A Stone Rejected

Scripture: Matthew 21:42, Isaiah 28:16
Date: 09/07/2002 
This sermon discusses the usage of the illustration of a rock to represent Jesus Christ and the Word of God.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Good morning, friends. I’d like to wish everybody a happy Sabbath, a special greeting to our visitors. We’re looking forward to a disproportionate number of visitors next week and we’re praying that the TV ads and the invitations will help to encourage that and we want to make them all feel welcome. You know everywhere I travel we run into people who say that they see the programs on TV and many of them don’t know that we’re right here in town and so we want to give them an opportunity to come get acquainted with the family.

Our message this morning is “A Stone Rejected” and I’d like to begin by telling you an interesting story. Who knows what year the Gold Rush was here in Sacramento? You should know that, right? 1848-1849 people typically say. Well, that’s the California Gold Rush. But the first Gold Rush in North America was actually in 1799. Many people do not know that there is virtually no gold that was known of on the continent by the settlers until a boy, and his name was Conrad Reed, about 12 years old, he was playing hooky from church one Sunday and so he went fishing on Mill Creek on his dad’s farm and he found a great big rock, an interesting looking rock, in the river. He took it home. It was unusually heavy and so they thought this would be very useful to keep the door propped open.

That 17-pound doorstop was one of the biggest gold nuggets that’s ever been found. They left it there three years moving it every day to hold the door open in the summer anyway. And a merchant came by to visit, noticed the rock, recognized what it was. He was a jeweler. He offered to buy it from them. They said, “What would you want with that old rock?” He said, “Well, just sell it to me. Why, I’ll give you three dollars for it.” And they sold it to this merchant for three dollars, thousands of times less what it was actually worth. It was a stone rejected. They didn’t understand its value. They tripped over it every day going in and out of their home never realizing it was a priceless treasure. It launched the first gold rush in North America and it gave our fledgling country the gold it needed to mint our own coinage. They had no idea that rock they found in the stream what its value was tripping over it as they walked by the door every day. You know the Bible tells a story about this cornerstone that continued to be rejected. Jesus speaks about a stone of stumbling. Matthew 21:42, “Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it’s marvelous in our eyes”?’” And He may have been referring to Isaiah 28:16, “Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, (a tested stone) a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes (in Him) will not act hastily.’” Romans, Paul quotes, “As it is written, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone, and a rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’”

Now all of these references that we’re looking at dealing with this stone of stumbling come from a true story but you do not find the actual story in the Bible but it was part of the Jewish culture. And for whatever reason God saw that it was not necessary that it be incorporated into Holy Writ but it is part of Jewish history that is often referred to. You need to know. Another example of that, we have heard the story of how the Euphrates River dried up and Sirius marched under the walls and prophesies about that are often mentioned but the actual event of drying up the river is not in the Bible but it’s very clear in history. The story is that when Solomon was building the temple that all of the stones were very carefully measured and precut at the quarry many miles away. And they would then bring them and silently assemble them at the temple grounds. Now this is in the Bible that they cut the stones, they brought them and it says that they could not even hear the sound of a hammer in the courtyard while they were building. Can you imagine a quiet construction site? When we did our meetings in New York City across the street they were preparing a foundation there on 34th St. for another skyscraper and all day long we would hear them blasting with dynamite. And they had these chain link fences that they used that they laid up against the rocks and they would blast and it would catch the big rocks as they would fly out. They had these mats that would try and catch the explosions.

Very loud while you’re trying to edit and produce and all this you hear the explosions across the street. Construction is noisy business. And here they’re building the most beautiful monument that they’ve got, this house of God in the country. All you can hear is the quiet low grinding of the stones as they move them into position and the workers muffling directions. Well, they sent this very important stone from the quarry. The people who delivered the stone dropped it right in the middle of the work area figuring that the workers would read the blueprint and know what it was and where it was to go. But maybe they didn’t put the markings on the stone or maybe they assumed too much. The stone was not perfectly square because part of it would be resting against the solid rock on Mount Zion, Mount Moriah. So it had an uneven surface on one side. It was a very large and kind of strange looking stone and as the workers began to prepare and begin to do the foundation area. Some of it may be still there today when you look at the Mosque of Omar in the Temple area. Those are very ancient stones. The Wailing Wall. Some of those lower stones in the Wailing Wall where you see the Jews pray not only date back to the days of Herod the Great, some of them they believe date all the way back to Solomon’s original temple. Foundation part. The temple itself not one stone was left upon another. Jesus said that would be the case, but some of the foundation stones were still there in the wall.

