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Exodus 17:6-7 Moses Strikes the ROCK

Posted by Ez1 Realty on November 5, 2012

Study methods explained. Bible stories, studies with links between Old and New Testament texts.

Learning about prophecies fulfilled shows how to understand all scripture.

Exodus 17:6-7 KJV Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. (7) And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?

This could be one of the most exciting and educational studies in this series on the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. Every study in this series adds a new dimension not only on the spiritual lessons learned, a closer relationship with Jesus is forged by the fact, each prophecy builds new study skills. If you do not understand the explanation, or do not know how to apply the simple principles, feel free to contact me.

If you ever searched the Internet looking for information on Inductive Bible study, you have seen rules of the five “W’s” Who, what, when, where and why. Has anyone explained how to draw the information from Scripture in a manner you can understand and apply? We can dwell on each of these points in an effort to provide an example you can understand.


I prefer to use the term personality. In this example who is easily answered Moses. But where does that get you? There is another important rule to follow. The rule of context. To understand the text you have to answer each question, who, what, when, where and why in context. What does that mean? When answering the question who, we have to determine at least two very important details. Where is the person on their spiritual walk? What events led to the circumstance or event being studied? What lesson did the person in the story learn? How did the lesson make them stronger? How does the lesson apply to your spiritual walk?

In this case, where is Moses on his spiritual journey? Is he a slave, prince of Egypt, prophet, leader, warrior or spokesman? As we look at Moses’ life we see how he moved from one role to the other.


This may be the most difficult to explain. Look at what is happening. Moses is striking a rock.


The question of when is closely related to who. Many studies concentrate on the date. The date is what? A value set by the world. A date is fine if you are studying a president, king, or general, but Bible study should center on the spiritual lesson. In this example when is answered in verses 1 and 5.

Exodus 17:1 NLTse At the LORD’s command, the whole community of Israel left the wilderness of Sin and moved from place to place. Eventually they camped at Rephidim, but there was no water there for the people to drink.

Exodus 17:5 NLTse The LORD said to Moses, “Walk out in front of the people. Take your staff, the one you used when you struck the water of the Nile, and call some of the elders of Israel to join you.

Moses stuck the rock after the LORD’s command. It happened when there was no physical water.


The physical location is easy to find. It is found in verse 1, Rephidim. Remember, a Bible study will always look for the spiritual lesson being taught. There is a reason God went to great lengths to record specific locations. Looking back to verse 1 in Exodus 17, we see Moses, “left the wilderness of Sin and moved from place to place. Eventually they camped at Rephidim.” More of the spiritual lesson is understood when the sequence is studied.


This question can only be answered by reviewing previous texts, which brings up another important detail of Bible study. The context of the chapter is found in the first and last few verses of the chapter.

Exodus 17:1 NLTse At the LORD’s command, the whole community of Israel left the wilderness of Sin and moved from place to place. Eventually they camped at Rephidim, but there was no water there for the people to drink.

In verse one we see the LORD commanding who? The whole community of Israel. Why? The whole community of Israel consists of everyone who left Egypt. Not only the Israelites but the slaves from other countries, and Egyptians. When one person moved, they all moved. We also see there was no water there for the people to drink. Verse 2 adds another important detail.

Exodus 17:2 NLTse So once more the people complained against Moses. “Give us water to drink!” they demanded. “Quiet!” Moses replied. “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the LORD?”

The introduction explains Moses struck the rock to bring water because the people complained. Notice how the theme is repeated so even a child can easily find it and understand. What spiritual lesson does this explain?

Remember, the Bible must be studied to reveal the spiritual lesson contained within the texts. Another important rule of context is found in the last few verses of the chapter know as the conclusion or summation. We can compare the first and last verses to find the spiritual connection, which will help to explain the verses in between.

Exodus 17:1-2 NLTse At the LORD’s command, the whole community of Israel left the wilderness of Sin and moved from place to place. Eventually they camped at Rephidim, but there was no water there for the people to drink. (2) So once more the people complained against Moses. “Give us water to drink!” they demanded. “Quiet!” Moses replied. “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the LORD?”

Exodus 17:14-16 NLTse After the victory, the LORD instructed Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” (15) Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-nissi (which means “the LORD is my banner”). (16) He said, “They have raised their fist against the LORD’s throne, so now the LORD will be at war with Amalek generation after generation.”

