Deuteronomy 8:15 NLTse Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry. He gave you water from the rock!
Its an easy task to find the matching New Testament texts for this prophecy about Jesus when you know the Rock that followed Israel through the wilderness was Christ. The verse can be easily located by searching the key words, Rock and Christ, which takes us directly to the beginning of 1 Corinthians 10.
1 Corinthians 10:1-4 NLTse (1) I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. (2) In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. (3) All of them ate the same spiritual food, (4) and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ.
When we read Paul’s account of the scene, the link between the spiritual Rock and manna becomes evident. For a complete understanding one cannot be studied without the other. As usual, the original Old Testament texts adds a host of details to consider.
Deuteronomy 8:2-18 NLTse (2) Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. (3) Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (4) For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell. (5) Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good. (6) “So obey the commands of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. (7) For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills. (8) It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey. (9) It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills. (10) When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. (11) “But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. (12) For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, (13) and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! (14) Do not become proud at that time and forget the LORD your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. (15) Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry. He gave you water from the rock! (16) He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. (17) He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.‘ (18) Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.
The first detail that pops out is the word remember. Paul also begins with the words, “ I don’t want you to forget.” Why is this so important to remember? What is the significance behind Jesus taking the form of a Rock? Other words repeated in Deuteronomy 8 include humbling and testing. How did Jesus as a Rock humble and test Israel? Why is it so important for us to remember?
Deuteronomy 8 also carries a set of warnings. Details not to forget:
“But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today.
Be careful! Do not become proud.
He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’
Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.
All of these statements focus on a problem all of us face, becoming too dependent on ourselves. What does that mean? Why did Paul choose to use these verses to introduce his lesson on eating unclean foods? Was Paul warning about mistakes the Pharisees made by creating a set of laws and regulations added to God’s law? Where do people get the impression adding laws makes them like God? Is that why Deuteronomy 8 and 1 Corinthians 10 both reference the law and being over confident?
What lesson is taught by the Rock that gave water and manna? How do these relate to God’s law? What did Israel need as they crossed the wilderness? Of course they needed food and water. God provided every physical need as well as every spiritual need. Nothing had to be added. The same is true with God’s law. But like Israel, unhappy with the basic necessities, they demanded more. As time continued, they continued to ask for more when it came to God’s law. In an effort to remember, they added to God’s simple law until it came out of their noses.
Imagine the scene when Moses first brought water from the Rock. For days Israel watched their water supply dwindle. Their families and flocks were in danger of dying. They could only survive for a few days without water. They blamed Moses and God for their predicament. They demanded immediate action. Moses consulted with God about the matter, then received specific instructions. “I will stand before you on the rock at Mount Sinai. Strike the rock, and water will come gushing out. Then the people will be able to drink.” So Moses struck the rock as he was told, and water gushed out as the elders looked on. (Exodus 17:6 NLTse).
Moses stood high upon the mountain. In the valley below over a million thirsty mouths looked up. Some believed God was going to perform a miracle to bring water they desperately needed. Most doubted they would see a change in their dilemma. Every eye looked up the mountain at Moses. The huge black rock Moses positioned himself upon stood out in contrast to the lesser shades of gray and tan colors making up the mountain. A hush came over the crowed as Moses raised his staff over his head. He stood there for a moment taking in the scene below. Without saying a word, Moses followed God’s command. Shifting position, Moses swung his staff behind himself. With one quick motion, swung the staff towards the rock, striking it with one loud crack. Moses remained motionless as a sound erupted from the ground below. Soon a steam of water gushed out from the base of the rock, reaching high enough for all to see. The steady stream of water blocked their view of Moses. Water came crashing down to the ground, trailing down the mountain. The crowd separated. No one could stand before its power. Soon a river of water flowed through the middle of the valley. People stood back, not sure what to do. When water reached the end of the congregation its smell reached flocks and herds who did not hesitate to drink their fill. People watched the animals drink for a few minutes before joining in.
After the herds were watered, people refreshed, and all every container filled with water to carry on their journey, it was time to leave. Suddenly the spray of water ceased. During their festivities, celebrating the gift of life brought by water, Moses remained upon the mountain with the rock. Once the column of water shielding their view of Moses subsided, the people once again looked up at him. The cloud in a form of a pillar towering behind Moses began to move. Moses turned and followed. Water still flowed from the rock at a reduced rate. The river still separated the people. Once they passed the rock, they would be united again.
People struggled up the side of the mountain pulling and pushing carts and wagons of all sizes carrying all the materials they needed to establish an economy in the new land. As they passed the huge black rock some hesitated to gaze at their dim reflection in the shimmering, almost vertical sides. Others acted like they hardly noticed the strange shape or color of the rock. A few stopped to see what people were looking at, but saw nothing. Walking down the far side of the mountain, Israel once again joined as one people, a single nation as they continued their journey through the wilderness to the land God promised.
Luke 20:17 NLTse Jesus looked at them and said, “Then what does this Scripture mean? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’” Israel was supposed to remember how the Rock cared for them in the wilderness. What is the water and manna supposed to remind us of?
He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people–an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. (This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also can believe (Luke 22:19-20, John 19:34-35 NLTse).