So as they are preparing they’re trying to assemble things and as they near this corner that’s going to bear the brunt of the weight of the whole edifice they could not find a stone. And they’d try one and it wouldn’t fit. They’d try another and they’d start to build on it, it would crumble. They’d put another one in the place, they notice cracks begin to appear as it was exposed to the sun and the elements. This went on for some time. In the meantime they continued to bump into and bruise themselves and stumble over and trip at this obscure stone that was right in the middle of the work area being a terrible annoyance. Matter of fact, one version of the story I’ve read says that they got so tired of it that they pushed it off the work area and it tumbled off down into the Kidron Valley. You’d think at this point they would have e-mailed or called somebody at the quarry and said, “Where is the cornerstone?” But they didn’t have that ability back then and finally they did get a message to the quarry masters and the engineers and said, “Where is the cornerstone?”

They said, “It’s right in the middle of the work area! One of the first ones we delivered.” They said, “That was the stone? That hated stone that we threw into the Kidron Valley?” And lo and behold they brought it up, it was a perfect fit, it passed all the tests and the Temple was built on that location. Now that you know that story as you read these other references in the Bible about “a stone of stumbling” and “the chief cornerstone” you understand what it’s dealing with. Jesus chose that and the prophets chose that as a symbol of Christ who is the chief foundational stone for the church. You and I are living stones built up on Christ who is the chief cornerstone. Well, you would be surprised how often in the Bible God is compared to a Rock. Now I’m going to talk about rocks and stones today. That may not be exciting for you. It’s exciting for me. I hope I can excite you. If I was going to talk about pets some of you would get excited. Some of you might get more excited about plants and vegetation. At least they’re alive. But we think about stones and rocks. Most of us think of them as cold and hard and doesn’t sound like a good substance for a message, but the Bible speaks quite a bit about stones and their characteristics in the context of teaching us about God.

Let’s see what we can learn. First of all, if you look in Genesis 49:24, in his dying message, prophetic utterance to his sons, Jacob says, “But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob (From thence is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel)…” Now this is a Messianic prophecy. Who is the Shepherd of Israel? That’s Jesus. And what else does it call him? The stone. You can also read in Deuteronomy 32 the dying message of Moses. And several times during the message, you can read before and after verse 31, but he says, speaking of the pagans, “Their rock is not like our Rock.” Capital R-o-c-k. What is the word Rock there referring to? It’s referring to the Lord, to God. I Samuel 2:2, in our morning worship this morning, thanks, Dear, I added this to my notes. We were talking about Hannah and I noticed that even in Hannah’s prayer after God gave her a son she said, “No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.” And you’ll find this is consistent through the scriptures that the Hebrews identified their God with a rock. Now have you ever heard someone say, speaking of another individual, “That fellow, he’s a rock.” I understand there is some wrestling champion now that they call The Rock. Is that right? You’re not supposed to know. I was just checking. That was a test. But that’s supposed to be a term for somebody… “He’s a rock.” That means he’s solid, he’s dependable, you can count on him, he’s consistent.

Well, the Bible uses this term to speak about Jesus. He is our Rock, the Rock of our Salvation. Now why is that? A number of reasons. Well, first maybe I should give you a little explanation before I go any farther. I have a tremendous respect for this perspective of Jesus. Now I suppose if I was ever a shepherd I would really enjoy the view of Christ as the sheep, the Lamb of God or the Chief Shepherd. I suppose if I was ever a farmer I would appreciate more those parables about sowing and harvesting. But I can’t relate as well to that, but I tell you when I read in the Bible about Jesus and God as a Rock or a stone, I identify. I lived for a year and a half up in these desert mountains that were virtually rock. Rocks everywhere. Rocks were how I found my way home. They were the waymarks. And I remember after leaving years later I came back and there had been an earthquake in my absence and there had been a fire that raged through those mountains and there had been several floods and a lot of the sand and contour and bushes and trees changed, but I had no problem finding my way home. You know why? Because the rocks were the same. And every rock has different characteristics unless they’re some of these faux rocks they’re making now. You know when you build you can go to Home Depot and if you want to have a rock driveway or landscape with rocks they pour concrete into these forms and all the rocks look exactly alike. They’re faux rocks, imitation rocks. Some of them are even plastic.

