The Smitten Rock

Exodus

The Smitten Rock

October 20th, 1957 @ 8:15 AM

Exodus 17:1-7

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, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought 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 unto this people? they be almost ready 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 Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?
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THE SMITTEN ROCK

Dr. W.A. Criswell

Exodus 17:1-7

10-20-57    8:15 a.m.

 

           

This is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled The Smitten Rock.  In these early morning hours, we are learning a tremendously effective and meaningful truth about the Word of God.  It is this: that the Bible is one book.  It is not two nor is it sixty-six.  It is one book.  It has one message, one Gospel, one revelation.  The New is in the Old concealed, and the Old is in the New revealed.  What was latent in the Old is patent in the New.  And the way God chose to do it was by what we call, in the Old Testament, figures, types, adumbrations. 

            In the Old Testament, God kept His truth in forms, in ceremonies, in rituals, in incidents, in personalities, in historical happenings, and these things all had meaning.  As Paul said, they were examples – ensamples – for us upon whom the end of the ages have come [1 Corinthians 10:11].  So we look into the Old Testament and find there the same Gospel truth that you will find in the New Testament only in the Old Testament it will be in a type, in a figure, in a ceremony.  In the New Testament, it will be fully revealed. Now, we’re still in that process.  God is not done with us yet.  We still have that same sort of type, of figure, of adumbration, and we shall see it especially this morning in this hour’s message. 

            Now I want to plead with our Sunday School teachers about something.  Almost always, you can follow a sermon that I preach in the Bible.  Sometimes I may go too rapidly, and in looking at the passages, you just lose track of the sermon altogether.  But most of the times, you can turn to the place in the Bible and follow it.  Now, if you don’t know the Books of the Bible, you can’t do it.  So a little word to our Sunday School teachers: all of God’s children learn the books of the Bible.  Will you?  All of them so you can just turn to it immediately.  And whatever the book is – Ezra, turn right to it, Zachariah, turn right to it, anywhere, immediately turn to it.  And practice it in your Sunday school classes and Training Union.  Then when we come to church, we’ll have a background for an appreciation of the message from the Word of God. 

            Now, we can follow it this morning easily.  Let’s turn to the third chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Bible, of the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.  The third chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy – Deuteronomy, the third chapter, then, Deuteronomy, the last chapter:  those two chapters we’re going to look at now. 

            In the development of the message this morning is going to be an answer why Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land.  He did something, and that something that Moses did that excluded him from the Promised Land seemed, for the years of my life, to be so trivial – almost nothing.  And I have wondered and wondered why did God exclude Moses whom He talked to face to face [Exodus 33:11].  Why did God exclude Moses from the Promised Land because of, what seemed to me, such a trivial misdemeanor?

            Well, I have found the reason for the first time, and I’m going to do my best to lead us to see it this morning.  Now, I want you to see, first, how earnestly Moses prayed that he might go over this Jordan and enter into that Promised Land.  In the third chapter of Deuteronomy and the twenty-third verse – Deuteronomy 3:23:

 

And I besought the Lord at that time, saying,

"O Lord God, Thou hast begun to shew Thy servant thy greatness, and Thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to Thy works, and according to Thy might?    

I pray Thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon." 

But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the Lord said unto me, "Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto Me of this matter. 

"Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan."

[Deuteronomy 3:23-27]

 

            Now can’t you sense that just by reading it?  Can’t you see the heartthrob of Moses?  "I pray Thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon.  O Lord, please!" [from Deuteronomy 3:23]  I say, you can just feel the heartthrob of Moses as he asks God to let him go over. 

            Now, in the last chapter of Deuteronomy, you have the close of Moses’ life, and it mentions that very thing. 

 

And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho.  And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan,

And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea,

And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. 

And the Lord said unto him, "This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it unto thy seed’ –

And the Lord has never revoked that covenant, "I will give it unto thy seed" –

"I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but" –

and there the Lord says it again –

"thou shalt not go over thither." 

So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. 

And He buried him –

and God buried him –

in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

[Deuteronomy 34:1-6]

 

            There’s a sadness in that that you can’t escape.  With the longing in his heart and the prayer before God’s throne of grace, all of those years and years leading the children out of the land of Egypt across the waters, through the waters of the Red Sea, for forty years in the wilderness, through all of the vicissitudes and fortunes of that wilderness journey up to the Promised Land, then denied entrance.  Now, why?  Well, I say, I have wondered at that for all the years of my life.  Well this morning, we’re going to learn why. 

            Now, let’s turn to the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Exodus and the twentieth chapter of the Book of Numbers.  Now, this is God’s reason why – Exodus 17 and Numbers 20.  In the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Exodus, the second Book of the Bible, in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Exodus:

 

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, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. 

Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, "Give us water that we may drink."  And Moses said unto them, "Why chide ye with me?     Wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?"    

And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, "Wherefore is this that thou hast brought 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 unto this people?     They be almost ready 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 it 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. 

[Exodus 17:1-6]

 

            Now, let’s get that firmly in our minds.  There is dearth and drought.  There is thirst and death.  And God says to Moses, "Moses, take the rod.  I will stand before thee upon the rock in Horeb and thou shalt smite the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people may drink" [from Exodus 17:5-6]. And Moses did so. He smote the rock with the rod of God [Exodus 17:6]. 

Now, the twentieth chapter of the Book of Numbers, the twentieth chapter of the Book of Numbers – Numbers 20: 

 

Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month –

This is the last part of their forty years wandering.  This is about forty years later.  It is not forty years later, but it’s almost forty years later –  

Then came the children of Israel . . . into that same desert of Zin . . .

And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. 

And the people chode with Moses, and spake unto him, saying, "Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!  

"And why have you brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there?    

"And wherefore have you made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us into this evil place? It is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink."

And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: . . .

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,   

" . . . speak ye unto the rock before your eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink."

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?"   

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

And the Lord, and the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, "Because ye believed Me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them."

 [Numbers 20:1-12]

 

            Now, I say, for years, for years I have looked at that, and it was hard for me to see why because he broke that little commandment of the Lord.  God said to him "speak to the rock and it will bring forth abundantly" [Numbers 20:8], but Moses, in his anger, lifted the rod and smote the rock twice [Numbers 20:11] where God had said just speak to the rock.  And because of that, God said, "thou shalt not go over" [Numbers 20:12].  Well, why?  Just for that little error, that human frailty, God denies an entrance into the Promised Land.  Well, I have a reason.  I have an answer why God, for that disobedience, refused Moses entrance into the Promised Land.  And, oh, what a repercussion that has in our lives today!

            Now, all of these things Paul says that happened were ensamples for us upon whom the end of the ages has come [1 Corinthians 10:11].  These things all had a meaning.  When God said to Moses, "Moses, strike the rock and water shall pour forth" [Exodus 17:6], it had a meaning.  God had a meaning in it.   When God said to Moses, "Moses, speak to the rock.  Don’t strike it, smite it; speak to the rock" [Numbers 20:8], God had a meaning in it.  All of these things are types.  They are symbols.  They are figures of great spiritual truth.

            Now, what is this thing that God had in mind and that Moses broke?  All right it is this: that rock is Christ.  You don’t need to turn to it.  Just let me read it.  First Corinthians 10:4: "They all did drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." First Corinthians 10:4: "That Rock was Christ."  That is, it represented Christ.  It is a type of the Lord. 

            Now, to smite that rock was a figure.  It was a type of the death of Christ.  To smite the rock was to smite the Lord.  And out of that riven rock, out of that smitten rock, poured forth salvation, the Holy Spirit of God. 

Now, that is plainly said – you don’t need to turn to this – that is plainly said in the seventh chapter of the Gospel of John and the thirty-seventh, thirty-ninth verses.  "Jesus stood and cried, saying, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink’" [John 7:37], and, "He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.  (This spake He . . .)" – now John is going to interpret the type – "(this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)" [John 7:38-39]  To glorify Jesus was John’s way of saying crucified.  That is, John says Jesus meant, "He that believeth on Me, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water." John says Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit that should pour forth into this world after the death of Jesus. 

            So to smite Christ, the rock – to hit Christ, the rock – was a type, a figure, of the crucifixion or our Lord – His riven side, His death [John 19:33-34].  Out of that death, out of the crucifixion of Christ, there poured forth this gift of the Holy Spirit into the world that brings to us salvation, and regeneration, and cleansing, and the teaching of the Word, and the will of God.  Smite that rock, and out of it shall gush rivers of living water.  So Moses smote the rock, and out of it gushed those rivers of living water [Exodus 17:6]. 

            Christ died one time [1 Peter 3:18].  Christ was crucified one time, and out of that all-sufficient sacrifice – one time – out of that one death of Christ, there poured forth the blessings of God into this earth.  How many times shall Christ die?  How many times shall that rock be smitten?  God said to Moses, "One time.  Moses, strike that rock one time" [Exodus 17:6].  Christ is to die one time.  By one sacrifice, He is forever to put away sins [Hebrews 10:14].  By one atoning death, we are to be saved.  In that one sacrifice of Christ, all of the blessings of Heaven are made available to His children.  He is to die one time.  That rock is to be smitten one time. 

