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Parashat Chukat: The Living Rock of Israel

Yeshua the Living Rock

Further thoughts on Parashat Chukat

by John J. Parsons

[ Note: This week's Torah (Chukat) includes three amazing pictures of the coming of the Messiah of Israel: 1) the mysterious Red Heifer sacrifice, 2) the Striking of the Rock at Meribah, and 3) the image of the Bronze Serpent on a pole. It is certainly one of the most fruitful portions of Torah to share with your Jewish friends... ]


The Torah for this Shabbat (Chukat) concerns the sin of Moses at Meribah (when he struck the Rock instead of speaking to it, as the LORD commanded). As you will recall, this mistake by Moses cost him entry into the Promised Land.  But why was this sin so severely dealt with by the LORD?

The Rock (הַצּוּר) was a picture of Him who was stricken for His people (Isa. 53:4 and 1 Cor. 10:4), and Moses' second striking suggested that the Messiah would need to be stricken a second time in order to provide the needs of the people.  No! The Rock that was once smitten for the people was now to be spoken to as the "Living Rock" (1 Cor. 10:4). Moses conveyed the wrong message, suggesting that the first striking had been insufficient and that something more was needed. The price Moses (and Aaron) paid for this disobedience was severe: neither of them was allowed to enter the Promised Land (that role was reserved for Yehoshua (יְהוֹשֻׁעַ), a type or picture of Yeshua). And it is to this day: those who attempt to add to the work of the LORD by affecting works of their own righteousness will likewise be disbarred from the land of Promise. Our justification and sanctification comes solely through the grace and love of God - not by works of our own righteousness (Titus 3:5-6; Eph. 2:8-9; Eccl. 7:20; Isa. 57:12).


A Midrash (i.e., Midrash Numbers Rabbah) teaches that a miraculous Rock/Well of Living Water accompanied the Jews throughout their journey in the desert that provided them with mayim chayim (i.e., fresh water).  Later Jewish tradition calls this rock the "Well of Miriam," though it is important to note that the Apostle Paul correlated this spiritually life-giving Rock (i.e., νευματικῆς πέτρας) with the Messiah Yeshua (1 Cor. 10:4). In other words, Yeshua Himself was the Source of Life for the Jews as they wandered in the wilderness of Sinai. He was the Living Water (מַיִם חַיִּים) then, just as He is today (John 4:10). Yeshua is the "Rock of Israel" (צוּר יִשְׂרָאֵל), our "spiritual oasis" in the desert, and the Source of our life and healing.

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