Gift of the Holy Spirit
This week we will be exploring a story of overwhelming abundance. As with many of the events we’ve seen thus far, God is far more able to ransom, deliver and provide for His children than we are to receive or conceive His blessings. This session covers the dramatic events which unfold in the Valley of Rephidim, near the base of Mt. Horeb. Once again the newly freed Hebrews find their lives at risk with only God to save. God’s plan is for Moses to “strike” a rock. What comes out is shocking and deeply prophetic. More than just another miraculous sign from God, the Split Rock event reverberates through the ages, echoing a call that would one day be shouted from a mountain top:
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”
Part 1 – Word
The Hebrews have just come through the Yam Suph on dry ground. It was a transformative journey that delivered them out of the hands of Egypt. Forever. At this point in their journey, they’ve already been given strange bread from heaven, meat that walks through their camps, bitter water transformed into a sweet drink by some obedience and a piece of wood, and 12 deep wells of water, one for each tribe. (See Ex. 15-16) Abundance! What have they to fear while journeying from the wilderness of Sin into the Valley of Rephidim? However, the late spring heat of Arabia is sapping moisture at an alarming rate and they just left the only reliable water source since Egypt. We now find the Hebrews wishing they’d stayed put with their “meat pots” and drinking water. Like the adage from Texas reminds us, you can take a Hebrew out of Egypt, but you can’t take Egypt out of a Hebrew. Unless, of course, you are God.
Read Aloud – Exodus 17
vs 1-2: It seems the people have still not learned to trust in God for their provision. They are in need, real need, so they “quarrel with Moses”. Moses is clearly concerned at this and asks them why they are fighting him? Don’t they know they are actually testing God?! The answer simply is no. They don’t yet see God as their ultimate source for all provision.
- Have you ever been in a situation where you experienced lack, either mild or severe?
- If so, did you panic, and in that panicked state, look to your leader (i.e governments, pastors, bosses, spouses etc) to immediately supply your need?
- Is that testing God? How?
- What did God expect Israel to do instead of “test” Him and contend with Moses?
vs 5: It seems that because of the quarreling unbelief of the people, Moses was instructed to take his leadership ahead of them. What happens next, the miraculous provision of God, the people did not witness.
- All the people of Israel didn’t see the miracle, but did they benefit from it?
- Can unbelief keep us from seeing God’s miraculous provision?
- Does God provide even if we are too scared to trust Him? Can you recall any scriptures that speak into this? What does this tell us about God?
vs 6-7: We will cover in-depth verse 6 in the next section, but notice that the site was named “Is the Lord among us or not?” The name summarizes what was going on spiritually with the Hebrews at the Split Rock. They were still in the process of getting Egypt out of them, and only by the power of the Living God would centuries of identifying themselves as a slave be washed away in the flood God’s overwhelming provision.
- Have you ever asked God the question, “Are you with me or not?” If so, what was His answer?
- How do we know that God is with us?
Teaching Note: Suggest reading these passages for further reflection John 14:15-27, Romans 8:31-39
For this next part, we will look at some keywords in the Hebrew which help us flesh out Ex. 17:6. First, we must discover the deep meaning of the words, then we can piece them together in the next section. Word Study involves locating the Hebrew word, defining it using a Hebrew Lexicon and then looking at some passages where the word is used to get a sense of its contextual meaning.
‘eben – stone (small or large), as a material (source: Gesenius’s Lexicon – Strongs number H68)
The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of ‘eben, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction. Exodus 24:12 NIV
Teaching Note: This word is shown only so we can distinguish between small stone rocks and large, massive cliffs. This is an important part of getting the right picture of what actually took place at the Split Rock event. It is not a word used in Ex. 17.
tsuwr – rock, cliff, block of stone, deity (source: Gesenius’s Lexicon – Strongs number H6697)
Blessed be the LORD my tsuwr, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle. Psalms 144:1 NKJV
Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the tsuwr from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; Isaiah 51:1 NIV
- Why do we use an inanimate object like a rock as a metaphor for God?
- Are we animists, people who think God is in all things, rocks, trees, water, fire etc.? Of course no. Why then does the word tsuwr mean, among other things, deity?
