Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Rock: Finding protection and provision in God

The last article began a look at Deuteronomy 32; a key point to this chapter is Moses’ introduction of a new name for God.

He spoke, “For I will proclaim Yahweh’s name…”

  • “The Rock – His work is perfect” (verse 4)
  • The Rock of salvation (verse 15)
  • “The Rock who gave you birth” (verse 18)
  • The Rock who fought for you (verse 30)
  • The Rock above all other rocks (verse 31)

Moses didn’t randomly choose an aspect of nature to create a word picture for the people. I think he had some pretty powerful memories going through his head as he declared “The Rock” as a name for Yahweh. Moses had spent the last 40+ years leading the people out of Egypt and through the wilderness. During that time, he had some powerful encounters with rocks; each one taught him a little more about God’s provision and protection.

The Rock – Our Provider

Moses was about to die. A past sin in his life would keep him from entering the Promised Land with the people. The sin? He exalted himself in an encounter with the Rock.

Exodus 17 & Numbers 20 – Read both of these chapters if you want the whole stories. Twice during their forty years of wandering the people settled in new regions that had no water. Both times, the people became a little – ok, a lot – gripey.

The first time – in Exodus 17 – God told Moses to strike a rock with his staff and water would flow from the rock for the people to drink. Moses obeyed and all was well.

The second time – in Numbers 20 – God told Moses to speak to the rock and water would flow. Moses decided he knew better than God, however. He spoke to the people instead of the rock before striking the rock twice with his staff. Not only did he speak to the people, but he did so arrogantly as he presented himself as part of the worker of the miracle. He said to the people, “Listen, you rebels! Must we bring water out of this rock for you?” (Numbers 20:10). We? No, God is the One who brought forth the water. No we, just an All-Powerful Me.

Rather than recognize God’s sufficient provision, Moses took matters into his own hands. He then tried to take credit for the act. Moses’ pride reared its ugly head as he positioned himself as God against the people who angered him.

Regardless of our situation, we provide nothing. Our pride makes us think we have done so much but we read in the New Testament, “Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).

The Rock – Our Protector

Exodus 33:12-23 – Again, read the passage for the whole story but, in short, Moses had another encounter with the Rock. He was getting a little unsure, a little demanding. One request led to another climaxing in the request, “Please, let me see Your glory” (Exodus 33:18).

God answered, “I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name Yahweh before you” but “You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live.” He continued, “Here is a place near Me. You are to stand on the rock, and when My glory passes by, I will put you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by” (Exodus 33:19-22).
God couldn’t allow Moses to see the glory of His face so He hid Moses in the cleft of a rock while He passed by behind him. The rock surrounded and protected Moses.
We also can’t behold the glory of God; we’re entirely too sinful and spiritually filthy to behold His glory. And yet, we will stand in His presence because the Rock protects us as well. The Rock covers us with His righteousness to protect us from the wrath of God.

Moses’ view of the Rock

Experience taught Moses that God was the Rock that provides our every need and protects us in our most dire moment. As the end of his life neared and the people would enter the Promised Land without him, he could confidently stand before them and declare, “The Rock – His work is perfect!”

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