Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Concerning the water flowing from the smitten rock in 17:6, there are some matters which are spiritual and mysterious. In order to understand these matters, we need to see that every record in the Bible has a spiritual significance. We should not try to understand any portion of the biblical record simply according to the black and white letter. For example, the account of the sending of manna in Exodus 16 has certain spiritual aspects. By considering these aspects we find out that manna is very mysterious. No one can say what manna was. Manna was mysterious because it came from heaven. In the same principle, the water flowing from the cleft rock is also mysterious.
Because manna came from heaven, it is easy to realize that it was mysterious. However, we may not recognize the mysterious aspects of the water out of the smitten rock. Instead we may consider that this was something natural, something merely related to the earth. But how could so much water come out of one rock? Was the rock a fountain or a spring? How could it be the source of the water? Furthermore, is the water from the rock physical or spiritual? If we say that it is only physical because it issued from a literal rock, what shall we do with Paul’s word in 1 Corinthians 10:4, where he says that the people “all drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank of a spiritual rock which followed them”? According to this verse, both the water and the rock were spiritual.
Anything that is spiritual is mysterious. Hence, the spiritual drink and the spiritual rock are both mysterious. For something to be mysterious means that it cannot be fully explained, although it may be enjoyed and experienced. Both the manna and the living water from the smitten rock are spiritual and mysterious.
What basis did Paul have for saying that the rock was spiritual? Perhaps his basis was the abundance of revelation he received from the Lord concerning things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. Having been instructed by Gamaliel, Paul had a thorough knowledge of the Old Testament. No doubt, through the revelation of the Lord given to him, Paul’s eyes were opened to see the spiritual significance of a great many items in the Old Testament. This may have given him the assurance to say that the manna, the water, and the rock were all spiritual. But whatever Paul’s basis was, we have the confidence that his interpretation was accurate.
The water is mysterious in that it flowed out of a rock which followed the people in their journey through the wilderness. Surely such a rock could not have been physical or material. How could a literal, physical rock travel with the people? The fact that Paul says that the rock followed the people indicates that it was a living rock. Hence, this rock was spiritual and mysterious. As we consider the matter of the water of life in resurrection, we must be impressed with the spiritual and mysterious aspects of the water from the smitten rock.
The water which came out of the rock is the water of life in resurrection. Resurrection denotes something which has been put to death and which is alive again. It also denotes life which springs forth out of something that has passed through death. The living water in Exodus 17 came out of a rock. Why did God cause water to come out of a rock? Since He is almighty, there was no need for Him to use a rock. He could simply have opened the ground and caused living water to spring forth. In the Bible this rock speaks of God’s redemption and Christ’s incarnation. It also speaks of Christ’s humanity and of His death. The water which flowed out of the smitten rock sprang forth after incarnation, human living, and death. It flowed only after these major steps of Christ had been accomplished. The Bible tells us clearly that the rock was Christ. How could Christ, who is God, become a rock? This implies incarnation and human living. In order to be the rock, Christ had to become incarnated and live among men for a period of time. Eventually, when He was on the cross, He was smitten by the authority of God’s law. Hence, 17:6 is a profound verse. It implies Christ’s incarnation, human living, and death.
It is easy to see that the smiting of the rock typifies the smiting of Christ in His crucifixion. Now we must go on to see that the water of life flows in resurrection. It could not flow until Christ had passed through incarnation, human living, and death. Today the water of life is still flowing in resurrection. We often sing about drinking the living water. But when we sing these songs or read verses such as 1 Corinthians 12:13, I doubt that very many of us realize that the living water we are drinking is in resurrection. In John 4:10 the Lord Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The living water to which the Lord refers is the water of life in resurrection. Before the Lord Jesus was smitten on the cross, this water was not available for us to drink.
According to John 7:38 and 39, the rivers of living water are related to Christ’s resurrection. Here we see that the Spirit as the living water could be received only after the Lord Jesus had been glorified, that is, only after Christ had been crucified and had entered into resurrection. The glorification spoken of in John 7:39 refers to Christ’s glorification in His resurrection. Luke 24:26 indicates that in resurrection Christ entered into His glory. Thus, when He was resurrected, He was glorified. After Christ’s glorification in resurrection, the living water flows. The Spirit as the rivers of living water could be experienced by the believers only after Christ had passed through incarnation, human living, and death, and after He had entered into resurrection.
When the Lord Jesus was on the cross, “one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water” (John 19:34). Many Christians pay attention only to the blood which flowed from the Lord’s pierced side, but not to the water. Notice that in John 19:34 the blood is mentioned first and then the water. This indicates that first we are redeemed and then we receive the Spirit.