Teaching Note: Ex. 17:6 is the first time in scripture this word tsuwr is used. The Split Rock event must have been so powerfully descriptive of God for the event to be forever engraved in the hearts and minds of Israel. I believe this is a key origin (among others) of the idea of “living water” in scripture. As you are preparing for this study, look up the idea of “living water” and compare it to “cistern water”. Search “living water” in Blue Letter Bible with the NIV translation for a jump start.
Teaching Note: According to the exegetical principle of First Use (the first time a word or concept is used in scripture goes a long way in defining its meaning/usage for the rest of scripture), tsuwr in the rest of scripture seems to be connected to the Split Rock event. As you are preparing, do a word study on tsuwr with that in mind. You’ll discover some very powerful connections.
nakah– to strike, to smite, to hit, to beat, to slay, to kill, to chastise, send judgment upon. (source: Gesenius’s Lexicon – Strongs number H5221)
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, nakah by God, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:4 NKJV
Teachers Note: If you ever hear anyone say “The Jews killed our Lord”, please direct them to this passage in Isaiah 53. Clearly it was God’s plan to nakah His only Son. How could the Jews or Romans do what the Father planned on doing from the beginning?
panyin – face (literal), presence, person. (source: Gesenius’s Lexicon – Strongs number H6440)
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the panyin of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the panyin of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2 ESV
Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts, and will lift up your skirts over your panyin; and I will make nations look at your nakedness and kingdoms at your shame. Nahum 3:5 ESV
Part II – Historical Evidence
Often times we get our understanding of the bible from popular culture and not from what is actually in the text. A great example of this is the traditional New Testament story of the Three Wise Men. A careful reader will discover that the Magi were defiantly not in Bethlehem and the TExt never said there were three of them. Or what about Christmas trees…were they banned in the bible? … seriously go read it – Jer. 10:1-4 (FYI – this is more humorous than dogmatic! Please don’t go crazy.) But what does popular culture, whether it’s current pop culture or pop culture of the day in which our ideas or reading material was formed, say about the Split Rock event?
Here is a picture from the 15th Century Renaissance painter Francesco Bacchiacca of the Split Rock event. If you look close you can see quite an idyllic scene. There is a cute little lamb in a lady’s lap and a bunch of well dressed Italians holding out what looks like beer steins, hoping to catch a tiny trickle of God’s famous water. Here are some biblical references to the Split Rock event. Let’s see if this image is an accurate representation of the biblical text.
“And they did not thirst when He led them through the deserts; He caused the waters to flow from the rock for them; He also split the rock, and the waters gushed out.” ~ Isa. 48:21 NKJV
“Waters gushed out” Really? Does this picture look like gushing? Remember, the number present in this actual historical event an in the neighborhood of 1-2 million, animals not included. Could a million-plus get water from this trickle?
“He split the rocks in the wilderness and gave them abundant drink like the ocean depths.” ~ Psalm 78:15 NASB
The Psalmist remembers this event as an overwhelmingly abundant torrent of water that formed deep pools in the desert. Why say “ocean depths” unless the amount of water present was enormous? We also see this word split used in both references. It is a word (baqa’ – H1234)that means “to split, cleave, divide, breakthrough, ripped open, be split open.” Thus the term I’ve been using, Split Rock Event. So does this image look like a Split Rock? NO! I think it looks more like a Spit Rock! Here lies a major problem with getting our understanding of the bible from pop culture. What God did in Ex. 17 was an overwhelming, life-changing outpouring of provision.
God is still in the business of destroying our puny expectations of what He can and will do! But many of us do not expect Him to provide over and above what we could ask or imagine. Why? Either we don’t read our bibles and believe in what they say, or we only get our info from crummy sources, like Renaissance painters or Hollywood movies. Exodus 17 is one of the hundreds of examples in the Bible that shows God providing far beyond what the people (the grumpy, contentious people) could ask for. Let’s not get caught in the trap of the enemy and let tradition or culture define for us who God is and what God can do. Even if you are debating whether or not to trust in God, you might as well know what He’s actually promised you before you reject Him. As we continue our study it is vital we allow the text itself to show us what is true. And if our tradition, culture or experience tells us something different than the scriptures, we would do well to stand on what never changes.