Have you seen these? You get a façade, it looks like rock. It’s not. It’s plastic. You hate to depend on that, right? But I came to really respect rocks. That may seem strange to you but I see it in the Bible. They were living in the deserts as well. Now there are some reasons for that. Rocks are dependable. They provide standing. They make a good foundation. The Bible says in Psalm 40 verse 2, “He also brought me up out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and he set his feet upon a rock, and established my steps.” You’ve got this mental picture of somebody who is slipping and sliding and trying to climb out of a swamp and they can’t get any footing and they’re getting sucked down and finally they feel a rock underneath. You ever tried to climb out of a river that was running and you couldn’t get your footing. You’re falling over and finally your feet are on a rock. Feels good, doesn’t it? Something substantial. It gives you a good standing. It makes a good foundation. This is why Jesus said in that familiar parable, now I’m not reading the one in Matthew. I’m going to Luke. You’ll know why. “Whoever comes to me and hears my sayings and does them I’ll show you who he is like. He is like a man building a house who dug deep. He gets down to the foundation.” He gets down to the bedrock. “And he laid the foundation on the rock and when the flood came and the stream beat vehemently against that house and it could not shake it for it was founded on the rock. But he who hears these words of mine and does nothing he is like a man who builds his house on the sand of the earth without a foundation against which the stream beat vehemently and immediately it fell and the ruin of that house was great.”

Why? It didn’t have a good understanding. It was not founded on the rock. And so Jesus is compared to a rock and His Word. It’s something you can count on. It’s dependable, which leads me to my next point. The Word of God is compared to an anchor. You know I heard a little history news article about this barge that lost power going up the Mississippi River and it was heading right for one of these river gambling boats that was full of people that were eating and drinking and gambling. But they were still human beings. You’re probably wondering why did he have to qualify that? The boat was going to demolish this ship that was docked there serving all these people. Big tanker, hundreds of billions of tons, I don’t know what they weigh, but you can’t stop them on a dime. And it lost power and you know what the captain did to keep from causing this tremendous damage and loss of life? He dropped both anchors. And that was the only way to get this thing to slow down. It still did mess up the dock and damage the hotel, but no loss of life because they dropped the anchor. Anchors hold you fast. And the Bible tells us that Jesus is like an anchor. You know I used to help my brother with his summer camp down in Key Largo. And we would take the kids out diving on a state park, but this state park is not in the forest it’s in the ocean. It’s called the John Pennycamp Reef. It’s a coral reef. And you know back in the days of the exploration of North America a lot of explorers and sailors died on the reefs of the Florida Keys and so a sculptor decided to make a statue of Jesus. And I don’t know I’m guessing the statue is probably 8, 12 feet tall. It’s pretty big. And they set it down in thirty feet of water. And there’s this big, beautiful statue of Jesus with His arms outstretched. And I’ve been there many times and dove around the statue snorkeling. Some scuba divers go to this statue. This is under water. And they get married.

I don’t know how they say their vows with their regulators on, but they get married in front of the statue of Jesus underwater. You know people do weird things. They get married skydiving these days. But the state rangers have to constantly tell the boats, “Don’t tie off to Jesus.” People are real tempted to go down. They’ll dive in and they want to go explore the reef and it’s very convenient to tie onto one of Jesus’ hands and use Him as an anchor. You can understand that. And it sounds really good. “Jesus is my anchor.” You know the Bible tells us that He is our Anchor, but you’re not supposed to do that at the State Park. You can read about that in the book of Hebrews chapter 6 verse 19. It tells us, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure (dependable) steadfast… even Jesus…” Who is the anchor? Jesus. He is our anchor within the veil. You know rocks hold things down. Many parts of the world their roofs are nothing more than tin and tarp. What do you think they use to keep it in place? They anchor that stuff on their roof or they anchor their tents with rocks. Rocks are anchors. Do you have Christ as a rock and anchor in your life? Or is your ship blowing to and fro with every wind of doctrine? The Word of God provides an anchor. You know that you’re rooted when you’re tied off in the hands of Jesus. Furthermore, people don’t often think about it but works issue fire and water. I remember watching Mt. Etna erupt when I was sixteen years old sailing in the Mediterranean. It was one of the cycles. It’s done it for years. I think it did it again recently. Mt. Etna there is off of the Italian coast and it’s a tremendous mountain and at night we could see the top of it glowing.

I remember being at the volcanic park at the south end of the big island of Hawaii and watched the ground open up and lava ooze out just ten feet away, if that. Watching fire come out of a rock is very impressive. Also they have another natural occurrence where you can see water coming out of a rock. How many of you have been to Yellowstone? I’ve never been there so I have to ask you. But I’ve seen the geysers. I have been to Geyserville here in Northern California. Water comes out of the rock. Matter of fact, you may not know that in Geyserville, CA they have a thermo-electric generating plant where they generate electricity from the heated water that’s underneath the ground. You know the Bible tells us that Moses struck the rock and water came out. Do you remember that story? When the children of Israel were going through the wilderness, Exodus 17:6, he was instructed and He told the people, “Behold I will stand before you and there upon the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people might drink.”