This is another step in an inductive study, looking for words that are the same, similar, or related. In this case we see both the introduction and summation show us God speaking. In the introduction we see a series repeated. The people complained and tested God. In the summation we see Amalek raised their fist against the LORD’s throne. We also see the LORD commanded the whole community of Israel. This shows the spiritual application extends beyond Jacob’s direct descendants. So the spiritual lesson contained in Exodus 17 also extends to Amalek. The question is, was Israel’s doubt in God less of sin than Amalek’s open revolt? Do you see how understanding the context of the chapter will bring the spiritual lesson to the surface?

Now that we have learned a series of lessons on the inductive method of Bible study, you should be able to recognizee their application in a study. Remember, the further you go back to review, the more of a spiritual lesson you will see.

After a series of plagues in which God displayed His power over the water, sun, creatures, and elements of the world, Israel was freed from their bondage in Egypt. God set the calendar so the first day of the year marked their moment of freedom. Before they left, Egypt faced one final plague. God commanded Moses to instruct all of Israel to follow a specific set of instructions to prepare for the Passover. If they were followed, the first born in every household was protected from the destroying angel. The Passover not only pointed to Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb, but restored the role of priest to the head, the husband of every family.

Soon after leaving Egypt, Israel came to the Red Sea. News quickly spread that the Egyptian army was positioned to attack. Fear filled the hearts of many as they blamed Moses for the situation. Saying they would be better off to die in Egypt showed how quickly they forgot the miracles God performed in Egypt. It showed how small their faith was. To save them and gain their faith, God opened the Red Sea. They crossed on dry land. When the Egyptian army tried to pursue them, God released the waters, drowning Pharaoh’s army. God did all this for His glory.

God gave them the promise He would go before them on their journey across the wilderness to put fear in the hearts of the war like tribes and kingdoms inhabiting the lands they were about to cross. As they began their journey, food began to run out. Once again the people complained. Moses talked to God, who provided quail and manna. Important spiritual lessons were contained within the manna. Moses told them to gather only enough for one day. Some people did not trust Moses or God, and tried to gather more. The next day they found worms in the manna. Where did the worms come from? It wasn’t just any worm, but one used to extract red dye. Another spiritual lesson.

Moses also told them to gather twice as much on the sixth day, because manna would not be sent on the Sabbath. When kept over night for the Sabbath, worms were not found in the manna. This teaches a number of spiritual lessons extending to and past the New Testament.

After their food supply was satisfied, the water supply began to dwindle. Instead of trusting in God, the people began to complain and doubt. Once again only Moses turned to God. He knew he was not adequate to lead such a large group across the wilderness. Moses was learning to rely on the LORD, and trust Him. God told Moses, “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. Moses named the place Massah (which means “test”) and Meribah (which means “arguing”) because the people of Israel argued with Moses and tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD here with us or not?” Exodus 17:6-7 NLTse).

A number of texts verify this is a prophecy about Jesus, the wellspring of life.

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.

John 4:10 KJV  Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

John 7:37-38 KJV In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. (38) He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

There is no doubt Jesus uses water to represent Himself. Why? Is it because we cannot live without water for more than a few days? Is it the cleansing qualities of water? Maybe it goes back to the beginning of creation when the world was covered with water and the Holy Spirit. Is water supposed to remind us about Jesus and the constant presence of His Spirit? What about the powers of growth water has? Is there any creature or plant on earth that does not owe its life to water?

Another important lesson can be learned in a study of this text. The lesson of repetition. When God repeats Himself, we had better pay attention. This same event was repeated in the same location later in Israel’s journey across the wilderness. See if you can find the change in one significant detail?

Numbers 20:8-12 NLTse “You and Aaron must take the staff and assemble the entire community. As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water. You will provide enough water from the rock to satisfy the whole community and their livestock.” (9) So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the LORD. (10) Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?” (11) Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill. (12) But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!”

Once again we see the entire community was assembled. Moses has his staff. He strikes the rock twice. This time Moses is told he will not lead them into the land God was giving them. Why? Did you see the most important detail? Moses was told to speak to the rock. He was not told to strike the rock the second time they visited that particular location. This shows the Rock, Jesus, was to be stuck only once. Jesus was sacrificed only once and raised for all eternity. Are there other spiritual implications to striking the Rock twice? Why does the Bible specifically tells us Moses struck the Rock once during the first event, twice on the second? What does this say about the way Jesus has been treated throughout history?


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