First Corinthians 10--The Rock that followed them
May 20, 2017
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:4 that the Israelites “were drinking from a spiritual Rock which followed them.” If this Rock followed them, then it was not part of a mountain in the wilderness. It must have been small enough to take with them when they left Egypt.
The Greek word translated “followed” is akoloutheo, which means “to follow one who precedes.”
The first time that Moses struck the Rock (Exodus 17:6) was near Mount Horeb. The second time, however, was at Kadesh “in the wilderness of Zin” (Numbers 20:1, 2, 8). Kadesh was close to Edom, because from there Moses sent messengers to the king of Edom asking permission to travel through their land (Numbers 20:14, 17). When their request was refused, Israel “set out from Kadesh” (Numbers 20:21, 22) and went around Edom to get to the plains of Moab before crossing the Jordan.
It is obvious, then, that the Rock must have followed them from one location to another during Israel’s forty-year wilderness journey.
The Anointed Rock
What rock followed them? Paul says, “the rock was Christ.” Because “Christ” means “anointed,” we could also translate this to mean “the rock was anointed.” There was only one Rock in the biblical record which had been anointed as a type of Christ. This was a reference to the Rock that Jacob anointed at Bethel after dreaming of the angels ascending and descending (Genesis 28:12). We read in Genesis 28:18,
18 So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on its top.
This made the Stone a type of Christ, and thereafter, we find many Bible passages calling God (Christ) a Rock or a Stone. In the Song of Moses, we read in Deuteronomy 32:4,
4 The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.
In the same Song, we read in Deuteronomy 32:15 that Israel “forsook God who made him, and scorned the Rock of his salvation,” or literally, the Rock of his Yeshua. There Yeshua (Jesus) is identified with the Rock, for as Paul says, “the Rock was Christ.”
Further, Moses chides Israel in Deuteronomy 32:18, saying, “You neglected the Rock who begot you, and forgot the God who gave you birth.” It is Christ who begets us by the incorruptible and immortal seed of the word (1 Peter 1:23, 24, 25), making us true children of God.
The Stone of Israel
When Jacob blessed his sons toward the end of his life, he gave the scepter to Judah (Genesis 49:10), but he gave the birthright to Joseph (1 Chronicles 5:1, 2). In Jacob’s blessing to Joseph, he said in Genesis 49:24, “from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel.” What “Stone” was this? It was the Stone that was owned by Jacob-Israel, of course. Although Scripture does not tell us that he had brought it with him to Egypt, it suddenly appears here as an important possession, so important that it was entrusted to Joseph in his commissioning as the steward of the birthright.
It is called “the Shepherd,” because it was the symbol of Christ, “the Great Shepherd” (Hebrews 13:20). A shepherd leads the sheep, and sheep gather around the shepherd and look to him for their provision. The fact that God provided water from this Rock makes it a symbol of divine provision.
So the Stone of Israel was the rallying point for the people, a symbol of government—Joseph’s government. We see that God stood upon the Rock (Exodus 17:6), for like the Ark of the Covenant, it represented the throne of Christ and the focal point of the Kingdom. This theme culminates in the great Stone Kingdom whose government grows until it fills the whole earth (Daniel 2:35).
In Exodus 17:6, it appears that the Stone was placed on the top of Mount Horeb at the base of the great split rock, for even today one can see the markings of a tremendous volume of water that once flowed from the top of the blackened Mount, known today as Jabal al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia.
To watch a longer video of Mount Sinai, go here:
The Coronation Stone
In later years, the kings in Jerusalem used this Rock (or “pillar”) in their coronation ceremonies. The Bible mentions this more than once. When Jehoash was made king at the age of seven, overthrowing Athaliah, the usurper, we read in 2 Kings 11:12-14,
12 Then he brought the king’s son out and put the crown on him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, “Long live the king!” 13 When Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she came to the people in the house of the Lord. 14 And she looked and behold, the king was standing by [or “on”] the pillar, according to the custom…
The same story is told again in 2 Chronicles 23:11-13, where we read that “the king was standing by his pillar at the entrance.” It was not only “THE pillar,” but also “HIS pillar.” If Jehoash had been crowned between the pillars known as Jachin and Boaz at the entrance of the temple (2 Chronicles 3:17), we would have read that the king was standing by “THE PILLARS.” But this was a single pillar, which Jehoash had the right to own by virtue of his coronation. Most translators say the young king was standing “by the pillar,” but the Hebrew just as easily can read “on the pillar.”
The other passage where this stone pillar is mentioned is in the story of King Josiah, a godly king who made a solemn covenant with God after discovering a long-lost copy of the law. We read in 2 Kings 23:3 says,
3 And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant.
The people had been idolatrous for many years prior to Josiah’s reign, and so Josiah gave orders to remove from the temple all of the astrological trappings of idolatrous worship. It seemed important to him that this covenant with God should be made in association with “the pillar,” on which he and the other kings had been crowned.
There I showed how the prophet Jeremiah took the stone to Ireland, along with the king’s daughters, after Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians. From Ireland it was taken to Scotland in 838 A.D., and in 1296 it was taken to London, where it remained for 700 years until 1996 when finally it was returned to Scotland. Throughout these centuries, it was used at the coronation ceremonies of the monarchs, including Queen Elizabeth herself.
The prophetic significance of this stone is that it represents the divine right to rule—if, indeed, the monarchs would keep the covenant that Josiah made upon this pillar long ago. Unfortunately, few have known the laws of God and even fewer have attempted to administer them in their kingdoms. Nonetheless, the Coronation Stone is an enduring symbol of Christ’s throne, and it awaits the One whose right it is to rule all nations.
This is part 44 of a series titled "Studies in First Corinthians." To view all parts, click the link below.