All our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
1 C O R I N T H I A N S 10:1-4
If people are nothing else, they are fickle. Expensive fashions that were the rage one season can generally be found on sale the next. A fickle person is one who lacks constancy, steadfastness, or stability. To be fickle means to be “given to erratic change.” The behavior of the people of Israel in the wilderness is an example of extreme fickleness.
Immediately following the deeply meaningful Passover Feast (Ex. 12), right on the heels of God’s amazing parting of the Red Sea (Ex. 14), and just after a moving praise service acknowledging the greatness and goodness of God (Ex. 15), the Hebrews experienced a fit of fickleness.
“THERE’S NOTHING TO DRINK!”
Three days into the desert, the Israelites began grumbling and complaining. First, “There’s nothing to drink!” Then, “This water doesn’t taste good!” Then, “There’s nothing to eat!” Think of a whiny child on a family vacation, multiply that by about a hundred thousand and you can begin to get the picture. Miriam’s song about a great God who works wonders was long forgotten (see Ex. 15:21). Trudging through the middle of nowhere, a deserted wilderness, the people were singing a very different, very irritating tune.
Despite God’s faithful and miraculous provision of water and manna in the past, the griping continued at the camp at Rephidim. It was there that God commanded Moses to strike the rock of Horeb (Ex. 17). When he did so, water miraculously came gushing out.
DRINK FROM THE ROCK
In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul refers to this incident, saying, “that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). In other words, there was a spiritual and supernatural (yet very real) sense that Jesus was with the people of Israel, during their long wilderness journey. What a testimony to the faithfulness of God! The Lord continued to protect and provide for His people even when they were at their absolute worst. What a picture of grace!
Isn’t this precisely how He treats us? We worship Him in an erratic fashion. We follow Him sporadically. We praise Him one moment for some blessings in our lives, then we turn right around and berate Him for His “failure” to give us what we want. In short, we’re fickle.
Nevertheless, He remains faithful. He never stops loving us. His gifts, including the greatest gift of all – forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life – are never doled out on the basis of merit. We are too capricious to ever deserve anything from a Holy God. Rather, the blessings of God are given graciously and freely. And the more we focus on the truth and the more we honor our faithful God, the more resolute we will become in our devotion for Him.