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Consider The Rock

INTRODUCTION: I have enjoyed the metaphor of the rock for a number of years each time I have come upon it, so I decided to take a more in depth look through Scripture. My initial preparation of this study began for a pre-worship presentation on the first Sunday of 2000, and I continued from that point. In the past six weeks or so, when I have not been actively working at my computer on the topic, I have often taken pause for thought about various passages throughout the day. Even a basic form of God's creation can speak of his nature, so as often as that form is before us, we can consider the represented qualities. All of God's creation speaks of him, but for our meditation this time, we will consider the rock.

rock n. 1 A relatively hard naturally formed mass of mineral or petrified matter; stone. 2. A. A relatively small piece or fragment of rock. B. A relatively large body of such material, as a cliff or peak. 3 Geol. A naturally formed mineral mass or aggregate that constitutes a significant part of the earth's crust. 4 Someone or something that is very firm, stable, or dependable. ME ONFr. roque. - American Heritage dictionary

06697 rwu tsuwr tsoor or ru tsur tsoor [Hebrew]
from 06696; TWOT-1901a; n m
AV-rock 64, strength 5, sharp 2, God 2, beauty 1, edge 1, stones 1, mighty One 1, strong 1; 78
1) rock, cliff; 1a) rocky wall, cliff; 1b) rock (with flat surface); 1c) block of stone, boulder; 1d) rock (specific); 1e) rock (of God); 1f) rock (of heathen gods) n pr dei; 1g) Rock.

The Hebrew word described above is not the only word used in the scriptural references for this study, but the definition, and KJV translation word choices, for that Hebrew word, provide a satisfactory array of meanings representative of our consideration and meditation. Though we could start earlier in the Scripture for our focus word, the understanding of each metaphor becomes clearer from God's revelation of himself, in relationship to his chosen nation and those chosen for his church. Therefore we begin with the called out nation which was solidified as a people through the Law, the schoolmaster which leads us to belief in Christ.

A - Moses speaks of the Rock

The passage from chapter 31 explains the context for the excerpt from chapter 32. The majority of chapter 32 contains the song which is provided first for Israel, then for all who believe, that we might guard against our own nature and resist the inclination to rebel against our God. The opening verse and closing verse of the chapter 32 passage contain our focus word. The entire chapter is very profitable, but does not remain restricted to the key word of this study.

Deuteronomy 31:29 For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt [yourselves], and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands. 30 And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended.

Deuteronomy 32:15 But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. 16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. 17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. 18 Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.

B - There is no rock like our God

Hannah is one of the specially blessed women of scripture who was chosen and prepared by God for a key role in the development of the nation Israel. Her story inspires present day believing men and women because she went to the source of answers, believed what was revealed to her, then followed through on the commitment she made. Her words below indicate that she gave all the glory to God, as she praised him for what he had accomplished in her behalf. We might well expect that she had heard the song of Moses (composed generations earlier), as she echoes the metaphor of the rock, and emphasized that this rock is unique and incomparable.

1 Samuel 2:1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. 2 There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.

C - The Lord is my rock

David saw, not his own skill and cunning, or chance happenings, which preserved his life; but he knew with certainty that God's reliability is unchangeable, and that his ability is limitless. The historical record is presented in 2Samuel 22, and the praise of David is also contained with very close wording in Psalm 18. Selected verses below include the target word.

2 Samuel 22:1 And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: 2 and he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. 4 I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

Psalms 18:1 {To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul: And he said,} I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. 3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

2 Samuel 22:32 For who is God, save the LORD? And who is a rock, save our God?
Psalms 18:31 For who is God save the LORD? Or who is a rock save our God?
2 Samuel 22:47 The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.
Psalms 18:46 The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.

D - Christ is our rock

The Hebrew of Hebrews, the apostle Paul, tells us in his letter to the Corinthians that Christ is our rock, as he was the rock for Israel in the Old Testament.

1Corinthians 10:1 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; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

E - The Rock that Speaks and Hears

The following verses further demonstrate that using the term rock certainly does not make the communication with God, or praise to him, without a lively passion: because he is the rock that lives!

2 Samuel 23:1 now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, 2 The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. 3 The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.

