He spoke about Moses striking the rock for the children of Israel. He seemed somewhat surprised. Why would God not let Moses into the Promised Land because of hitting a rock? It just seems a bit unfair. I could understand how such a question could arise and I spoke to him (Whose identity is kept secret) afterwards to give a quick thought on it, but it was only a quick one and I have had more time to ponder it.
My first thought immediately was of what Paul says about that rock in 1 Cor. 10. Paul says that they all drank from the rock and that rock was Christ. In other words then, what Moses did was to strike Christ, the very Messiah of Israel. Once we understand that, we can begin to understand the gravity of the act.
Now someone might say, “Ah. But this is a metaphor! How can we blame Moses for not understanding a metaphor?” Indeed, Moses might not have understood it. However, there is one thing he would have definitely understood. He would have understood the command to speak to the rock. The words are clear and they are clearly disobeyed.
What we must realize is that God is revealing himself and he takes that very seriously, even though it is in metaphor. While the metaphor is not the same as the message that it conveys or an object is not the same as that which it represents, it is still to be taken in a serious manner be it a holy or unholy metaphor.
So when we see Noah being told that because of the rainbow, he can be sure that God will never flood the world again, we must also realize that while the rainbow is not the same as the promise, we dare not disrespect the rainbow and doubt God whenever we do see that reminder.
Do we not see the same with other metaphors in the Bible? Indeed. We see that the ark of the covenant is to be the representation of God in the Israelite camp. When Uzzah touches the ark, he is struck dead immediately. When the ark is placed in the temple of Dagon, the idol of Dagon falls before it every morning. This is the metaphor, and it must be treated seriously.
Idols are a metaphor as well. The idol was a representation of a pagan god. Not even the representations were to be treated seriously by the Israelites due to their constant facing of polytheism and their constant giving into it. Of course, Paul knew what we knew and no doubt many others knew. Those idols are not anything at all. There is only one God so there is no other god to represent.
Many of the practices we cannot understand today in the OT are these same practices to remind people of God’s holiness. Why not wear clothing of mixed fabrics for instance? Why? Because God is totally pure so all in the Israelite camp was to be totally pure. Mixed fabrics are not pure.
This shows up in the NT also. Jesus tells us to eat and drink and do so in remembrance of him. Paul tells us though that some have taken of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner and as a result, some have died. The supper was not to be disgraced as it is a representation of God.
The further we take this though, we see that we should have known this all along. All of creation is a metaphor of him on some level. All of it reveals him. It is not in propositions though so it must be understood analogically, which is ironically, the only way Aquinas and others have said that we can speak of God.
All things must be treated as they are then. If we treat sex as less than it is, we have disgraced a metaphor for the Trinity and the love of God. If we do no treat humanity well, we have treated badly the image of God. We are told to live lives where the truth speaks well of us. Would that we spoke well of it as well.
Perchance this is the answer to environmentalism as well? Please understand that I am not what would be considered an environmentalists. I do not believe in global warming and I do not believe in a lot of environmental nonsense that I see today. However, I believe the Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.
Maybe if I and the rest of us recognized that, we would treat it the way it deserves. We do not treat it as the modern pantheists and new agers do and see it as God or my mother. However, we must treat it as a creation of God and realize that he made it the way that he made it for a reason and we should do what we can to maintain that design.
The same should be done of everything for though something is a metaphor, there is always a literal truth behind it. We do not discount the parables of Christ because they are parables. We recognize the literal truth behind them and woe to us if we memorize a parable and study the form and the syntax, but never look at the literal truth of it. We might as well study Shakespeare by counting how many letters Hamlet has.
Thus, the bottom line becomes that truth is to be taken seriously. In the end, isn’t this what we are to do? Are we not the followers of the one who claimed that he is the truth? Are we not to test everything and hold to what is good? (True) Are we not to be walking in the truth?
No. The metaphor is serious indeed. We dare not strike the rock for that rock is Christ. We dare not miss the truth, for he is the truth.