In my city Philadelphia, there is a stream that flows out of a spring and into the Schuylkill River. At this spring there is a plaque that reads, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again.” I can remember when we used to ride our bikes through Fairmont Park and we would drink the water from this spring. I often wondered if the person who penned this was trying to get us to realize that this world can offer nothing that will completely satisfy our thirst. Not sex, drugs, money, fame, technology. Nothing can bring full satisfaction to us but our God.
As I thought about that statement, I began to reflect on Exodus 17:1-7 where the Bible states that “All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.” The people are in a situation where they have to fully trust in the Lord. They are moving on, but they do not know what is ahead and to make matters worse they are in the wilderness. The people want to know “Is the Lord among us or not?” (vs 7) This statement in itself is pretty funny seeing how the Lord has delivered them from bondage and has constantly shown Himself to be faithful to His people, leading them by giving them shade in the day and fire at night.
I can still remember it like it was yesterday when I, like the children of Israel, was moving on from the wilderness of sin in my life. My addiction to crack was a time in my life when I thought “Is the Lord among us.” I was literally dying in my sin. The Lord sent a Moses to lead me to the rock so that I could drink from this rock and find satisfaction for my soul. Whenever I run into an old friend and I share the goodness of our God and King, they often stand and look at me like I am a miracle. And they often begin to treat me like I am special. What I try to help them see is that this same water from this rock is available to them. I personally believe that we like Moses can mess up God’s example if we are not careful about how we reflect His glory and not our own.
I believe that God was using the rock as an example to answer the children of Israel’s question – “Is God among us?” The first time Moses was asked to strike the rock was in Exodus 17:6.
“Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.”
The second time, and to another generation, Moses was asked to speak to the rock in the presence of the people.
“Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” 9 And Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he commanded him. 10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. 12 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”
We must ask ourselves what is the significance of the rock. Well, Paul helps us in 1 Corinthians 10:4-5.
“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. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.”
God was using the rock as an example to point to the future of His son, and Moses got in the way of what God was attempting to communicate to His people. The question of “is God with us or not?” is still a question people are asking. The answer to that question is, Yes he is!! He came to dwell with us and to offer us spiritual water from a spiritual Rock so that we will never thirst again.
Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for something to drink, and she asked why was he talking to her since he should know that Jews have nothing to do with Samaritans. Jesus made a statement to her that was a game changer in her life. He said “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, give me a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water”
If we would but only ask God He will give us this living water and this living water I believe is the Holy Spirit.
I learned a phrase from some young people when I was a youth Pastor. The phrase “He/She is thirsty” meaning that they really were seeking the attention of someone who was not interested in them. It is not like that with our God He wants us to desire and pursue Him above everything else. Like I said when He is all that we desire we get everything. David said it best in Psalms 143:6 “I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.”
In conclusion, God has given us, like the children of Israel, three gifts.
1. His word so that they would know how to move on from sin.
2. He gave us each other. Because God did not create us to be lone rangers, we must rely on and encourage one another in our relationship in Christ
3. He gave us the gift of prayer so that we can cry out to Him knowing that we have a God who will hear us and provide cool refreshing water for our souls.
Alonzo is married to the love of his life, Rhonda Johnson, and they have five children. Alonzo, Jr. (27), Isaac (9), Daniel (8), Caleb (7), and Abigail (5). He spearheads the Northeast Project, and is in the process of planting a vibrant church in the northeast region of Philadelphia. Learn more at northeastproject.org, or follow him on Twitter @NBFPhilly.