Who does the rock represent in our story here, in our study? Jesus. Fire and water coming out of a rock. You know water is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Fire is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. And Christ gives the fire, the power, and the satisfaction of the Spirit to His people. He was struck so that we might receive that. It’s because He was smitten we receive that power, that fire. Have you read the story in the Bible where the angel appears to Gideon and Gideon leaves an offering on this altar? And the angel then touches it and out of the altar issues fire. Judges 6:21, “And the Angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in His hand, he touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of the Lord departed out of his sight.” Even if you go to the New Testament, if you have any doubts, Paul tells us what this rock symbolizes. I Corinthians 10:4, “And they all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” Now you know there’s a lot of speculation about this. “That Rock that followed them.” If you see a rock following you, would you be uneasy? Rocks typically don’t track us. You know there’s probably someone under that rock if it’s following you. Now did the children of Israel stay stationery in their experience in the wilderness or were they constantly on the move? Some scholars are really perplexed by this.

They’re wondering what does this mean? Does it mean that as they went from place to place Moses would once again strike or speak to a rock and water would gush out or was this a rock that they could carry the way they carried the Tabernacle and water came out of this rock. And maybe it was a boulder, but it might have been big enough for six men to carry or small enough for six men to carry and they’re really not sure what this means. He hit a rock that was either part of Mt. Horeb or at the foot of Mt. Horeb and water came out of the rock, but it said, “The rock followed them.” I don’t think it means the stream meandered from that one mountain all the way through the forty years of wandering and followed them that way. What does that mean? I don’t know. You study that and you come back and let me know. But it may be that they had a portable drinking fountain and the water came out of the rock. Moses may have had to review the process of hitting the rock again. We know at the end of his life he was told to speak to the rock and he got mad and he hit the rock twice and that was the reason he did not get to go into the Promised Land. He did not honor the Lord before God’s people. So rocks, they issue this life, water and power, fire.

Something else I think we’ll all agree is we need to respect rocks because rocks are enduring. Would you agree with that? Rocks endure. When you think of the great monuments of the world whether it’s the pyramids of Gisa, and I had the privilege, I don’t think you’re allowed to do it anymore, but I went inside the great pyramid and it was just amazing to me. It’s composed of, what is it? Two million stones two and a half tons apiece average, is that right? I think that’s correct. Stone. Moving all that rock. You know why it’s still there? If they made it out of mashed potatoes it wouldn’t still be there, would it? If they made it out of a lot of the building materials we use today there would be no pyramids. But whether you’re thinking about Stonehenge or Masu Picu or a number of the other great… Easter Island. Why are they still there? Because they were made out of what? Stone. What are the building materials in the New Jerusalem? Is it gypsum fiberboard? You know that white cloud when the twin towers fell that chased everyone down the street? You know what produced that? That was principally produced by all of the sheet rock that was coming down and exploding and creating this white powder. That’s what created the white ash in New York and you know we went there with out team both before and after and it was still covering different things. And it was sheet rock powder. What’s the New Jerusalem built out of? It’s not wood. Look at the materials and you’ll see they’re all mineral.

Even the pearls are a mineral, aren’t they? God is going to use stone because it will last for how long? And the only reason the pyramids have aged is because of the elements in the environment have slowly worn them down. Look how long the Rock of Gibraltar has been there with the ocean beating against it. Without the harsh elements blasting against the City of God how long will it last? In perfect conditions? Forever. The conditions of Heaven will be perfect. God knows just what He’s doing. Furthermore when you’re thinking about the enduring nature of stone… I think if you’re a Seventh Day Adventist you know about Daniel chapter 2. Most of us should be able to teach Daniel chapter 2 we’ve heard that so often. It’s one of the greatest Bible studies in any evangelistic meeting. You’ve got this metal image the king dreamed about and head of gold, arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, feet of iron and clay. And what’s the other material that suddenly appears? A Rock! Now is rock part of the idol? I’m wanting you to really catch that. What was this image? It was an idol. How does God feel about idolatry? This idol of gold and silver and bronze and iron and clay represents the false religions of the world and it was in the form of a man.

It had been shaped by man. It represents the kingdoms of the world. And then this stone suddenly appears and notice what it says in Daniel 2:34 & 35. I don’t know if you’ve ever caught this. “You watched while a stone was cut without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, and the bronze, and the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like the chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away… no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” Have you ever caught the part where it says “you watched while a stone was cut without hands.” Why do you think God emphasized that? “A stone cut without hands.” Some people have wondered about that. The stone that’s going to strike the image, that means that when Jesus comes an asteroid is going to hit the earth. How many of you have heard that theology? This flaming mountain you read about in Revelation. There’s going to be a flaming mountain and it’s going to kill a third of everything and they think that means that there’s going to be an asteroid. Well, I don’t think that’s what it’s talking about. And this stone that strikes the image is certainly not an asteroid. It represents the Kingdom of God and God’s Truth and it’s God’s Truth destroys the false religions of the world. It represents Jesus who is the Truth, right? He is the Rock that’s going to destroy these other kingdoms. But here’s the part I want you to catch. “You watched while a stone was cut without hands.” Why did God include that? Without hands. As soon as a man lifted up his tool upon a rock it became an idol. Follow me.

