And the Lord said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” (Exodus 17:5-6)
Seeing that God specifically told Moses to strike the rock with his staff indicates that there was a greater purpose than just providing water for the people of Israel. As important as that was, it was needful for the elders of Israel to witness this event and “see” something. Now consider that the rod that struck the river was emblematic of God’s authority over nature and all that is in it. For the rod to strike the rock is, consequently, a picture of something representing God striking something that also represents God.
In other words, knowing that the Rock is Messiah, according to Paul, it is a picture of the Messiah being struck so that, from Him, could issue life for all who looked to Him. Furthermore, the picture being presented to us confirms that it was not man who determined that Messiah would die on a tree but the Father — it was His will. Hence the passage in Isaiah which says:
“Surely he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4)
Therefore, as we perceive the message of the stricken rock providing life and refreshing to the thirsty people, we see the heart of the Father. By that I mean, when we perceive the image of Messiah bleeding on a tree to die in our place, then we see the heart of our Heavenly Father. He didn’t choose a righteous human to die for the sins of man; He became flesh and paid the price for us. Because of His suffering, we live and so, as it is written:
“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.” (Psalm 95:1)
Blessings and Shalom,