Christ the Living Waters

NR3-10   TAB-19   XAS-14


John 7:37-38

Christ the Living Waters


Christ the Living Waters from the Rock – WOMAN AT THE WELL

John 4:10, 14

Jesus answered and said to her,  “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”


John 7:37-38


On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”




1 Corinthians 10:4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.




Exodus 33:17 He is the One greater than the deliverer, Moses – He is Christ in ALL the Scriptures! In Exodus we find Christ:

  • The Voice in the Burning Bush (3.1-6)
  • The Passover Lamb of God (12.1-28)
  • The Unleavened Bread (13.3-10)
  • The Rock/Pillar of Cloud and Fire leading them (13.21-22)
  • The Red Sea Crossing (14.1-31)
  • The Manna from Heaven (16.1-36)
  • The Source of Living Water (17.1-7)

We can see Pictures of Christ in every section of Exodus.


Pictures of Christ: The Burning Bush (3:1-6)


Pictures of Christ: The Passover (12:1-28)










Exodus 15-18 records Seven EXPERIENCES the Israelites had that correspond [1] to our Christian experience.

  • THIS LIFE IS A STRUGGLE: The Wilderness of Shur  was the spot of the Song of the Redeemed (15:1-22) this reminds us that we aren’t promised a bed of roses after our salvation/redemption.
  • CHRIST IS OUR HOPE: At Marah, the Bitter Water was Sweetened by a Tree (15:23-26) which reminds us that Christ’s cross sweetens the bitter experiences of life with the hope of His presence, His Peace, and His Plan.
  • CHRIST MAKES US FRUITFUL: The Oasis at Elim (15:27) with 12 wells and 70 palms reminds us of the promises He gives of a Fruitful Christian life.
  • CHRIST SATISFIES US: In the Wilderness of Sin they were provided Manna and Quail (16.1-36) which reminds us that Christ is the Bread of Life who provides all we need.
  • CHRIST DIED ONCE FOR OUR SINS: The Smitten Rock of Rephadim (17.1-7) reminds us that “that Rock Was Christ” and He was only to be smitten once.
  • WE ARE HIS SOLDIERS: The fight with Amalek is a picture of our war with the Flesh (17:8-16) and the victory is the Lord’s and comes by prayer and His weapons. (Deut. 25:17-18);
  • HIS WORD IS OUR GUIDE: In the scene with Jethro, Priest of Midian (18) we see the value of God’s Wisdom revealed over the emptiness of the wisdom of this world. We now have that wisdom in His Word.




Pictures of Christ: The Water from the Rock (17:1-7)


To understand the fullness of the water from the Rock it is often helpful to see the Jewish celebration attached to it. Since Jesus attended and participated in these celebrations it is even more imperative to know and understand why.



The first[2] real test for the children of Israel when they came out of Egypt was this very point. God had opened the waters of the Red Sea to let them out of Egypt. He then closed the same waters behind them to keep them from ever getting back into Egypt. They then sang the first song in the Bible, as they stood on the wilderness shore of the sea. Then they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. …And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? (Exodus 15:22,24) In Egypt they could always look down to the Nile. That river, the longest in the world, had provided everything that they ever needed. The ancients used to say, and rightly so, “Egypt is the gift of the Nile.” But now, a mighty change ensues. These people, redeemed by blood and by power, find themselves in “the waste howling wilderness.”(Deut. 32:10)


Up until now, they had always looked down. From this time on, they were to look up.

  • Their food now came from above.
  • Their guidance now came from above.
  • Their water would now come from above out of a Rock.
  • The desert would provide nothing. All that they were to need for the journey would be met out of a gracious God’s fullness.


In answer to their question, “What shall we drink?” God gave them water from a most unlikely source – a flinty rock! And the New Testament teaches that “they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” (I Cor. 10:4)





The Water from the Rock in Exodus 17 is celebrated by the Jews at Tabernacles. This re-enactment of the Water from the Rock in Exodus 17 is known as Simcha Bet Ha-sho-evah (the Rejoicing of the House of Drawing Water).

