Updated: Apr 16
Ps. 18:2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
There are so many scriptures in the Word that refer to God as being The Rock. Then when we get to the Brit Hadashah we find references to Yeshua being a rock. Have you ever wondered why? What could be the metaphor behind this terminology?
To understand we have to go way back, but before I go to what I believe is the origin of The Rock I want to start with Moses. In the wilderness the children of Israel cried out for water and so Moses strikes a rock and water gushes out (Numbers 20:11). Now, when God told Moses to “strike a rock” one has to wonder about what Moses could have thought at this point. Couldn't you just hear Moses saying, “LORD, which rock, I am surrounded by rocks big enough to strike?” Maybe Moses didn't have to wonder that because he knew exactly which rock God was talking about. Perhaps this rock that Moses struck was a certain rock. In Hebrew the rock contained the definite article “hey” in front of it meaning a specific rock – The Rock. So, what was this rock and why was it there in their presence?
In Genesis 28:10-22 we read:
And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took one of the stones of that place, and put it at his head, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
The usual focus of this story seems to be upon the ladder that he saw but let's think about the stone that he set up as a memorial pillar and called the house of El.
Rocks were used as reminders in that time period. Jacob and Laban set up stones for remembrance in Genesis 31:44 - 47. We find Joshua setting up stones as memorials when they crossed the Jordan into the promised land. These stones would serve as a national reminder to future generations of the miraculous river crossing. Jacob and Laban’s piled up stones would be a reminder of a covenant. They didn't have cameras to take pictures but they marked important events by setting up memorial markers. So, here Jacob has this awesome encounter with God and he anoints a rock with oil and sets it up as a memorial of the God he met there that day. The God of his father and grandfather. Notice that he says in verses 20 and 21 that if this God of his fathers keeps him and brings him back in safety to this place that this God will be HIS God. Up until that point this was the God of his fathers but he doesn’t seem to have made a definite commitment yet. At any rate this rock that he anointed and set up was his memorial stone for remembering his encounter with a Mighty God. He stated in verse 22 that this rock would be called, or represent, the house of Elohim.
In Genesis 49:24 we find Jacob blessing his son Joseph and he proclaims over him:
But his bow remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel).
The ISV translation makes this a little clearer: Nevertheless his bow remained steady and his arms kept in shape by the strength of Jacob's Mighty One, in the name of the Shepherd, Israel's Rock.
Israel's (Jacob's) Rock! The Rock of Jacob became The Rock of all of his descendants. This Rock was the Shepherd of Israel. This clearly relates back to Jacob’s memorial stone where he met God.
This Rock became the chief cornerstone: “Therefore this is what the LORD God says: 'Look! I am laying a foundation stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation: Whoever believes firmly will not act hastily” Isaiah 28:16.
Now, Yeshua is The Rock, the Shepherd of Israel. He is: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” Ps 118:22.
Israel rebelled against their Rock: “Jacob dined until satisfied; Jeshurun (Jerusalem) grew fat and kicked. He grew fat, coarse, and gross, so that he abandoned the God who made him and spurned The Rock that was his salvation (Yeshu'ah).” Deut 32:15
This Rock is the Messiah Yeshua. He was the Rock/Shepherd they rejected. He is The Rock that brought salvation. His very name declares it! He is identified not only as the manna that they ate in the wilderness, the bread from heaven, but He is also The Rock that Moses struck to get water. Yeshua was struck as the suffering Messiah and living waters gushed forth. Physically, water came from His side but spiritually He is the living waters.
According to Jewish literature, a rock followed along with Israel in the wilderness for 40 years. They called it “The Well of Miriam”. After Moses struck it, the rock continued to give forth water until right before they entered the promised land. The water is said to have stopped flowing from The Rock when Miriam died. At this point Moses had to ask God for water once again and this is when he struck The Rock when he was only supposed to speak to The Rock. He was denied entrance to the promised land because of his disobedience in this matter.
There is another legend (Christian) that the rock that followed them was this same rock that Jacob set up and that he took it with him when they went down into Egypt. Remember: it was a memorial pillar. It was like their picture to put it in modern terms. They then carried this Rock with them during the whole wilderness journey. Therefore, when God told Moses to strike The Rock – Moses may have known exactly which Rock that God was referring to.
In I Corinthians 10:4 scripture states: “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”
Exactly what the Apostle Paul is referring to here we do not know. Perhaps he was referring to the tradition that I mentioned above about the rock following them. Maybe he was referring just to Messiah as being manifested among them as bread and water. However you wish to believe, the statement and the traditions are there. The shadow of Messiah is there and the shadow of Messiah is there in Jacob’s stone, the Shepherd of Israel and the salvation of Israel. Jacob came to know His God - The Rock. The metaphor for the rock reference is surely tied back to Jacob’s vision and the setting up of a stone as a memorial and as a representation to the House of Elohim.
Yeshua is The Rock of our salvation, the Shepherd of Israel. He is The Rock that the builders rejected and He was The Rock that Moses struck signifying His suffering as Our Redeemer. From Him living waters flow. He is now The Rock of offense and The Rock that can be a stumbling block. The Rock that can crush. The Mighty One of Israel. The Mighty God of Jacob.
I encourage you to go look up all the scriptures containing information about this Rock.
May blessings from The Rock be upon you,
All scripture from ISV or KJV