Christ, a Rock!
William Nicholson, 1862
"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." Exodus 17:6
"They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ!" 1 Corinthians 10:3-4
Christ is the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely! How numerous and delightful are his excellencies as the Redeemer of men! To represent them, the sacred writers have adopted the choicest and most expressive figures which human language can furnish. Such figures are calculated . . .
to assist our understanding,
to impress our memory,
and to constrain our love.
Hence he is called . . .
the Sun of Righteousness,
the Bright and the Morning Star,
the Manna and Living Bread,
the Light of the World,
the City of Refuge,
the Living Stone,
the Foundation, or Rock.
To this last figure, Christ is compared in the text. The rock of Horeb was a type of Christ.
I. A Rock is distinguished for firmness and stability. Hence rock makes the firmest foundation. It is the emblem of strength. "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock!" Matthew 7:24. When the storm comes, the violence of the wind, the roaring torrent, etc., do not affect a structure founded on a rock.
Jesus Christ is a firm foundation. Matthew 16:18. He is a sure foundation. Isaiah 28:16. The power of Satan, the influence of error, the scoffs of infidelity, may be defied by him who rests upon Christ, the Rock of ages. Romans 8:31, etc.
II. Some rocks are distinguished for elevation. Though their base may be low in the ground — yet their tops surmount surrounding objects, and have a lofty and commanding prominence.
Christ our rock is high in the dignity of his person — high in his exaltation. Philippians 2:9-11. "In all things he has the pre-eminence." He is higher than angels, King of kings, and Lord of lords. He has absolute dominion over worlds, visible and invisible. Colossians 1:17, 18.
III. Rocks in ancient times were used for habitations. People dwelt in them, as well as built upon them. They hewed out houses in rocks. Isaiah 22:16; Jeremiah 48:28.
God in Christ, is a believer's spiritual habitation. Like the dove, he dwells in the cleft of the rock. Psalm 90:1; 91:9. "He who dwells in love dwells in God." 1 John 4:16.
IV. Rocks were used for refuge and defense. This was the case when pursued by enemies. 1 Samuel 13:6. They were secure from the missiles of their enemies.
God in Christ, is the refuge and defense of his people. Hebrews 6:18. Thus the Psalmist triumphed, Psalm 46. Christ is the defense of his Church. Isaiah 4:5. His gracious presence shall never be lacking. See Psalm 27:5; 143:9.
V. Rocks in oriental countries yield honey. See Psalm 81:16; Deuteronomy 32:13.
All sweet peace and precious comfort proceed from the Rock, Christ. 2 Peter 1:4. His promises are sweeter than honey or the honeycomb. Psalm 19:10.
VI. Rocks yield the purest water. Exhilarating springs proceed from them. No water is so clear as that which comes in crystal streams from the rock. Hence Moses was commanded to smite the rock. Exodus 17:5, 6.
Christ the Rock was smitten by Divine Justice for sinners. He was stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. The curse of the law subjected him to the ignominious cross, and the Divine wrath. "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was pierced for our iniquities." From that smitten Rock proceeded Divine refreshing streams . . .
of glorification, etc.
Hence Gospel blessings are thus predicted, Isaiah 41:17, 18; and Christ said, John 7:37-39; Isaiah 55:1. When Moses smote the rock, the water flowed abundantly. So when Christ was smitten, "Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life!" Revelation 22:17.
The water that flowed from the Rock in Horeb, was not only sufficient for their needs at that particular time, but it followed them in the way for some considerable time after the rock was smitten.
Christ imparted the blessed fruits of his death, not only to the first ages of Christianity, but to the most distant ages of the world. Those streams of grace shall never cease to follow his Church, until mortality shall be swallowed up of life, until the wilderness is exchanged for the Canaan above!
VII. Rocks afford a very delightful and refreshing shadow in hot countries to weary travelers.
So Christ is as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, Isaiah 4:6; 25:4; 32:2. "If any man sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one." Here the accusations of conscience, the charges of the law, etc., are silenced. Here we hide from the wrath of God.
VIII. Rocks are very durable and lasting. They are difficult to remove. It takes a long time to impair them. They continue from one generation to another.
The Lord Jesus has the stability of a rock in him. He is the Rock of Ages, the same yesterday, today and forever! He never grows weak — the riches of his grace will never be impoverished. Mark his immutability, "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end!" Hebrews 1:10-12
IX. Rocks, by their altitude, afford a good and delightful prospect of the distant country. From them objects afar off may be seen. "From the rocky peaks I see them, from the heights I view them." Numbers 23:9.
He who by faith ascends to the top of this spiritual Rock, may take a better prospect and survey of Heaven than Moses could of Canaan, when he stood upon the rock of Pisgah. The Christian rests upon the Rock Christ, and "looks for that blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ!" Titus 2:13. "He sees the king in his beauty, and the land that is afar off."
1. Are you upon this Rock?
2. Let the firmness and durability of this Rock be an antidote to all fear.
3. Take heed that Christ is not a Stumbling-stone and Rock of Offence to you!