Obedience is better than sacrifice

1 Corinthians 10:4: They all drank of that rock – and that rock was Christ. 

 

As Moses fell before his God, he began to weep 

How could he satisfy the needs of his two-legged bleating sheep? 

Twas just a week since they had come across the riven Red Sea 

Already forgetting what God had done to set His people free. 

 

“I’ve heard their cry and know their need - Egypt’s in each soul 

They must drink of living waters before they can be whole 

You see the tsur, that cutting rock, go smite it with your rod 

I’ll stand between you and its face” - so came the word of God. 

 

The law-giver stood before the rock in that dry and barren land 

He did as was commanded, his staff held in his hand 

He struck but once – that’s all it took - and living waters ran 

The people drank to quench their thirst - enough for every man. 

 

A picture has been painted here, to show what Calvary’s for 

At Golgotha’s rock, the Lord will bear the smiting of the Law. 

That tsur rock – a cutting rock – that speaks of covenant made 

The rod of law - that caused the wounds upon the Saviour laid. 

 

For everyone who comes there thirsting, living streams still flow 

To satisfy each longing heart on the journey here below 

A foretaste of eternal springs that flow from ‘neath God’s throne 

A promise to all repentant men who’d call His kingdom ‘home’. 

 

Years passed on and all had gone that drank of that first spring 

Once again the murmuring rose – they had not learned a thing! 

The aged patriarch comes once more to bring his case to God 

Another picture he’s told to paint – this time with a different rod. 

 

“From before the ark, go take the rod that speaks of priestly right 

Speak to the rock, the sela rock – within the people’s sight 

The sela rock – a fortified rock that points men to the sky 

Where Christ my Son now sits enthroned inviting you to draw nigh.” 

 

A different rod, a different rock, a different action sought 

No more a beating from the law – its work’s already wrought. 

We come now to his presence with a priest’s authority 

And speaking out the people’s needs, we bow before his knee. 

 

And he pours out living water from the abundance of his grace 

And invites us to come boldly and look upon his face 

To mount the rock, ascend on high, and higher still to climb 

To know his joy unspeakable and peace that’s so sublime 

 

This picture Moses failed to paint as he struck against the rock 

No water came – he struck again in anger and embarrassed shock 

The Father’s heart was grieving but the damage had been done 

Twas blasphemy to strike again the body of His Son. 

 

“Because you have not honoured me in doing what I said 

You cannot lead my people on, another will go instead 

To overcome the enemy within the Promised Land 

And taste the blessings there for those obeying my command” 

 

As Moses stood on Pisgah’s height, the Promised Land so near 

His heart was filled with sorrow and his soul with awesome fear 

He watched as youthful Joshua crossed to the other side 

Then the patriarch – the friend of God - laid down his head and died. 

 

Moses was 120 years old when he was forbidden to enter the Promised Land – something he had desired for many years. He pleaded with God but to no avail (Deut 3:23-27) for God was angry with him. I considered why God should treat His friend in such a way until I saw that His instructions spoke of two different rods (representing the Law and Grace - priesthood); two different rocks (one a sharp, jagged piece of flint, usually used to cut the sacrifices; the other a high fortified cliff – Strong); two different actions (smite and speak). 

 

Surely these speak (1) of the smiting of the Saviour by the Law at Calvary, and (2) our privilege now to come to Him, high and exalted on His throne, as priests to seek His Spirit, water poured out from on high. Moses failed to “portray” this picture. God did give water to the people at the second rock – but only after Moses had struck it twice. Even when we sin in disobedience, God is merciful to the needy but not to those He has called to be leaders. 

 

i Exodus 17:5,6 

ii Numbers 20:7-12