Christ and the Rock of Horeb        

A Sermon preached at Grace Community Church   pm 30/4/06

What would you consider to be the most significant phrase in Exd 171-7
      the scripture that has just been read? Would it be:
"But there was no water for the people" ?
Or "So they quarrelled with Moses" or "They grumbled against Moses" ?
Would it be that "Moses cried out to the Lord" ?
Or perhaps the instruction, "Strike the rock and water will come out of it" ?
Or maybe the final conclusion, "They tested the Lord" ?
We could well consider any one of these - or even all of them!
But without neglecting these, may we focus on the phrase in verse 6,
      where the Lord tells Moses, "I will stand there before you ..."

At Horeb, the Lord Almighty stood there, unseen by all the grumbling people.
      And there he commanded Moses to strike the rock.
      Years later Jesus, 'the Rock of Ages' came to earth.
           He was struck hard and lifted high upon a cruel cross.
      Crucified, laid behind a stone
      You lived to die, rejected and alone,
      Like a rose trampled on the ground
      You took the fall and thought of me, Above all.

At Horeb the people 'tested God'. And at Calvary, men again tested God.
      They subjected the willing, Almighty God
            to the worst punishment ever devised by men.
      And God used the act, which he had planned from before the dawn of time,
            to redeem us all from sin and death and hell. O outrageous grace!
      How do I react to God's testing and discipline? Do I grumble or submit?

As the Lord God stood before them at Horeb, what did he provide?
      Water, not just a cupful each, but tons and tons of it.
      There is nothing mean or stingy about this amazing God.
            Why do we think the kindness of Jesus is so limited, so restricted?
There was so much water they could not only drink to the full, but wash in it too.
1,500 years after this event there was a sinful woman who stood before Jesus at a certain well.
      Unlike at Horeb, it was Jesus who initially asked the Samaritan lady for a drink.
            But it soon turned so that it was the woman who was asking Jesus for water.
      He had told her, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
      but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.
      Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water
            welling up to eternal life."  Jn 413,14

      She responded, "Sir, give me this water ..."
      And Jesus did so.
      The Rock of Ages gave this thirsty woman water to drink.
            She now worships her mighty Saviour with a glad and grateful heart.
            The 'stricken Rock with streaming side' welcomed her into his kingdom.

Tragically the people at Horeb differed in two vital ways from this woman.
      1. The Samaritan needed water to drink,
            but she was also thirsty for the water of life,
            longing for eternal life, for Jesus.
      2. She saw the very Lord of Glory standing before her.
            At Horeb, the people were only thirsty for water.
            They did not see him, neither did they have any interest in him.
      If we desire what our gracious and generous God provides
            for an easier, happier life;
            let us be sure we never become careless concerning him.
      When Christine Tipper was asked why she was returning to India so soon,
            She replied, "I am afraid that if I become too comfortable here
                  I might never return!"
            What a great lady, and a good example to us all.
      When Jesus was in Jerusalem he spoke directly to the religious leaders,
            They were so busy about the Law, about rituals, church affairs, religion ...
            Jesus told them, "You diligently study the Scriptures ...
                  these Scriptures that testify about me,
                  yet you refuse to come to me to have life."
  Jn 539,40
      The Lord Almighty, the very Son of God stood before them,
            but their eyes were closed. They had no hunger for God himself.
            May Jesus Christ himself always be our objective.
            As F.Brook, the hymn-writer wrote, "My goal is God himself,
                not joy, or peace or even blessing, but himself, my God."

Today we are surrounded by uncertainty, injustice and raw wickedness.
      Do you need the shelter of a Mighty Rock from the storms of life?
      Do you feel alone, insecure, fearful of the future?
Taste the kindness of God who stands before the Rock that cannot be moved.
      He who promised, I am with you always Iwill never walk away from you.
      Men may break their promises, but God cannot break his Word.
            As David declared after the Lord enabled him to evade king Saul.
                  The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
                  my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
                  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.   Ps 182 and Ps 621,2

Do you feel crushed between a rock and hard place, with no escape?
      Do you long for a better life? Are you tired of the battle, longing for relief?
      Are you thirsty for the water of life?
      Hear what the eternal God of grace, who stands before you, declares:
            "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
            And you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
            Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost ...
            Come to me; hear me, that your soul may live."   Is 551,3
      Come and stand before Jesus, the mighty Rock of Horeb.
      Stand before the Rock that Paul says was Christ.  1Co 10 4
            Come, not grumbling and complaining that your life is hard.
            Come pleading "Sir, give me this water,
                the water that washes away all my corruption and shame and guilt,
                the water that is eternal life.
                O Sir, please give me this water."
      The sovereign Lord who stands before the Rock of Horeb is 100% faithful.
      Will he not willingly, graciously pour out all the water you need?
      This same mighty Saviour who was struck on Calvary's Cross,
            Did he not pay in full what he thought you were worth?
            Did not the water and the blood flow from his side
                so that we may be set free.
            Yes, he did it all for you and me.

Hear his infallible promise:
On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice,
      "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.
      Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said,
      streams of living water will flow from within him."   Jn 737,38
Then the abundant life that he gives to you so freely,
      will enable you to give the life of God to others,
      to any who stand in the desert, before the Rock, thirsty, maybe grumbling,
            but in their hearts longing for forgiveness and real life.
      As Christ has given to you, so give to others.

Today, as always down the ages, Jesus stands before the Rock,
      as he also stood before the closed door of the church of Laodicea,
      patient, kind, arms outstretched,
      to a careless, complacent, disobedient, rebellious, people.
      The Sovereign Lord is always so ready to forgive,
            so outrageous is his grace,
            so abundant is the water of life eternal.
      Why not stop and drink of the water of life
            from the hands of him who was stricken and who stands before us now.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee!
Let the water and the blood,
From thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
Not the labours of my hands,
Can fulfil thy law's demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears for ever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked come to thee for dress;
Helpless look to thee for grace:
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See thee on thy judgement throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.