In Exodus 20:25 when they were told to make their sacrifices to God they were to build an altar. God gave them very specific instructions regarding the altars that they built while they were out in the field. And He said, “If you make Me an altar of stone,” they weren’t required to do this, but if they were going to make a stone altar, “you shall not build it of hewn stone.” What does hewn mean? Cut, measured. Don’t build it out of hewn stone. “For if you use your tool on it you’ve profaned it.” Why did God tell them not to make it out of man’s hands? Because all of the pagan nations, they lifted up their chisels and they began to become very elaborate with their altars and they began to worship the altar instead of what was on the altar and it turned into idolatry. Now it’s true by the time they got to Solomon they did make a permanent altar and it wasn’t just stones out of the riverbed. But this is what God is telling us is that we cannot change God’s truth. As soon as you lift up your tool upon it you pollute it. It’s as God made it a natural stone out of the river. And that stone that strikes the image it has not been tainted by idolatry. That’s the symbol. “Cut without man’s hands.” Now you know what that means. Cut by God’s hands. What else was cut by God’s hands in the Bible? Ten Commandments. The first set of stones that Moses received from the Lord it says that God cut them and gave them to Moses. What did Moses do with those? He broke them. He had righteous indignation and in his fury he broke them at the foot of the mountain. God said, “Cut two more stones just like the other ones, Moses. Bring them back up to me and I’ll write on them.” But the writing was still the writing of God.

I think it’s interesting that God cut the first set, but Moses broke them and God said, “Look, I did this once. You cut them next time I’ll still write on them.” I’m not sure what the reasoning was for that but in any event when it says “stones cut without the hands of man” it represents the Word of God, the Law of God that is not to be meddled with by man. So rocks endure. Rocks also see and hear, did you know that? Any of you ever been to Mt. Rushmore? You know that’s really something and I probably should have put a picture up there. I haven’t been there before so I left it out. I like to talk about the places where I’ve been because I can be more passionate about that. But they’ve got this beautiful relief. It’s the biggest relief in the world and the highest relief in the world. It’s called Stone Mountain. Any of you been to Stone Mountain? You know what I’m talking about? It’s got, what is it? Robert E. Lee and his soldiers are up there. It’s a beautiful relief. Whole big granite hill they’ve carved it, but I’ve been to Mt. Rushmore and you sort of think Teddy Roosevelt is looking at you through his spectacles. It’s, you think, “Wow!” It’s so big and imposing. You know the Bible tells us that rocks can see and hear. How many of you remember the pet rock rage that went around? How many of you will admit that at one point someone either gave you or you gave someone a pet rock? Let me see your hands. Look at all that. Now you multiply that. There were a lot of those things floating around. Did you ever hear the story about the two brothers that were constantly playing jokes on each other? This is true. And one of them, they’re both millionaires, very wealthy businessmen, and during the peak of the pet rock rage one of these very wealthy brothers he rented, he got a friend to rent this very large, heavy duty construction dump truck. Now this is not the typical dump truck. This is the kind that moves boulders.

He bought a massive boulder, took it to his brother’s estate, dumped it on the front lawn and said, “I’ve got a pet rock for you.” It was a birthday present. The next year his brother got one of these big, long trailers, filled it with river gravel, dumped it on his brother’s front lawn and said, “Your rock was pregnant.” And they went back and forth like this. They always were pulling these expensive pranks on each other. But you know the Bible does tell, rocks don’t talk, we know that. But as a symbol of Christ it does mention this here in the Bible. Notice in Joshua 24:26-27 when the people renewed the covenant of the Lord there must have been this big boulder there in their presence. “And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone, and he set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. And Joshua said to all the people, ‘Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spoke to us. It therefore shall be a witness to you, lest you deny your God.’” Now can you think of that? You’ve made a promise in the presence of a stone. And here Joshua is saying, “That stone remembers.” Now do you know that you can record your voice on magnetic tape? Thomas Edison, of course, became famous for the phonograph. And you can record now your voice with digital impressions on a CD or a DVD. We’re finding that voices can be recorded somehow in matter. I have a friend that worked for IBM, worked his way up. He has this bizarre theory that everything that you’ve ever said sends out sound waves and they are absorbed by all matter. So we wonder sometimes, you know God has recording angels that record everything we say and everything we do. You’re constantly being taped. You know they say everywhere you go, practically if you’re in a civilized community, something is taping what you’re doing. I was at a Sheridan Hotel this last week.

