1 Corinthians 10:1-4. For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
Everyone who left Egypt received the blessings of leaving Egypt. All were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all ate the spiritual food and drank the spiritual water (they were spiritual because they came from the Holy Spirit miraculously).
Everyone that came out of Egypt was baptized into Moses. That is, they were identified with him and with the covenant that God made with Moses.
In the same way all that are baptized into Christ are one with Christ.
Galatians 3:27. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Every Christian is born again by the Spirit. They are baptized by the Spirit into the New Covenant. They are identified with Christ forever.
Paul is working hard to connect Israel’s experience to ours as Christians. Israel’s experience physically, becomes a picture of our experience spiritually.
- Israel went through the Red Sea to escape Egypt and enter freedom. The Church enters freedom from slavery to sin through the baptism of the Spirit.
- Israel was led by the cloud, which was the manifestation of Yahweh. The Church is led by the Spirit of Christ who is Yahweh.
- Israel ate the life giving spiritual bread and drank the life giving spiritual water provided by God in the wilderness. We “eat” the life giving Bread of Life, Jesus Christ. We drink the Living Water. We participate spiritually in his life through union with Christ. All of this is represented in our lives through the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist (which Paul will talk about in just a few verses).
And then there’s the Rock.
For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
Paul may be playing off of a rabbinical legend of the time that said a literal rock full of water followed the Israelites around in the wilderness. At the very least he is using a type or picture of Christ. Paul is saying that the rock that gave water to the thirsty Israelites was a picture of Christ. The story is actually quite amazing. Let’s take a minute and read it:
Exodus 17:1-7 (NIV) The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”
Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?”
3 But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”
4 Then Moses cried out to the LORD, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
5 The LORD answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.7 And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
The people are dying of thirst and grumbling against Moses. But Moses tells them that they are grumbling against God himself. Notice that Moses is facing death; the people are going to stone him at any moment. How will God step in?
The LORD (Yahweh, and also Jesus) says that he will stand “by the rock at Horeb.” It literally says “I will stand ON the rock.” For Yahweh to stand on the rock would be how he identifies himself with the rock itself. The rock will represent Yahweh.
Strike the rock.
Can you see what just happened? The rock becomes the substitute for the people and for Moses. The rock was struck in place of Moses, sparing his life. The people should have been struck by God, but instead the rock was struck. And out came the water that would save their lives.
and the Rock was Christ.
Christ was struck in our place wasn’t he? And out came the life, the Spirit of life, that would save our lives. If and when we, by faith, drink of that life like drinking water from the rock.
We are being reminded of our identity in Christ. Who are we? What is our spiritual history? Like the Israelites of old, “to live is Christ” means that you are baptized into identity with Christ. You have by faith drunk the water of Christ’s life. You are alive in him, by him, and through him. This is good news!
Next comes the warnings. But for today, let’s soak in the good news of our identity in Christ. Refocus. Have you forgotten who you are over the past few days? How does Christ the Rock that was struck for you encourage you today?