Although we have pointed out that the water of life flows in resurrection, we have not yet given a definition of resurrection. Resurrection is difficult to define. To understand it properly, we need the revelation of the whole Bible. In fact, the focus of the Bible is resurrection. You may be surprised to hear that resurrection is actually God Himself. In John 11:25 the Lord Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” In this verse resurrection comes before life. According to our concept, however, we have first life and then resurrection. But in the divine sequence resurrection comes before life.
That resurrection is God Himself is indicated by the fact that the One who said that He is resurrection was God incarnate. He was the Word who was God and who became flesh (John 1:1, 14). In John 11:25 this very One declared that He is resurrection. Tracing backward, we see that resurrection was Jesus, Jesus was the Word made flesh, and the Word was God. This indicates that resurrection is the very God.
Some may wonder how God could be resurrection since resurrection involves death. Without death, there can be no resurrection. How could God die, or be involved in death, in order to be resurrected? To prove that He is resurrection, God had to enter into death. There was no other way to prove that He is resurrection. To enter into death, God had to become incarnate. He had to have a human body with a human life and nature. The very God who became incarnate and passed through human living and death also entered into resurrection. Anything which passes through death and comes forth living is in resurrection. As resurrection, God is the One who became incarnated, experienced human living, and passed through death. Now in resurrection He is victorious, triumphant, and transcendent.
We need the Lord to enlarge our scope in reading the Bible. If we have a broad scope, we shall see that through incarnation the eternal God passed through the gate which brought Him into contact with the many difficulties, hardships, and pressures of human living, things to which He was not subject in eternity. But as the incarnated One, He experienced these sufferings, eventually even entering into death. Christ’s resurrection was not merely the result of His coming out of the tomb; it was also the issue of thirty-three and a half years of human living with its hardships and difficulties. No hardship, difficulty, or negative environment was able to overcome Him or hold Him down. Instead, He passed through all these things and subdued them. He conquered every negative thing, including death, Hades, and the tomb. This is God in Christ as resurrection.
Because the water of life is in resurrection, it is victorious and triumphant. It transcends every negative thing. When we drink this water, we become people in resurrection and of resurrection.
Let us now look at three pictures portrayed in the Scriptures: the smitten rock with water flowing out of it, Christ on the cross with blood and water flowing from His pierced side, and God on the throne, out of which flows the river of water of life. These pictures do not signify three different kinds of waters, one flowing out of the rock, another flowing out of the body of Jesus, and still another flowing out of the throne of God. No, the water in these pictures refers to the one water. Why then does the Word separately portray the rock, the body of Jesus, and the throne? Moreover, what is the source of the flowing water? Is it the rock, the physical body of Jesus, or the throne? According to Revelation 22:1, the source of the living water is the throne of God. This verse reveals that the river of water of life proceeds out of the throne.
The throne of God with the flow of living water was in existence long before Jesus was crucified and before the rock was smitten. The living water proceeding out of the throne began to flow before Christ’s death, not after it. According to the sequence in the Bible, the rock is first, the physical body of Jesus is second, and the throne is third. But in actuality the throne is first. The flowing of the living water began from the throne. Before the rock was smitten and before Christ was crucified, the living water was already flowing from the throne. Do not think that Revelation 22:1 portrays only what comes after Exodus 17 and John 19. This is a picture of something from eternity, of something that includes the whole Bible. This indicates that the living water was flowing before the incarnation of Christ. The incarnation, however, was a further step in the flowing of the living water. God flowed from His throne into the manger and also into the home of a carpenter. Thirty-three and a half years later, God flowed through the cross and then flowed on in resurrection.
The Bible tells the story of God’s flowing. Throughout the centuries, God has been flowing, and He is still flowing today. In His flowing He passed through incarnation, human living, and death, and then He entered into resurrection. Now in resurrection He is the living water for us to drink. Therefore, the water of life we enjoy today is in resurrection.
The living water has many ingredients, many elements. Whenever we drink this living water in a proper way, it supplies us with all the elements and substances in the water. These elements work in us inwardly. Those who emphasize the so-called Pentecostal experiences think they are drinking a great deal of water when they speak in tongues. Actually they receive very little life supply, if any. However, in our experience we enjoy the inward working of this flowing water with all its ingredients. The water flowing in us is not the water without the element of incarnation; it is the water that includes incarnation, human living, and death, the water of life in resurrection. Nothing can overcome this water or subdue it, for it is resurrection and it is life.
In this message I have been burdened to point out that the water of life is in resurrection. Actually, the water itself is resurrection. This means that the Spirit, signified by the flowing water, is resurrection. Resurrection is the Triune God, the Father as the source, Christ the Son as the course, and the Spirit as the flow. Today we are drinking the living water in resurrection. This water has passed through incarnation, human living, and death. Because this water is in resurrection, the more we drink it, the more we are out of our natural condition and are triumphant over hardships and difficulties. This living water delivers us from the world and from every kind of negative thing. Because the water of life is resurrection, we enjoy resurrection by partaking of it.
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