. Click here to return to Homepage.

 

Thought for the Month

of December 1996

Next up-date: 1 January 1997 (God willing).

 


Query:

What is meant when it is written,

"To you therefore which believe He is precious: but to them which are disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed [or rejected], the same is made the Head of the corner [the Cornerstone], and a Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient". 1 Peter 2:7-8.

Response:

The Saviour spoke to the Jews one day and said, "Did you never read in the Scriptures, 'The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? [Psalm 118:22-23]. Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whoever shall fall on this Stone shall be broken: but on whomever it shall fall, It will grind him to powder." Matthew 21:42.

This prophecy the Jews had often repeated in the synagogues, applying it to the coming Messiah. Jesus Christ was the Cornerstone of the Jewish way of life and of the whole plan of salvation, and this foundation stone the Jewish builders, the priests and rulers of Israel, were now rejecting. Therefore the Saviour called their attention to the prophecies that would show them their danger. By every means in His power He sought to make plain to them the nature of the deed they were about to do.

In quoting the prophecy of the rejected stone, Christ referred to an actual occurrence in the history of Israel. The incident was connected with the building of the first temple. While it had a special application at the time of Christ's first advent, and should have appealed with special force to the Jews, it has also a lesson for us. Consider Revelation 2:5.

When the temple of Solomon was erected, the immense stones for the walls and the foundation were entirely prepared at the quarry. 1 Kings 6:7. After they were brought to the place of building, not an instrument was to be used upon them and the workmen had only to place them in position. 1 Kings 5:17-18. For use in the foundation, one stone of unusual size and peculiar shape had been brought, but the workmen could find no place for it, and would not accept it. It was an annoyance to them as it lay unused in their way. Long it remained a rejected stone.

But when the builders came to the laying of the corner, they searched for a long time to find a stone of sufficient size and strength, and of the proper shape, to take that particular place, and bear the great weight which would rest upon it. Should they make an unwise choice for this important place, the safety of the entire building would be endangered. They must find a stone capable of resisting the influence of the sun, of frost, and of tempest. Several stones had at different times been chosen, but under the pressure of immense weights they had crumbled to pieces. Others could not bear the test of the sudden atmospheric changes.

But at last attention was called to the stone so long rejected. It had been exposed to the air, to sun and storm, without revealing the slightest crack. The builders examined this stone. It had borne every test but one. If it could bear the test of severe pressure, they decided to accept it for the cornerstone. The trial was made. The stone was accepted, brought to its assigned position, and found to be an exact fit.

In prophetic vision, Isaiah was shown that this stone was a symbol of Christ.

He says: "Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. And He shall be for [you] a Sanctuary; but for a Stone of stumbling and for a Rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin [trap] and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken." Isaiah 8:13-15.

Carried down in prophetic vision to the first advent, the prophet was shown that Christ was to bear trials and tests of which the treatment of the chief cornerstone in the temple of Solomon was symbolic. "Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a Foundation a Stone, a tried Stone, a precious Cornerstone, a sure Foundation: he that believes shall not make haste." Isaiah 28:16.

In infinite wisdom, God chose the Foundation Stone, and laid it Himself. He called it "a sure foundation." The entire world may lay upon it their burdens and griefs; it can endure them all. With perfect safety they may build upon it, for Christ is a "tried stone." Those who trust in Him, He never disappoints. He has borne every test. He has endured the pressure of Adam's guilt, and the guilt of his descendants, and has come off more than conqueror of the powers of evil. He has borne the burdens cast upon Him by every repenting sinner. In Christ the guilty heart has found relief. He is the sure foundation. All who make Him their dependence rest in perfect security. He says, "Come to Me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest". Do you have that rest?

 Conclusion:

In Isaiah's prophecy, Christ is declared to be both a sure foundation AND a stone of stumbling. The apostle Peter, writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, clearly shows to whom Christ is a Foundation Stone, and to whom a Rock of offense.

To those who believe, Christ is the sure Foundation. These are they who fall upon the Rock and are broken in their pride. Submission to Christ and faith in Him are here represented. To fall upon the Rock and be broken is to give up our self-righteousness and to go to Christ with the humility of a child, repenting of our transgressions, and believing in His forgiving love to receive a new heart. And so also it is by the same faith and with obedience that we build on Christ as our Foundation.

Upon this Living Stone, Jew and Gentile alike may build.

This is the only foundation upon which we may securely build. It is broad enough for all, and strong enough to sustain the weight and burden of the whole world. And by connection with Christ, the Living Stone, all who build upon this Foundation also become "living stones". Many persons are by their own endeavors hewn, polished, and beautified, but they cannot become "living stones," because they are not connected with Christ. Without this connection, no man, woman, or child can be saved. Without the life of Christ in us, we cannot withstand the storms of temptation. After that our eternal safety depends upon our building upon the sure Foundation. Multitudes are today building upon foundations that have not been tested. When the rain falls, and the tempest rages, and the floods come, their houses will fall, because they are not founded upon the eternal Rock, the chief cornerstone Christ Jesus. Matthew 7:24-29.

This means that the fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a "form of godliness without the power", for the Christian's life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of the nature. There is a death to sin and self, and a new life altogether. See 2 Timothy 3:5. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.

"To them which stumble at the word, being disobedient," Christ is a Rock of offense. Like the rejected stone, Christ in His earthly mission had borne neglect and abuse. He was "despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: . . . He was despised, and we esteemed Him not."Isaiah 53:3. But the time was near when He would be glorified. By the resurrection from the dead He was declared "the Son of God with power." Romans 1:4.

At His second coming He will be revealed as Lord of heaven and earth. Before the universe the rejected Stone will become the Head of the corner. And on "whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." The people who rejected Christ were soon to see their city and their nation destroyed. Their glory would be broken, and scattered as the dust before the wind. And what was it that destroyed the Jews? It was the Rock which, had they built upon it, would have been their security. Deuteronomy 32:2-4; 15-16.

It was the goodness of God despised, the righteousness spurned, the mercy slighted. Men and women set themselves in opposition to God, and all that would have been their salvation was turned to their destruction. Matthew 27:25. All that God ordained to life they turned into death. In the Jews' crucifixion of Christ was involved the destruction of Jerusalem. The blood shed upon Calvary was the weight that sank them to ruin for this world and for the world to come.

So it will be in the great final day, when judgment shall fall upon the rejecters of God's grace. Christ, their Rock of offense, will then appear to them as an avenging mountain. See Revelation 6:15-17. The glory of His countenance, which to the righteous is life, will be to the wicked a consuming fire. Because of love rejected, grace despised, the sinner will be self-destroyed.

 


Spiritual Dictionary.

STONE OF STUMBLING:

1. To a religious person the standard set by the man Christ Jesus can appear to be irreligious. Matthew 15:1-9.

2. Jesus is a Living Stone and His followers by being attached to Him also become "living stones". 1 Peter 2:5.

3. It is often the rejected stone that becomes the head stone. John 19:15.


Next thought. To be discussed from 1 January 1997.

Click here to return to Homepage.