            What did Moses do, then, when he smote the rock again?  God said to Moses, "Moses, not so, not so.  I said to thee, ‘Once the rock is to be smitten,’ and, Moses, thou has struck it twice and thrice as though My Son, in that one death, were not all adequate and all sufficient – as though He should have to die twice and thrice." And a thing that might have been small to Moses was highly important to God for Moses had broken God’s type, God’s figure, God’s message, God’s meaning.  And the Lord was displeased [Numbers 20:11-12].

            Well how does that affect us today?  I want to show you.  If God was highly displeased with Moses for breaking the type, the figure, the symbol, then how God must be highly displeased with us who not only would seek to break the type or the figure or the symbol but to break the actual faith, the actual reality – to make Jesus die twice or thrice!

            Now, let us turn to the Word of the Lord, this all-important passage, the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews.  Now turn to it, the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews – Hebrews number 6, the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews.  This author here is speaking of those who want to go back and lay again the foundation of repentance and faith and baptism.  "For," now look at it in the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the fourth through the sixth verses:

 

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

If they shall fall away –

if it is possible for a man to be lost after he is saved –

If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh –

again, anew, a second time –

and put him to an open shame –

as though, for Jesus, once to die is not enough.

[Hebrews 6:4-6]

 

            Now, do you see it?  Jesus is to die once – once for all, once forever.  And a man can be saved one time, once forever.  And if it is possible for that man to fall away, if it is possible for him having been saved to be unsaved – to be lost again – he can never be saved.  He can never come back because Jesus died one time, and for a man to be saved again, Jesus would have to die again.  And as many times as that man was saved, Jesus would have to die that many times [Hebrews 9:25-26].  That’s what the Book says.  I am no inventor.  I am a voice.  I’m just telling you what God says.

            Now, do you see that?  God said to Moses, "Strike it once" [Exodus 17:6], and out of that one death of Christ are all of the blessings that save our souls.  In the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, Jesus died for us once, and we are saved once; and if it is possible for a man to fall away, He cannot renew him again unto repentance, seeing He would crucify to Himself the Son of God again [Hebrews 6:4-6].  Some of these people say they’ve been saved one time, and two times, and three times, and five times, and six times, and every time they have a revival meeting, they get saved all over again.  That’s what lots of folks believe.  God’s Book says you can’t do that.  You can’t do that.

            That type back there was precious to God and when Moses broke it, God was highly displeased [Numbers 20:7-12].  And God says here that type meant the striking of Christ, the death of Christ.  And out of that one death is the all-sufficient ableness to save us forever.  And if it is possible for a man to be lost after he’s saved, he can’t ever come back; he’s lost forever [Hebrews 6:4-6]. 

            Now, we preach that a man who’s ever been genuinely saved can never be lost.  The Book says the seed of God remaineth in his heart, and it cannot perish; it cannot die.  He may stumble; he may falter; he may fall; he may drift; he may be prodigal, but if he’s ever been saved, he’ll come back home.  He’ll come back.  There’s something in him that never dies.  There’s something in him that cannot die.  "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone pluck them out of My hand" [John 10:28].  "They are My sheep and I know them [from John 10:27], and they may drift in the mountainside and they may wander in the wilderness, but they’ll come back home."

            All right, very hastefully now, I want to say a word going back to my subject.  I want to say a word about what God thinks of His types, of His figures.  Just for the breaking of a type, of a figure, God refused Moses entrance into the Promised Land.  God thinks much, I say, of His types.  For example, in the sixth chapter of the book of Second Samuel, you have the story of Uzzah [2 Samuel 6:1-11]. 

The Philistines put the ark on a cart and sent it back [1 Samuel 6:1-12].  That’s the way an unbeliever, a blaspheme, uncircumcised Philistine would do.  God said to Moses and to Israel, "You’re to carry that ark on your shoulders" – the hands of the priests [Numbers 4:5-6, 15].  But they didn’t pay any attention to the Word of the Lord. So when David sought to take the ark back up to Jerusalem, why they put it on a cart just like the Philistines did [2 Samuel 6:1-3].  God’s people always get into trouble when they start mocking the world. 

            Just like they say to me down here, "Look at that beautiful, beautiful hall you have up there.  I’ll tell you what it would do and you’d get all the young people in this whole town down here at the First Baptist Church.  Shine that beautiful gymnasium floor up, get you a dance band in there, shake a wicked foot, and you’ll have all the young people in the world down here in Dallas."  

Yea – you do that and you’ll lose your church.  Anytime the church begins to imitate and mock and follow after the world, you not going to win the world; the world’s going to drown you.