Let’s look at perhaps a more accurate portrayal of the rock in the Split Rock event. To the left is a rock that is found in the northern part of today’s Saudi Arabia. It is a massive monolith that juts out from the side of a rocky hillside. It is roughly 60 feet tall (roughly because no extensive research has been allowed at the site) and the split down the middle is large enough for a person to easily walkthrough. The base of the rock there appears to have large water channels carved into the granite boulders below. All this in an area that gets less than a half-inch of rain every ten years! Jim and Penny Caldwell (www.splitrockresearch.org)have detailed images and videos of this rock and the areas surrounding it. Please visit their site for more information. We will take a deeper look at the rock using Google Earth in the next section, but for now, let’s use this tsuwr as our visual representation of the Split Rock Event.
Detailed Analysis of Ex. 17:6
“Behold I will stand before you there at the rock at Horeb and you shall strike the rock and water will come out that the people may drink.” “Behold, I will stand panyin there at the tsuwr at Horeb…”
So we know what the tsuwr is. In the above passage, who is doing the talking? Who is the “I”? God. God says I will stand panyin at the rock. Who is the “you” in this passage? Moses. Could this mean God is facing Moses when He speaks the rest of the verse? I think so. Moses is facing God. What does he have in his hands? Does he have the 10 Commandments yet? No. The below image is from Rembrandt’s famous painting of Moses on Mount Sinai. So let’s get rid of the 10 Commandments. What did Moses have in his hands? The rod with which he struck the Nile. Important. The rod is made of wood. We read on. God says:
“…and you shall nakah the tsuwr and water will come out that the people may drink.”
God commands Moses and Moses obeys. He strikes the rock, and when he strikes the rock water comes gushing out. Simple enough right? Well, hidden beneath the surface of a dramatic miracle is a much deeper type and shadow of what’s to come. Let’s put the expanded meanings of the Hebrew words plus our understanding of the event into verse 6.
“Behold, I [God] will stand facing you [Moses] there at the rock at Horeb and you shall kill, smite the deity [me God] [with a piece of wood] and [when you do] water will come out that people may drink.”
Do you see the Messianic connection? Jesus came and tabernacled among us (John 1), which means He came in human flesh and walked around with humankind face to face. But it was on a horrid wooden cross that He was killed by God the Father (remember!!) so that rivers of living water would flow out of Him. (We’ll get to this.) When Jesus was crucified, Matthew records the following:
“And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” ~ Matt. 27:51 ESV
The Prophet Zechariah tells of an interesting event in chapter 14:4:
“On that day his feet [Messiah] shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward.” ~ Zech. 14:4 ESV
And just in case you think these connections too abstract, let’s try something more concrete. It’s from Saint Paul and he is quite clear about the connections with the Split Rock event and Christ.
“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 Cor. 10:3-4 NKJV
What was the drink of the Exodus? These are very strong, clear pictures of the coming Messiah. At least, He was yet to come when these events happened around 1446 B.C. But now, He has come and fulfilled the Split Rock event’s prophetic meaning. Let me show you. Take a look at John 7. This passage takes place during the festival of Sukkot. Sukkot is a wonderful feast where people crowd the streets of Jerusalem for seven days and pitch tents in celebration of the time God came down at Sinai and tabernacled among them. The last day of the feast is a special ceremony where priests pour living water taken from the Pool of Siloam over the burnt offerings, mixing blood and water, (What came out of Jesus side on the cross?) while the people crowding Temple Mount shake palm branches (among other things) and shout “Hosanna” which means “God save us!” It is in this context that we read the following:
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. ~ John 7:37-39 ESV
John clearly says that the “living water” Jesus was talking about is promised Holy Spirit. Promised because the Holy Spirit was given after Jesus was glorified (resurrected). A more detailed study of the Jewish festivals and how the Messiah fulfilled them, as well as their connection to the Temple, is in the works. There is much more to tell in this regard. Are you convinced yet that the Split Rock event is connected to Jesus and the Holy Spirit? I hope so. Now let me show you where the Split Rock event took place and why even the physical geography is connected to Messiah and Temple Mount.
