Friday, March 7, 2014

Jesus is a Rock

Hangershell rock
Jesus is a rock in a weary land
A weary land
A weary land
Jesus is a rock in a weary land
A shelter in the time of storm.

Jesus, you're my firm foundation
I know I can stand secure
Jesus, you're my firm foundation
I put my hope in your Holy Word
I put my hope in your Holy Word

Sometimes I have a hard time with imagery, but the picture of Jesus as a rock and a foundation has always been comforting to me.  No matter what life throws at me, no matter what changes, Jesus is there for me, a place to rest, and a firm foundation to build upon.  Peter also liked the image of a stone, and no wonder.  Peter means rock, and it is the name Jesus gave to him. In 1 Peter 2, he compares Jesus to a rock, but he makes it clear there is a third kind of stone Jesus can be depending on how we relate to him. 

For this is contained in Scripture: "Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in him will not be disappointed." This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, "The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone," and, "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense;" for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed (1 Peter 2:6-8)
Peter describes Jesus as either a cornerstone or a stumbling block; it all comes down to our relationship with him.  If we want Jesus to be a firm foundation, Peter says, then we have to believe in him.  As is typical in Scripture, belief is not simply intellectual assent.  To get a good idea of the kind of belief we need to have, we need to take a look at the Old Testament scriptures Peter references.

In the first quote, Isaiah 28, God is speaking to the kingdom of Judah, who would be taken into captivity in about 200 years. 

Because you have said, "We have made a covenant with death, And with Sheol we have made a pact. The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by, For we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception." Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed. "I will make justice the measuring line And righteousness the level; Then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies And the waters will overflow the secret place" (Isaiah 28: 15-17)
Judah felt confident of their survival, not because of the might of the Lord but because of their alliances with stronger nations.  They did not trust God, and not only did that lack of faith cause them to trust in other nations, it also led them to disobey his laws.  They were particularly prone to materialism and mistreatment of the downtrodden. In response, God tells them that their alliances will not stand and that justice and righteousness would be the new standard, based upon this cornerstone in Zion.  In other words, the kind of belief that God wanted his children to have is the kind that trusts God in the face of what looks like overwhelming odds.   It is the kind that causes the believer to live a life of justice and righteousness.  Only people with that kind of faith would be able to build their lives on the firm foundation that God would lay.

Peter also quotes Isaiah 8, another prophecy against Judah, but in this case, the stone is seen not as a foundation but as a sanctuary.  

"You are not to say, 'It is a conspiracy!' In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. "It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread."Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. "Many will stumble over them, Then they will fall and be broken; They will even be snared and caught." (Isaiah 8:12-15)
Notice that the belief is the same.  Those who fear the enemy more than God will rush to sin and stumble over the stone.  Those who fear and trust God will take refuge in him.  Peter echoed this when he said that those who stumble are those who are disobedient to the Word. Not only would they stumble, but they would be fall and be broken.

It's easy to see the application of these words under the New Covenant when we look at the big picture, saved versus unsaved.  Those who put their trust in Christ are able to take refuge in him, and Jesus becomes their firm foundation.  Those who reject Christ will stumble and be dashed to pieces, particularly in the final judgment.

On a smaller scale, though, I have seen this principle played out in my own life.  When I have trusted God's word and obeyed him despite my own fears, I have been able to count on the rock solid support of Jesus.  Recently, my family was able to give to a few families in need.  It stretched our budget more than usual, but we trusted that God would care for us. Jesus was the firm foundation on which to build my spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5).  He gave to me, and I grew spiritually when I gave to others. Not only that, but when I ran into a tough spot, I received a needed gift from a sister in Christ.  I took refuge in the promise that when I sow bountifully, I will also reap bountifully (2 Corinthians 9:6).

On the other hand, I have also stumbled lately.  A friend of mine is very sick right now.  I've prayed for her diligently, but in the back of my mind, I had my doubts.  I prayed for her health before she got sick, but it happened anyway.  I found myself fearing the sickness more than trusting God, and I was miserable. I felt that my prayers were dashed to pieces.  It wasn't until I talked to my husband and he reminded me of God's power and love that I overcame that particular stumbling block and was able to pray effectively again.

Jesus is a rock.  He'll either be a rock we can take refuge in and build upon, or he'll be a rock we can dash ourselves to pieces on.  The choice is ours, and the decision we make will be reflected in the kinds of lives we live.  Will we trust him and obey his word or become overwhelmed by the power of the world and walk into sin?


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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