THE SPIRITUAL ROCK IN THE WILDERNESS
Another scripture passage, which requires our attention, is I Corinthians 10:1-12. Here, due to the English rendering in most Bibles, it can appear to be saying that Jesus, himself, was "following" the Israelites at the time of the Exodus. If Jesus was there at that time, that would be proof positive that He was immortal before Yahweh raised him from the dead in 29 AD. This argument, however, does absolutely no good for those who maintain that Jesus is Yahweh for it says nothing about that. In the King James Version, however, it does seem to suggest that Jesus existed separately at the time of Moses. But, in the Greek, as usual, it reads differently.
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and the Rock was Christ.
We will deal only with the key verses. First, from the King James Version:
Now, corrected according to the Greek:Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud (heavenly guidance), and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual food; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritually-patterned rock mass: and the rock mass was Christ (i.e. it symbolized him).
As you can see, verse four is the critical one. The KJV arbitrarily capitalizes the word "Rock," indicating that it is a name or title for Jesus. However, the Greek makes no such distinction. The translators took it upon themselves to capitalize it. It is the Greek word "petra," which just happens to be in the feminine case and means a rock mass, or a cliff, or monolithic mountain of some sort, and refers to the stone monolith at Meribah – not to anyone in particular.
Secondly, in the KJV, the phrase, "…that followed them:" comes from the Greek word, "akoluthuo," which means "to conform," "imitate" or "to pattern after," and is usually translated "follow" or "following," and turning it into the phrase, "that followed them," is taking great license with God’s Word. But that is what the translators did. They took "…that spiritually following rock," and turned it into, "…that spiritual Rock that followed them." This turn of the phrase made it very hard to understand the meaning of this scripture.
The word "following" is the same word that Jesus used when He said to "take up your cross and follow him." Now, He did not mean to follow around after him through all the villages dragging a literal cross behind you. He obviously meant to pattern your life after his, and imitate his ways.
Thus, we see that Jesus was not "following" (imitating) Israel, for how could anyone suggest that Jesus would have wanted to pattern his life after Israel’s example? Jesus didn’t emulate Israel. Rather, Israel was supposed to emulate Christ. Israelites became disciples of Jesus – not the other way around.
Now, if you prefer to ignore the correct definition of the word, and insist that it only means to "walk behind," then please explain who was leading whom in the wilderness. Did Israel lead, or was she being led? Anyway, use your own lexicon or Greek dictionary and you can define this word correctly for yourself.
The "stone monolith" at Meribah was not literally following around after Israel, as if it were something alive. This was not a walking mountain, nor was it a "pre-existent" Jesus, as the fundamentalists have asserted. Rather, Paul is referring to the "cliff," or "rock" at Meribah which Moses struck with a rod causing fresh water to gush out of the "rock mass" for the thirsty Israelites to drink (Exodus 17: 1-7).
The "rock mass" was a spiritual pre-pattern of Jesus. The "rock mass" was struck with a rod for the sake of Israel, so also did Jesus suffer "stripes" for our sakes (I Peter 2:24). Life-giving waters flowed from out of the "rock mass" at Meribah, so also did Jesus give us the "waters of life," (John 4:10; 7:37-39.