Part III – Google Earth
01 – Split Rock
This is a Google Earth screenshot of the Valley of Rephidim. If this site is the correct one, it’s the location of the first war Israel ever fought as a nation. You can see the Split Rock directly to the bottom left of the water icon. The rock juts out from the small hillside it sits on. It is a tall, thin rock with a large split down the middle. On Google Earth, this feature shows up as a thin, dark line (shadow) across the middle of the rock. In addition to the shadow the split casts through the center of the rock, there is an even larger shadow cast towards the north, northwest.
02 – Shadow of a Great Rock
This is a view looking east up the hill towards the Split Rock. The large red line is a 3D measurement of the shadow the Split Rock casts down the hill. If you zoom in with GE you can see a dark line 300 feet long. The satellite image must have been taken the late afternoon for such a long shadow to be captured. However, this “coincidence” helps us understand a very interesting piece of scripture that uses the imagery of the Split Rock event.
1 See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. 2 Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land. ~ Isaiah 32:1-2 (NIV)
Was the prophet Isaiah was using a very familiar word picture here? If this rock is the actual rock, it probably remained in the conciseness of the people during the life of Isaiah (active ca. 740-701 BC – 700 years after the Split Rock event). It makes sense these clearly Messianic prophecies would be connected. Look at verse 2. “Each man will be like … streams of water in the desert…”Did Jesus ever say that those who come to Him and drink will have rivers of water flowing out of them? Remember what that meant? It’s because of the Holy Spirit living in the believer that we become like Jesus, like the “King who reigns in righteousness”. It’s because of the Holy Spirit, the Living Water in the desert land, that each man can become an oasis. Is this what Isaiah is saying? That one day those who are filled with the Spirit will become water and shade to a world that is dry and barren? Interesting how these connections keep piling up.
03 – Picture of Split Rock
Here is the picture you saw earlier of the rock. This is a view of the north.
04 – Water Erosion
Here is a picture of the base of the rock. Look for a large hand-shaped erosional feature to the bottom left of the split. Jim and Penny Caldwell have a picture of them sitting there, totally enveloped by the feature. This is a large rock. At the base, there also seems to be evidence of water erosion. The Caldwell’s have a video showing deep channels cut by massive aquatic flows. The granite here is loose and crumbly and nothing at all like materials found in the surrounding landscape. Clearly something is unique about this rock.
05 – Looking South
This is a view from the north side of the valley looking back south towards the rock. You can see how the hill that the Split Rock sits on is very exposed, and not connected to a larger rock formation. I can only speculate about the geological processes that created a structure like this. But it is fascinating none the less.
Teachers Note: If you are following along in GE, go down to the “Layers” menu in the bottom left side of your window. Click on the box to show “Panoramio Photos”. Scattered blue boxes should show up with images uploaded by users around the world. Among them is a neat shot of the Split Rock from this view.
Also, while you are in your “Layers” menu, click on the box to activate “3D Buildings”. You’ll need it in a few moments. You also might want to turn off “Panoramio Photos” before you go any further. They get very distracting later on.
06 – Dead Center
Now we’re going to do something very cool. In GE we can pinpoint exact locations. What I’ve done is pinpoint the dead center of the split in the Split Rock. The longitude is 35°14’10.28″E. This a-line of the meridian that runs north/south that is 35 degrees 14 minutes and 10.28 seconds East of Greenwich Meridian. why am I telling you this? Go with me to the book of Galatians chapter 4. This is a very dense and wonderful passage. It is not our goal to study the theological implications of the text, but I draw your attention here because the text includes some important geographical insights. Paul was a “Pharisee of Pharisees” and very well learned in the Torah. We can assume he knew the oral traditions of the Jews very well. Could it be that during the life of Paul the true location of Mt. Sinai was still known? Look what Paul says in Galatians 4:
24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. ~ Galatians 4:24-26 (ESV)
Paul is giving us a clue here. During the life of Paul Arabia was the Roman Provence of Arabia Petraea. Its borders encompassed the ancient land of Midian and, therefore, Mt. Sinai. If Paul says Mt. Sinai is in Arabia we should believe him. After all, he went to Arabia immediately after Jesus met him on the road to Damascus (Gal. 1:17). Why? That’s another study! Not only does Paul say is Sinai in Arabia, but he also says Sinai “corresponds” to this present Jerusalem. That word corresponds is a Greek term that Aristotle used to describe a line of meridian. It’s a geographic term. Meridian runs north-south. Then in verse 26, we learn the present Jerusalem is above and free. The word above in Greek literally means, “up, northward, inland from the coast” (source: Gesenius’s Lexicon – Strongs number G507) Let’s put all this together. Paul says Mt. Sinai is in Arabia and to the north along a line of a meridian is the present Jerusalem. Interesting. Do you see where this is going? Paul does say this is allegory in Galatians 4. But maybe it’s also an allegory and not only allegory. Let’s connect this with the Split Rock event.