I didn’t pay for the room. I just want you to know that. And in the elevator they’ve got security cameras. And you think it’s a nice elevator with just marble but they’ve managed to hide, they can hide in these elevators these micro camera lenses in the little Formica slivers of the rock where it looks like just part of the décor and right through the rock they’re watching, they’re listening to make sure people don’t vandalize their elevators. They can’t do that in the restrooms but they can do it in an elevator. The rocks are listening. They’re also watching. Another verse for you. Zechariah 3:9, “For behold, the stone…” The what? I just wanted to see if you’re still with me. What did I say? The what? The stone. We’re talking about rocks here. “Behold, the stone that I have laid before Joshua…” Before who? How do you say Jesus’ name in Hebrew? Joshua. “Upon that stone are seven eyes.” If you saw a rock winking back at you what would you think? We don’t typically think of rocks in this animate way. “Upon that stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription, says the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.” A stone with seven eyes. You know that immediately echoes in Revelation 5:6, “I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne, and the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes.” Who is the stone with seven eyes? The same one as the Lamb with seven eyes. That’s Christ. Why seven eyes? Do you really think that Christ is some kind of a multi-faceted Cyclops up in Heaven where He’s got all these different eyes? What do eyes represent in the Bible?

Seeing, discernment. Jesus said if the blind lead the blind they both fall in the ditch. They don’t know where they’re going. He says, “If your eye be single your whole body will be full of light.” So these seven eyes in the stone represent all knowing and this is another perspective of Jesus that He knows everything. He’s consistent like a rock. He does not change. The Bible speaks of rocks in terms of judgement in the Bible. You know the story. I Samuel 17:49 when there was that great battle between David and Goliath. All of Saul’s soldiers had been trained with spear and sword and bow but they were afraid to go against the giant and David went out to meet him in the valley and what did he have? He had a sling. It also said he had his shepherd’s staff with him. That’s why Goliath got mad and said, “You come against me with a stick! Am I a dog?” But he laid his staff down, took up five smooth stones. These are symbols for the word of God because of the five books of Moses. And he ran to meet the giant, he slung his stone and it sunk into the giant’s forehead. For her name written in the forehead. Where is the seal of God placed? The Bible says, “This word of mine shall be in your heart, it shall be on your hand, it shall be between your eyes.” You remember? Deuteronomy 6:4. That great command, the word of God in the forehead. Now was it only David that had problems with giants? Menacing, frightening giants? Or do we sometimes have giants that give us a hard time that we think are indestructible? “All the people of Israel fled before Goliath” until David came along and David is a type of Christ. What did David use to bring the giant down? A stone. It wasn’t even a very big one.

Jesus said, “If you’ve got faith like a grain of mustard seed you can move mountains.” The stone represents the word of God. Christ is a mighty Rock. He is a symbol of the entirety of the Word of God. All David needed was a stone symbolizing the power you can find even in one verse. What did Jesus use to send the Devil running? Little passages. “It is written.” He quoted the verse. “It is written.” And what did the Devil do? He fled. David slung his stone and it sank into Goliath’s forehead. And I’ve got a suggestion for you. If we can get the Word of God in our foreheads we won’t have so much problem with the giants either, amen? I think there’s a principal there that we can still apply. Rocks of judgement. Have you ever read this verse and wondered about it? This is connection with this cornerstone story. Jesus looked at them and said, this is Luke 20 verse 17 & 18, “What then is this that is written: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’?” Now notice what He says, “Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” Now, there’s no third category in this verse. Everybody either falls on the stone or the stone falls on them. Now this cornerstone that they used to build the temple, do you think it was big or little? How many think it was big? Pretty big? Pretty heavy. Probably some of them bumped into it, tripped over it, kicked their shin, stubbed their toe, maybe even bumped their head if they weren’t watching where they were going, but they probably survived. But it got their attention. It brought forth tears. But if that stone should happen to fall on them there was no survival. You still understand what I’m saying?

Everybody encounters the stone. The Word of God is compared to a stone. The Law of God is written on a stone. I do not want to be under the Law, do you? That doesn’t mean that I can disobey the Law. If you’re under the Law you’re under the curse “it will grind” you “to powder.” It’s like what a grindstone did to the grain. It ground it to powder. What did that stone do to the image in Daniel chapter 2? It ground it to powder like chaff and it all blew away. Everybody has to deal with the stone. It either becomes your foundation after you stub your toe on it and you find it and you shed some tears, you’re broken. Whoever falls on the stone will be broken. You know I understand that after Peter denied Jesus he went out and wept bitterly. Where do you think he went? He went to the Garden of Gethsemane and there in the Garden of Gethsemane is a big stone and we believe that’s where Jesus wept. Peter fell upon the rock and was broken but on whomsoever the rock falls it will grind him to powder. The Law of God, if you’re under the Law it’s a curse and you’re condemned, you’re doomed. It’s also a foundation if you’re upon the Law it supports you. If you are driving the speed limit you do not get nervous when you see the Highway Patrolman. Right? You have no problem with the Law unless you’re breaking the Law. Did that little rambling scenario make sense to you? I’m hoping it did. Rocks of judgement. Revelation 6:16, the wicked will run and they will say to the rocks and the mountains, “Fall on us!”