  • This special ritual prophetically illustrates the time when the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon Israel.
  • It also illustrates the truth that Jesus Christ, the Giver of living water, probably was came to earth at Sukkot. So the Feast of Tabernacles “the Word became flesh and TABERNACLED among us” takes on a whole new meaning! John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water. ..Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:10, 13-14 NKJV).


We have seen[3] Christ’s ministry on the cross was vividly portrayed by the rituals surrounding Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First fruits. There’s one other image we need to get from the Temple celebrations. It is the one which commemorates the drawing of water from the rock at Horeb (Ex. 17:1-7). On the morning of the first day of the festival called Sukkot or Tabernacles, and every day thereafter, a priest carried a large golden ewer from the Temple mount down to the spring of Siloam. As he walked he was surrounded by jubilant worshipers who followed him as he drew water from the pool of Siloam.


The route back to the Temple led through the water gate, and into the inner court. There in that grand courtyard of Herod’s gigantic Temple, a huge cheering crowd always waited near the altar. As the water bearing priest approached the altar, the ceremonial silver trumpets were sounded.



Then would come the priests chanting the words of Isaiah:


“Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (12:3 NKJV).


Now here is the unforgettable significance of this moment.  In Isaiah 12:3 the word for “salvation” in Hebrew is Yeshua. This is exactly the same word in Hebrew we translate as “Jesus.” With that in mind think again of the scene. On the first through the sixth days, the priest and his joyful processional circled the altar once, but on the seventh day, they circled the altar seven times! All those times a whole group of priests are loudly affirming that with joy all were to draw water from the wells of JESUS!


The highlight of the ceremony occurred when the priest stood and poured the water on the altar. While the water washed away the blood of the morning’s sacrifices, a long line of priests, all bearing willow branches, sang psalms of praise. The Talmud[4] describes the ceremony in detail, including a portrait of venerable sages juggling lighted torches and performing somersaults as part of the celebration. The experience[5] was one of intense and total joy, so much so that the Talmud says whoever has not been in Jerusalem for this ceremony has not experienced real joy!


Now get the scene in your hearts with me:

  • Like all devout Jewish men, Jesus attended the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.
  • On the last day of one Sukkot festival, He stood and cried out to the crowd: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38 NKJV). The apostle John goes on to explain that Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit, which had not yet been given.
  • Can’t you just see it? Jesus and His disciples had just attended the glorious celebration inside the Temple. They had sung psalms with the priests, had perhaps followed the golden ewer of water seven times around the altar as they chanted Isaiah 12:3 “draw water from the wells of YESHUA (Jesus)”.
  • Then Jesus and His disciples watched the liquid stream over the altar, cleaning away the blood of goats and rams from the morning sacrifices. As the rustlings of a thousand palms filled the air, foreshadowing the palms that would be lifted to hail Him when He would enter Jerusalem to die at Passover.
  • In the midst of all that, Jesus spoke in a commanding voice and explained the ritual the Jews had just witnessed. “If any thirst LET THEM COME TO ME! He was the Light of the World, the Living Water, the Word made flesh to dwell among them. He would soon be the Passover Lamb, the Bread Without Leaven, the First fruits. As our sinless High Priest, He would atone for sin once and for all.
  • For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring. -Isaiah 44:3 NKJV
  • Hundreds in the Temple that day heard Him …but only those with understanding believed. Do you?