            That’s what they did here.  The Philistines carried the ark on a cart.  That’s the way Israel was going to do – carry the ark on a cart – going to do just like the Philistines, just like the world.  Why, bless your heart, they got that thing on the cart, and when it began to hit rocks on the road, the ark began to tremble and looked as though it might fall and Uzzah put out his hand to touch it [2 Samuel 6:6-7]  And God said, "Whoever touches the ark shall die" [from Numbers 4:15]. Uzzah put out his hand to steady the ark [2 Samuel 6:6], and God smote him.  "And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of the Lord" [from 2 Samuel 6:7].  These things are meaningful to God.

All right, a second one – another type:

 

For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come. 

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of this bread, and drink of this cup. 

For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 

For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many have died. 

For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  

But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 

[1 Corinthians 11:26-30]

 

            God says here in this Book that over there in Corinth there were many who were weak and sickly and many have died because of the flippant and unworthy way in which they observed the Lord’s Supper [1 Corinthians 11:29-30].  That’s not even in the Old Testament.  That’s in the New Testament.  God has a great liking for His types.  This until Jesus comes.  And when we observe it, we are to do it in all of solemnity and in deep, earnest prayer [1 Corinthians 11:28].

            That’s the reason we don’t observe it every Sunday.  I have observed the observance of the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, and it gets to be routine and ritual, and they do it just like you’d run a slot machine:  pull the lever and away it goes – not that I know anything about slot machines.

            You’re not to do it that way.  You’re not to do it mechanically.  You’re not to do it flippantly or lightly.  You’re not to do it, "let’s hurry and get this over with."  God has a deep regard for His types, and when you do it that way, many among you are weak and sickly and many sleep [1 Corinthians 11:29-30].

            All right, in the moment, just one other.  God has another type, and we’re not to break it:

 

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?    

Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection:

[Romans 6:3-5]

           

            There’s another type.  This represents the burial and the resurrection of our Lord.  This represents our death to the world and our resurrection to a new life in Christ.  This represents our faith: if we die and are buried, we shall live again in His sight. 

            Now, when you break the type, you displease God, and most of the errors that have come into this Christian world have come because of the breaking of the type.  For when they broke that type – upon a confession of faith to be buried with the Lord and to be raised with the Lord – when they broke that type, they made possible an unregenerate church membership.  They made possible the identification of the church with the state.  When you were born in the state, you were enrolled as a citizen.  When when you were born in the country, in the nationality, you were also christened and became a member of the church.  And the power of the state became the power of the church, and we lost freedom of conscience, and we lost the liberty to worship God as we pleased.

Then you have all of those things you see in the world today – state church.  And places like Spain and Bolivia and Peru and a thousand other places where you can’t preach the Gospel, the preacher is put in jail.  You can’t have a seminary; they closed the doors.  You can’t have a church; they padlocked the gates.  Oh, what things have come because of the breaking of the type! 

            All of this, and I have to close, all of this simply means that what God hath written in His Word is precious to the Lord.  And when God says, "strike the rock," then when God says, "don’t strike it again," these things have meaning.  They mean much to God.  When the Lord says, "You’re not to touch the ark as though it were nothing – a common piece of furniture; you’re not to deal with secret things lightly," that’s meaningful to God.  When the Lord says, "In solemnity and deep meaningful significance, you are to observe the memorial of the supper," it means something to God.  And when the Lord says we’re to be buried in the likeness of His death and raised in the likeness of His resurrection, it has a great meaning to God.  When we break the type, we earn the disfavor and displeasure of the Lord.

            I just repeat: every syllable of this Book has a deep and profound meaning, and it is our joy to delight in the precepts of the Lord, to meditate upon them day and night [Psalm 1:2], to give ourselves to them, as the Lord shall give us ableness to learn and to obey. 

            Now, we must sing our song.  Somebody, this morning, to give his heart to the Savior, somebody to come into the fellowship of His church: in the balcony, around, down these stairwells, from side to side here, standing by my side, "Here I come, Pastor. I give you my hand, I give my heart to God.  I’m placing my life in the church." One somebody you or a family you, while we sing this song, you come and stand by me while we stand and sing. 

 

THE SMITTEN ROCK

Exodus 17:1-7

10-20-57

 

I.              The longing of Moses to cross the Jordan

II.            Why denied

1.    Moses told to speak to the rock

2.    Instead Moses struck the rock

3.    Rock already struck once-picture of Christ on the cross

4.    Second time Moses was to speak to the rock – picture that Jesus dies only once for our sins

III.           Types are precious to God

1.    2 Samuel 6:6-7; Uzzah failed the type in touching the ark placed on a cart

2.    1 Corinthians 11:26; communion-bread and cup

3.    Baptism