Are they above it or under it? The rocks fall on them. “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!” How did the Jews typically execute offenders? They were stoned. You remember what happened to Achan? They put him in a pit and they stoned him. Absalom. Cast in a pit and they stoned him. And even though he didn’t deserve it Stephen was cast outside the city and they threw stones at him. Stones are a symbol of judgement in the Bible. And who is our judge? He’s not only our foundation but He is our judge. Revelation 16:21, “And a great hail came from heaven and fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent.” Somewhere between fifty-six and seventy-five pounds because we don’t know, there’s variations in the measurements. Stones can be good. Stones can be bad. They can be a source of judgement. Rocks also protect and shelter. I remember when I lived in New Mexico. Matter of fact, David, are you here today? Yeah, David’s here. We were able to talk… David and I were very clever.

We were able to talk La Vida Mission into buying us a motorcycle. We said, “We really need a motorcycle to visit the natives that are out on the reservation.” It’s true they’re all up and down these dirt roads. Their address was, you know, fifty feet from the cactus. It was really hard to find your members and visit them in their homes. They had PO Boxes in town. And so David and I got them to buy us a motorcycle. We bought like a 600 Kawasaki so we could visit the members. But we did a little more than just visit with our motorcycle, I must confess. And we’d sometimes go riding around in the desert and I remember this one time when we went around past Ship Rock and we were driving in this region up towards Colorado and there were these mesas. It’s not the ones you see in the pictures here. This is the ones from the Anasazi Indian. But there’s a lot of cliff dwellings. I think I’ve got another picture here. A sample of what you saw. And you could see some of these ancient dwelling places of the Native Americans where they lived. And I thought, well, you know that would be really interesting to live and to grow up in the cleft of the rock, so to speak. To have that kind of protection. Do you think they worried very much about the rain?

Do you think they worried about the wind? It probably just whistled through their homes a little bit when they lived up there. Pretty well sheltered from the blast of the sun. That would be a secure place to live unless you fell out of the window, but it made me think of the story in the Bible where Moses said, “Lord, show me your glory.” And God said, “No man can see my face and live, but here’s what I’m going to do. I will take you and I’ll place you in the cleft of the rock and I’ll pass by and as I pass by I’ll remove my hand and you’ll not see my face but you can see my hind parts.” You can see me from behind is what that means. “And that will be all you need. That will be all you can handle.” And what did he see? He saw the character of God and he saw the Glory of God. Rocks provide shelter and rocks also protect. You know when I lived up in the mountains in my cave. People often have these misconceptions. They think it was a cavern or they think that the cave was you know these typical holes in the rock. Really what my cave was is a massive boulder. And I’m not exaggerating if I tell you that… and it was one big round boulder that probably went from where I’m standing all the way to the back wall there and that high. You could probably barely fit it inside the sanctuary here.

Under that boulder was where I lived. And I remember every now and then, you know in Southern California they have earthquakes and if you’re walking down the trail and there’s an earthquake all this loose rubble and rock begins to tumble down. It’s very disconcerting, but I always felt secure when I felt a little shake if I was under my boulder because it wasn’t going anywhere. It was the biggest thing in that section of the valley and I lived under it. And the other neat thing about it was, rocks provide not only shade, they provide comfort, protection, but during the heat of the day the rock would slowly warm up and during the cold desert nights it would radiate a little bit of warmth and keep you warm. Then it would cool off by morning and through the heat of the day it would radiate a little bit of cool. It had an equalizing influence on the climate. During the day it was always a little cooler and at night it was always a little warmer because it slowly heated up and it cooled off. Some of you know what I’m talking about if you’ve been out in those regions. The Bible has a scripture. Isaiah 32:2, “A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, (and I like this) as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”

That’s what the Lord is. He is like the shadow of a great rock. Can you picture someone lost out in the desert, their camel died and they’re wandering out in the desert and the sun is just beating down on them and all they want is some shade and then they see looming off in the horizon this rock and they get there and they’re able to get protected from the blast and the rays of the sun and the hot wind in the shelter of this rock. These were nomads that went through the desert. They understood how to appreciate something as simple as a rock. Psalm 61:2, the Bible says King David wrote, “When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I am.” Who is that rock? That’s Jesus. You know we may not think of it sometimes but life can come from a rock. You ever see a little seed drops off into the crack of a rock and it just looks so out of place. It’s really beautiful if you see a plant or a flower springing up out of rock. You know the Bible tells us that Jesus, like a seed, was placed in a rock when He died and He came out alive.

