, sparkling and clear, the reviving of the soul and of the body, water enough. The water of life, And that rock was Christ.
So it is that the flow has continued ever since, and forever will. In our ten thousand journeys, in our wandering through the sea and through the desert, there does Christ accompany us, always present, our strength and our comfort. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me." [Psalm 23:4] They drank of that spiritual rock that followed them And that rock was Christ. "The same yesterday and today and forever," the source of our spiritual hope and our glorious incomparable salvation.
While we sing our song of invitation this morning, somebody you, somebody you to give your heart to the Lord, to put your life in His church, to drink of that Spiritual Rock and to feed upon that Spiritual Manna. While we sing this appeal this day this morning, this gracious hour of grace, would you come? Make it now.
On the radio, where you, where you sit to listen today, if you would give your heart to Christ, kneel down by your chair and tell the Lord this day, this hour, "I take the Lord as my own Savior." Looking on the service on television, if you’ve never yielded your heart to Christ, look to Him now. Look and live.
The source of all spiritual blessings, the fountain head of the cleansing of our sins, the washing away of our iniquities, the hope of someday seeing God face to face, without stain, without blemish, for He is our salvation and our hope.
While we sing the song, while we make appeal, for our people pray and terry before the Lord, in that top most balcony, we will wait for you. Come down that stairwell, and come and stand by me. In this great balcony around and on this lower floor, you, somebody you, "Today, Pastor, today, I give Christ my heart and my life. I, too, shall eat of the manna of heaven and drink of that spiritual rock. Here is my family, pastor; we’re all coming together today." As God shall say the words, make the appeal; press it to your heart, would you make it now? Would you make it now, while we stand and while we sing?
ROCK WAS CHRIST
is depicting a privilege of the fathers of Israel, a type of the privilege we
have as Christians in the church of God
pressed against the Red Sea by Pharaoh’s army – parable of the ordinance of
1. Cloud of the Lord
over them, and they in the midst of the sea
2. Baptized into the
fellowship, a redeemed people of Moses
they ate was spiritual food, and drank the same spiritual drink – picture of
the Lord’s Supper(Psalm 78:24-25)
Wherever they journeyed in the wilderness there was a supply of water flowing
freely – they drank of that rock, and that rock was Christ
a thing is described in the present tense, it is a type(Galatians 4:24-26, Matthew 13, Genesis 41:25-27)
story of the rock of Rephidim(Exodus 17)
II. Christ, the rock
flood, even in the desert
rock must be smitten
are saved by the smiting of the Son of God(Isaiah
Patriarchs, fathers, saved looking toward smitten Rock(John 8:56)
We are saved by looking back to the smitten Rock
by the rod of the lawgiver
Jews dragged Him to His trial – but the act an act of God(Isaiah 53:10, Romans 8:32)
saved not only by the scourge of the whip, by the pressings thorns, and by the
nails, but by the pouring out of His soul(Mark
was smitten publicly(Acts 26:24-29)
Deity above it all – God was there
The life-giving flood for the perishing
Enough for all Israel, all the way
Flows forever – the power of His presence attending us(Psalm 23:4)