Well into the letter, Paul approached the serious matter of communion, the attitude and order of its observance. To get a good running start, he traced examples laid down in the history of the Israelites under the guidance of Moses. All of the children of Israel had experienced God’s provision. God had fed them heavenly food and had given them drink by His power and mercy. Paul stated, “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” ( 1 Corinthians 10:4b) Paul went ahead and named the One that Moses and David knew as the Rock. After great deliverance, David had acknowledged Him as his fortress who was “Higher than I.” He exclaimed, “The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! ” (Psalms 61:46)
Also, it was a time of deliverance for Israel at the edge of the wilderness when their thirst would have soon brought death without water. God told Moses to speak to the rock and life-giving water would flow. Instead, Moses struck the rock, claiming credit for himself for God’s work of grace. He did not sanctify the Lord before the whole congregation and therefore could not bring the assembly into the land God promised them. (Numbers 20:12)
Likewise the Corinthians of Paul’s day, and we also generations later, must approach what God has established with reverence and obedience, examining our hearts, spiritually coming into His presence in a worthy manner.
Both the deliverance in the wilderness and the symbols of Christ’s broken body and shed blood are pictures of redemption - life from death. Communion pictures both Christ’s atoning sacrifice and His coming again, proclaiming “the Lord’s death till He comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)
In WordSing, George comments in verse on Psalm 61:
“Unto the Rock steadfast and sure,
O Lord, lead me! I’m insecure!
The Rock is Christ, always the same,
Reward of those who fear His Name.”