Psalms 28:1 {A Psalm of David.} Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.

Psalms 42:9 I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? 11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Psalms 62:1 {To the chief Musician, to Jeduthun, A Psalm of David.} Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. 2 He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.

F - Our Compassionate Solid Rock

Here are some thoughts of God's compassion regarding our weakness, from the absolute firmness of an immutable God, in the following verses. The unchanging personal God whom we worship and serve knows us to the smallest detail, and his love for his redeemed ones is as unchangeable as his holiness.

Psalms 78:35 And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer. 36 Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. 37 For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant. 38 But he, [being] full of compassion, forgave [their] iniquity, and destroyed [them] not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. 39 For he remembered that they [were but] flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

Psalms 92:12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; 15 To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Psalms 94:17 Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. 18 When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up. 19 In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul. 20 Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law? 21 They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood. 22 But the LORD is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge. 23 And he shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the LORD our God shall cut them off.

Psalms 95:1 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. 3 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. 5 The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. 6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

G - Build only on the rock

We, who are part of his redeemed church, are called not only to worship and praise, but also to daily living, which is consistent with, and guided by, his word. Our obedience as believers is neither optional in our conduct, nor enforced upon us against our will, but rather it is the evidence of a saving faith. In the two parallel passages that follow, Jesus tells us that by hearing, then putting the word into practice, we will build on the solid rock foundation that will enable us to withstand the storms of life. And we will not simply survive in a battered condition, but well beyond that, we will bear fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within.

Matthew 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.

H - The Stone The Builders Rejected

Perhaps the most meaningful picture of Christ as the rock is presented in the Old and New Testament passages describing the stone which was rejected by Israel (those who were to be builders of God's kingdom), and in so doing they rejected the very cornerstone of the living building which is Christ's church. That rejection by Israel, and by all who continue to reject him, result in him becoming for them a stumbling stone, and an offense. But for all that accept who he is, his placement as the cornerstone of a living building is truly marvelous in our eyes.

Psalms 118:22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. 23 This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvelous {surpassing, extraordinary, beyond our power, beyond our understanding} in our eyes. 24 This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Isaiah 8:13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.

Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. -KJV.

Isaiah 28:16 For this cause says the Lord God, See, I am placing in Zion as a base, a stone, a tested stone, an angle-stone which is certain and of great value: and he who has faith will not give way. -BBE.

I - Servants were sent first, but then came the Son

Jesus described the preparation performed by Old Testament prophets who spoke and wrote the word of God. They were sent ahead of god's son, and when the son came to confirm the message, he also was sorely mistreated. The story of the vineyard draws attention to the full meaning of the stone which the builders rejected. In Luke we find that there were apparently some in the crowd who reacted with shock as they said, "God forbid". But Jesus then quoted Psalm 118, concluding that the kingdom would be taken from the Jews, and given to others. The reaction of the elders and rulers of the Jews, was a desire to destroy him.

Matthew 21:36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye 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 marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.

Mark 12:5 And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. 6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. 7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. 8 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. 9 What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. 10 And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: 11 This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 12 And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.

Luke 20:12 And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. 13 Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. 14 But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. 5 So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? 16 He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid. 17 And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? 18 Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 19 And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.

J - The rock has become the cornerstone

In Acts, Peter speaks by the Holy Spirit to remind the leaders that Jesus is the stone the builders rejected, and yet there is no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved. Paul further verifies how the stumbling stone was loss to those seeking to be justified by keeping the law, and the cornerstone was gain to those who would seek justification by faith. The writings of the apostles provide additional substance to the principal of the cornerstone.

Paul develops this thought process further in Ephesians, as he shows that Christians become part of Christ in this spiritual building. Peter agrees with Paul as he writes in 1 Peter, and he draws our attention again to the importance of our actions based on God's word, since we are part of his spiritual house.

Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Romans 9:30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

1 Peter 2:4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

K - The stone will fill the whole earth

To bring our considerations of God our rock to a close, we return to the Old Testament to find hope for all who live in Christ. We may well identify with Daniel, as he was prosperous in a land which was not his home, among a people who did not revere his God. The United States provides prosperity for many, but neither the United States nor any other nation around the globe, can truly be the land of citizenship for the Christian. Because of adoption, our citizenship is in heaven, and our hope is in our God. The stone described by Daniel was cut out of the mountain, without hands, and it destroyed the image of man's rebellion against God. After that, it filled the whole earth, and therefore the verses from Psalm 72 appropriately close our verse selection, because all who are part of the kingdom of God are filling the whole earth, and even more greatly will this filling be manifested at his second coming.

Daniel 2:35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

Daniel 2:45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.

Psalm 72:18 Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. 19 And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.

--- Reflections in prayer ---

My precious, solid rock, I tremble at the thought of how I have often reveled in the "Jeshurun fat" of my blessings, and quickly forsook, and lightly esteemed you, my very salvation. I have put you out of my mind, though you gave me the new birth, and I have forgotten that you are the one who formed me from the dust of the earth. Thank you for the scriptural record of saints like Hannah and David, who preceded me in their walk with you. I agree with them, as I praise you for all victories in my life, which you bring to pass. There is truly none to compare with you. You O LORD are my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my Savior: and in calling upon you, I shall be saved from my enemies. For who is God, except the LORD, and who is a rock, except our God? Your spirit speaks from within, to remind me to Hope in God: for I shall return to praising you, despite the low periods of my own spirit when praise has departed from my words and thoughts. You only are my rock and my salvation; you are my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.

Your love is amazing, as My heart has not been right with you, neither have I remained steadfast in your covenant. But you, being full of compassion, forgave my iniquity, and did not destroy me: yes, many a time you turned your anger away, and did not bring me to final judgement. For you remembered that I am but flesh; a wind that passes away, and comes not again. Except for your help, my soul would have dwelt in the silence of separation from God, but by crying out ever so feebly as to say, my foot is slipping, your mercy in Christ's sacrifice, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me your comforts delight my soul. Because my righteousness is in Christ, you have promised that my spirit shall flourish even in the desert of this world: and shall grow like a firm and valuable tree. Planted in the household of your kingdom, I shall flourish in the courts of my God, to show that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. These truths cause me to make joyful praise unto the LORD: unto the rock of my salvation, for the LORD is a great God and a great King above all gods. Your hand has formed the highest mountain, and all the treasures deep within the earth. You made the great seas with all they contain, and great landmasses of the earth with all upon it; and everything of your creation is yours. I bow before you in worship for all your mighty works.

Lord grant me the joy of bearing the fruits which result from hearing your word, and then putting it into practice in my life continually, for I should not call you Lord unless I do your word. I desire to have you as my solid rock foundation, which will withstand flood and storm. Thank you for laying that tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation in Zion: establishing the believer so he shall not be moved. Your rejection by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem implemented your plan of fulfilling the law in our behalf, establishing your work alone as the foundation of our salvation. This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvelous, surpassing, extraordinary, beyond our power, beyond our understanding, in our eyes. Therefore it is truth to say, this is the day, which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. And our joy is not for Israel's loss, but rather for gain to all that trust solely in the salvation of the Lord. But for your grace, our Lord, we would be just as much in error as Israel, by also seeking righteousness through trying to keep the law.

Thank you for using Jews such as Peter and Paul to further explain how we benefited from your marvelous work, and now are being placed as living stones into a house for your glory. There is salvation in you alone: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Help me Lord, to remember that I am together with others in Christ, through your name, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a treasured possession; that should show forth the praises of our Savior. You have called us out of darkness into your marvelous light: previously not a people, but now the people of god: obtaining your mercy which was not formerly ours. Remind me Lord, to conduct myself as a stranger and a pilgrim in this physical world, abstaining from fleshly lusts, which war against my soul; having my conduct honest among the unbelievers: that, whereas they speak against me for my stand, their verbal attacks will actually become a sounding of praise to glorify Christ Jesus in the day of his appearing.

Your Holy Spirit within believers all around the world is a shadow of the time yet to come when the rock will forcefully fill the whole earth. Because you are holy and trustworthy, I pray for that time to be brought to fulfillment. Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel and of the church, who only does wondrous things! And blessed be his glorious name forever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen, and amen.

Published 29 May 2004, first issued 10 February 2000