  • The “Rock” is one of the titles[6] of Jehovah, found frequently on the pages of the O.T. In his “song,” Moses laments that Israel forsook God and “lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation” (Deut. 32:15). In his song, we also hear the sweet singer of Israel saying, “The Lord is my Rock, and my Fortress, and my Deliverer” (2 Sam. 22:2). The Psalmist bids us make a “joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation” (95:1). While the prophet Isaiah tells us “And a Man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a Great Rock in a weary land” (32:2). In the N.T. we get that memorable and precious word, “Upon this Rock (pointing to Himself, not referring to Peter’s confession) I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18).
  • The first thing that impresses one when we see a rock is its strength and stability, a characteristic noted in Scripture in the question of Bildad to Job, “Shall the rock be removed out of his place?” (Job. 18:4). This is a most comforting thought to the believer. The Rock upon which he is built cannot be shaken: the floods may come, and the winds may beat upon it, but it will “stand” (Matthew 7:25).
  • Another prominent characteristic of rocks is their durability. They outlast the storms of time. Waters will not wash them away, nor winds remove them, from their foundations. Many a vessel has been dashed to pieces on a rock, but the rock stands unchanged; and it is a deeply solemn thought that those who are not built upon The Rock, will be shattered by it—”And whosoever shall fall on this Stone shall be broken,” said Christ, pointing to Himself, “but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matthew 21:24).
  • A third feature that may be mentioned about a rock is its elevation. It towers high above man and is a landmark throughout that part of the country where it is situated. Some rocks are so high and so steep that they cannot be scaled. Each of these characteristics find their application to and realization in the Lord Jesus. He is the strong and powerful One—”The mighty God” (Isa. 9:6). He is the durable One—”the Same yesterday and today and forever.” He is the elevated One, exalted to the Throne of Heaven, seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
  • The first thing to be noted here in our type is that the rock was to be smitten. This, of course, speaks of the death of the Lord Jesus. It is striking to note the order of the typical teaching of Exodus 16 and 17. In the former we have that which speaks of the incarnation of Christ; in the latter, that which foreshadowed the crucifixion of Christ. Exodus 17 is supplementary to chapter 16. Christ must descend from Heaven to earth (as the manna did) if He was to become the Bread of life to His people; but He must be smitten by Divine judgment if He was to be the Water of life to them! Here is another reason for the opening “And.”
  • There are three details here which enable us to fix the interpretation of the smiting of the rock as a type of the death of the Lord Jesus. First, it was to be smitten by the rod of Moses. The “rod” in the hand of Moses had been the symbol of judgment. The first reference to it definitely determines that. When he cast it on to the ground it became a “serpent” (4:3)—reminder of the curse. With his rod the waters of the Nile were smitten and turned into blood (7:17), and so on. Second, only the “elders of Israel” witnessed the smiting of the rock. This emphasizes the governmental character of what was here foreshadowed. Third, Jehovah Himself stood upon the rock while it was smitten. “Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb” (v. 6)—marvelous line in the picture was this. Putting these things together what spiritual eye can fail to see here a portrayal of our Substitute being smitten by the rod of Divine justice, held in the hand of the Governor of the Universe. Doubtless that word in Isaiah 53:4, 5 looks back to this very type—”Smitten of God . . . by His stripes we are healed.” How solemn to behold that it was the people’s sin which led to the smiting of the rock!
  • Out from the smitten rock flowed the water. Beautiful type was this of the Holy Spirit—gift of the crucified, now glorified, Savior. May not this be one reason why the Holy Spirit is said to be “poured out” (Acts 2:18)?—speaking in the language of this very type. The gift of the Holy Spirit was consequent upon the crucifixion and exaltation of the Lord Jesus. This is clear from His own words from John 7:37, 38: “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” Now mark the interpretation which is given us in the very next verse: “But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given because that Jesus was not yet glorified.”
  • The Holy Spirit has given us a supplementary word through the Psalmist which enhances the beauty of the picture found in Exodus 17. There we are told, “He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river. For He remembered His holy promise (to) Abraham His servant” (105:41, 42). It was because of His covenant to Abraham that God gave the water to Israel. So, too. we read of God promising to give eternal life to His elect “before the world began” (Titus 1:1, 2), and this, on the basis of “the everlasting covenant” (Heb. 13: 20).