Have you read that? Luke 23:53, Then they took his body down from the cross, they “wrapped it in linen, and they laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before.” Christ, the Rock of Ages, was placed in a tomb hewn out of solid rock. Was it a used tomb or was it pure? Never been used before. And Jesus when He came to life He came out of a rock. Have you ever thought of it that way before? Because He is synonymous all through the Bible with someone who is dependable, with someone you can trust. He’s an anchor, He’s a shade, He’s a judge. He has these characteristics. You ever think you could find so much to appreciate and respect about a rock? Someone who gives you shelter, protection, security, foundation and standing. Jesus is that cornerstone, but the sad thing is so many people in the world are tripping over Him. He gets in their way. They’re searching. They’re looking. I meet so many people. I met somebody on the airplane yesterday. Nice guy. Been traveling around the world. He’s just about fifty years of age, single, good job, good income, good health. Seemed very lonely. And I briefly shared with him my testimony, gave him my book because I could see he’s just tripping over the Rock. He doesn’t realize that he’s got this gold nugget and he’s using it to open the door. And there’s so many of us, it’s like, you know we need a little bit of Jesus, but He’s in our way. Friends, you either fall on the rock and you’re broken or the rock will fall on you.

Now that may sound like not a very pleasant thought to consider but you can’t get away from the cornerstone. The temple cannot be built with it. You as living stones are built on only one foundation and that’s Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone. And I would appeal to you today to find your way to that rock as your foundation, as your anchor, as the one who gives you dependability in life, as your shelter. You know I was trying to think of a closing hymn and there’s several. You know how many rock verses there are in the hymns that you sing. One of my favorites, we’re not going to sing this one, “Beneath the cross of Jesus I feign would take my stand in the shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land.” But I chose the one, “Hiding in Thee.” Why don’t you turn with me to 525 and stand with me as we sing about this shade that God has provided for us in Jesus the Rock of Ages. That was another one I was thinking of. 525.

Well, the subjects of rocks may not have a lot of emotional appeal for you but it moves me. When I think about needing someone to bring down the giants I need the Rock of ages. When I think about needing stability I need Jesus as my anchor. I need the Rock of ages. When I think about having a foundation that will survive the storm I need Jesus, the Rock of ages. When I think about a place to hide where I can see the glory of God in the cleft of the rock I recognize I need Jesus. Are you struggling for this stability, this standing, this protection? I’d rather fall on the rock now and be broken, wouldn’t you, friends? Than have it fall on me later. If you have not yet found Him as your foundation and you’d like to do that now I want to invite you to come and we’d be willing to have special prayer with you as we sing verse 2.

Fire from the Rock. That’s God’s Spirit. Water from the Rock. That’s God’s refreshing from His Spirit. You know what made that all possible for you and me is the rock was smitten and then the water flowed out. Jesus is that Rock that was smitten. If you saw somebody beating a dog would that bother you? If you saw them beating their donkey like Baalam that would probably bother you. I’ve never seen anyone get upset about a rock being struck before. Jesus was struck for you. And you know the good news is soon that rock that is cut without hands is going to come. All the gods and all the falsehoods of this world, all the kingdoms of this world will be pulverized by the coming of the Lord and that stone is going to grow into a great mountain and fill the whole earth. The only people who are going to survive the coming storm are the ones who build on that Rock. Friends, have you made that decision? Have you all made that decision? If you haven’t you can make it now. We’d like to pray with you. Come and we’ll have special prayer as we sing verse 3.

Amen. Father in Heaven, Lord, we’re thankful for the dimension, the picture you give us in your word of your character. Even compared with something as a rock, a mighty rock, a dependable foundation, Lord, we can even find inspiration and admiration for something that seems so inanimate when we consider that we need this anchor for our souls, we need this foundation for our feet. And we’re so thankful that Jesus is ready to shield us within His very presence, within Himself as our Rock. Lord, I pray that every person here will really know what it means to fall on the Rock and be broken. So many of us have treated the treasure of Christ as the Reed family did just tossing Him aside as a doorstop, not knowing how priceless He really is. I pray that He will be the center of our lives. Lord, we know that there’s a storm coming. I pray that we can be building on the Rock. I also pray, Lord, that we can be part of Your kingdom that will ultimately grow from that rock and fill the whole earth as a mighty mountain. Bless us to that end, Lord, and help us to have this relationship with you knowing that you are enduring, eternal, unchanging and that you are the monument of our hearts. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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