In 1948 the new state of Israel was embroiled in a controversy about its constitution. Orthodox Jews insisted that the name of God should be included, whilst others were opposed. A compromise was agreed when the description "Rock" was accepted. This was a clear name for God to the orthodox, but sufficiently obscure to satisfy the opposition. This divine title is found throughout the Bible, examples being: "the Rock of Israel spake to me" (2 Sam 23.3); "He is the Rock" (Deut 32.4); "Who is a rock, save our God?" (2 Sam 22.32). The word "rock" symbolises that which is immutable, immense, and immovable; that which has height, weight, breadth, bulk. We find inspiration, security and comfort in knowing God as our Rock. He is always there for us, and always the same.
The Smitten Rock
In 1 Corinthians 10.4 Paul identified the "Rock that followed them" (Ex 17.1-6) as the presence of Christ. The smiting of the rock by Moses to avert divine judgment is a type of Calvary where He was "stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted" (Is 53.4). Later Moses was told to speak to, not to smite, the rock (Num 20.8) as it was intended to be a picture of the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost (see 1 Cor 12.13). "The water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank" (Num 20.11) - Christ is both the source of salvation and the source of satisfaction. Honey dripped from the rock face, and oil was available too, all portraying the sweetness and solace of Christ for the weary pilgrim (Deut 32.13; Ps 81.16). How lovely; what endless resources we have in our Rock! Yet "Jeshurun (a righteous nation - Israel) lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation" (Deut 32.15), whilst others appreciatively said, "Blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation" (2 Sam 22.47). Do our hearts melt in thankfulness and praise?
The Solid Rock
"Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock" (Ex 33.21). God was about to show Moses something of His glory, but a solid standing before God is needed to see that glory. By faith we behold "the glory of the Lord" (2 Cor 3.18) because we stand on Christ the "precious corner stone, a sure foundation" (Is 28.16). Spiritual stability is also stressed in Psalm 40: "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth" (vv.2-3); thus, the pit is behind me, the Rock is beneath me, the road is before me, and a song is within me - what grace! Upon this Rock Christ builds His church and we build our lives (Mt 7.24-25; 16.18). Have we "stepped out into the seeming void, and found the Rock beneath"?
The Sheltering Rock
"Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength (literally, the rock of ages)" (Is 26.4); "thou art my rock and my fortress (Ps 71.3); "a man shall be as the shadow of a great rock within a weary land" (Is 32.2); "when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me" (Ps 61.2-3). What ample resources strength in weakness, shadow in weariness, and a shelter in emergencies.
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviours love.
In these delightful figures we discover Christ to be all-sufficient, but is it our experience?
The Smiting Rock
The Rock is a firm foundation to us, but to the disobedient it is "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence" (Is 8.14). Christ was not the kind of Messiah the Jews expected - they stumbled over Him and fell. He who was "smitten" for them on the Cross was the Rock upon which they foundered through unbelief. This same Rock or stone will pulverise the world powers at the end time in one of the most dramatic events in history when Christ comes to set up His Kingdom. "A stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth" (Dan 2.34-35; see also vv.44-45). Well may we pray, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Mt 6.10).
In the higher Rock Im trusting,
Restful, peaceful, saved, and free;
Tis the tested Rock of Ages,
Its dear shadow shelters me.