  • 1 Corinthians 10, also supplements Exodus 17. In the historical narrative we read of Moses striking the rock in the presence of “the elders” of Israel, but nothing is there said about the people drinking of the streams of water that flowed from it. But in 1 Corinthians 10:4, we are told, “And did all drink the same spiritual drink.” This is an important word. It affirms, in type, that all of God’s people have received the Holy Spirit. There are some who deny this. There are those who teach that receiving the Holy Spirit is a second work of grace. This is a serious error. Just as all the children of Israel (God’s covenant people) drank of the water from the smitten rock. so in the anti-type, all of God’s children are made partakers of the Holy Spirit, gift of the ascended Christ—”And because ye are sons, God had sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6). There is no such thing as a believer in Christ who has not received the Holy Spirit: “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of Him” (Rom. 8:9).
  1. Much of the blessedness of our type will pass unappreciated unless we note carefully the occasion when the stream of living water gushed from the smitten rock. It was not when Israel were bowed in worship before the Lord. it was not when they were praising Him for all His abundant mercies toward them. No such happy scene do the opening verses of Exodus 17 present to our view. The very reverse is what is there described. Israel were murmuring (v. 3); they were almost ready to stone God’s servant (v. 4); they were filled with unbelief, saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” (v. 7). The giving of the water, then, was God acting according to His marvelous grace. Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. But, be it well noted, it was grace acting on a righteous basis. Not till the rock was smitten did the waters flow forth. And not till the Savior had been bruised by God was the Gospel of His grace sent forth to “every creature.” What, my reader, is the response of your heart to this amazing and rich mercy of God? Surely you say, out of deepest gratitude, “thanks be unto God for His unspeakable Gift” (2 Cor. 9:15).
  2. This chapter would not be complete were we to close without a brief word upon Numbers 20, where we again find Moses smiting the rock. “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron, thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes, and it shall give forth His water, and thou shall bring forth to them water out of the rock; so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink” (vv. 7, 8).
  3. What is recorded in Numbers 20 occurred forty years later than what has been before us in Exodus 17. Almost everything here is in sharp contrast. The rock in Exodus 17 foreshadowed Christ on the cross; the rock in Numbers 20 pictured Him on high. The Hebrew word for “rock” is not the same. The word used here in Numbers 20 means an elevated rock, pointing plainly to the Savior in His exaltation. Next, we notice that Moses was not now bidden to “strike” the rock, but simply to speak to it. In Exodus 17 the rock was smitten before the “elders” of Israel; here Moses was bidden to “gather the assembly together.” And while Jehovah bade him take a rod, it was not the rod used in Exodus 17. On the former occasion Moses was to use his own rod—”Thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river.” That was the rod of judgment. But here he was to take “The rod” (Num. 20:8), namely, the rod of Aaron. This is clear from verse 9, “And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as He commanded him” if we compare it with Numbers 17:10—”And the Lord saith unto Moses, Bring Aaron’s rod again before the testimony (viz., the Ark in the Holy of Holies), to he kept for a token against the rebels.” This, then, was the priestly rod. Mark also how this aspect of truth was further emphasized in the type by the Lord bidding Moses, on this second occasion, to take Aaron along with him—Aaron is not referred to at the first smiting of the rock!
  4. The interpretation of the typical meaning of Numbers 20:8 is therefore abundantly clear. The rock must not be smitten a second time, for that would spoil the type. “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him. For in that He died, He died unto sin once; but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God” (Rom. 6:9, 10). “But now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself… So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:26, 28). Streams of spiritual refreshment flow to us on the ground of accomplished redemption and in connection with Christ’s priestly ministry.
  5. How solemn the sequel here. The servant of the Lord failed—there has been but one perfect “Servant” (Isa. 42:1). The meekest man upon earth became angry at the repeated murmurings of Israel. He addressed the covenant people of God as “Ye rebels.” He asked them. “Must we fetch you water out of the rock?” He “smote the rock twice”—indicating the heat of his temper. And because of this God suffered him not to lead Israel into Canaan. He is very jealous of the types—more than one man was slain because his conduct marred them.
  6. It is striking to note that though Moses smote the rock instead of speaking to it. nevertheless, the refreshing waters gushed forth from it. How this should warn us against the conclusion that a man’s methods must be right if the Lord is pleased to use him. Many there are who imagine that the methods used in service must be pleasing to God if His blessing attends them. But this incident shows plainly that it is not safe to argue thus. Moses’ methods were wrong; notwithstanding, God gave the blessing! But how this incident also manifests, once more, the wondrous grace of God. In spite of (not because of) Israel’s murmuring, and in spite of Moses’ failure, water was given to them, their every need was supplied. Truly, our God is the “God of all grace.” May the realization of this draw out our hearts in adoring worship, and may our lives rebound more and more unto His glory.



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