07 – North View
To the right is a view looking North towards Jerusalem from Split Rock. We know the Split Rock is near Mt. Sinai. Can the above geographic analysis can be applied here too? I started wondering if this was actually the Split Rock, is it connected physically to Jerusalem in some way? It is such a powerful picture of the Messiah Jesus and the promise of His Holy Spirit. Are these the only connections? As it turns out they are not.
08 – Line Due North
We have our precise degrees of longitude from the center of Split Rock that I showed you earlier. Using that I created a 3D line that follows the line of the meridian (35°14’10.28″E ) due north for 210 miles. This is a very precise measurement thanks to Google Earth. Let’s follow that line and see where it goes.
09 – 210 Miles Due North
Do you recognize this location? It is Temple Mount in Jerusalem. (If you do not have 3D Building turned on you won’t see the Temple Mount diagram.) The line from Split Rock goes straight across the eastern part of Temple Mount. It also goes within 350 feet of the Pool of Siloam and right over the Springs of Gihon, the water source for the pool. This is also the ancient palace area of King David. Strange that things so symbolically connected would also have profound geographic connections?
10 – Site of Future Temple?
If we zoom in a bit we can see a large open space on Temple Mount where many people think the 1st and 2nd temple’s stood. There are 2 main hypotheses as to the location of the ancient Temple, they are called the Northern and Southern conjectures. From my research, I am leaning towards the hypothesis put forward by Dr. Leem Ritmeyer that the 2nd Temple was built roughly over the existing Dome of the Rock. There are also many who think the open space north of the Dome of the Rock will allow Ezekiel’s Temple to be built side by side – for a time. For those who are interested, these are some fascinating veins for further study.
11 – Eastern Gate
If we move back to the east we get an interesting view from the Mount of Olives and across the Kidron Valley. The Split Rock line comes within 350 feet of the Eastern Gate. I stopped the line to line up with the Eastern Gate. Many people think that Ezekiel’s Temple will face the Eastern Gate and Messiah will come in through the Eastern Gate and walk straight into the Holy of Holies. (see Ezk. 40-43) Whatever is actually the case, the physical connection to Temple Mount from a Rock 210 miles away according to a geographical analysis given by Paul is astounding.
There are many more important connections between the “Living Water” of the Split Rock event and the “Living Water” of John 7. I hope this gets you started in your searching. Like most things in scripture, once you get in deep you can’t get out. There truly is layer after layer of meaning and discovery, especially once you discover “place”. God acted in human history and walked certain places on earth. We should never worship the ground Jesus walked. How foolish! But we ought to worship He who walked the ground. Discovering actual geographic locations – as opposed to traditional sites -seems to unlock a deep understanding of the Bible. Understanding which hopefully draws you into awe and love for the Creator who overlooked no detail. One thing I hope you discovered in this session is the amazing precision of God’s scriptures. Be they precise foretelling of events thousands of years in the future with mind-bending miracles, or precise geographic convergence covering hundreds of miles, God’s scriptures are truly alive. There is also something amazing about the times we live in which allows this level of discovery. Even 10 years ago this kind of study would not have been possible. We just ran to and fro across some of the most politically and religiously volatile territory and subject matter on earth. As we did our knowledge of the Bible and of Him who spoke into existence all things from nothing increased. Is there more? Why are we getting all this new information now? Could we really be nearing the end of the age, and are the times of which Daniel spoke upon us?
3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Daniel 12:3-4 ESV