Rocks

The Bible speaks a lot about rocks. From the building of numerous monuments and altars in the Old Testament (often from 12 stones) to the identification of Jesus the Christ as the chief cornerstone, the Bible is full of references to rocks and stone. I happen to believe if there is such an abundance of these metaphors, it is worth a few thoughts today. 

 

Why did God often direct the Israelites and their leaders to construct monuments and altars from stone? Well, the cynic would say, “Because Israel has rocks laying around all over the place.” Aside from the handiness, though, I believe it has more to do with the permanence and solidity of stone. God’s promises endure through the ages, and while stone is not permanent, we have plenty of examples of stone structures and monuments that are thousands of years old and still around today. God’s promises endure through the ages, and He expects our devotion to and faith in Him to be to be similarly solid and enduring. 

 

God’s Word also speaks extensively of rock as a metaphor for the power and absolute trustworthiness of God, Himself. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-25,24Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” A faith founded and reliant on the power and dependability of God cannot be swayed or destroyed by the winds and rain of circumstances and trials. 

 

Jesus’ bride, the church is also founded on the eternal and unchanging rock. Matthew 16:18 records the conversation with Peter (whose name means “small rock” in Greek) where Jesus says, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”  

 

While scholars differ on whether the distinction in the Greek between Peter (Petros or “small rock”) and “this rock” (Petra or “rock slab”) is significant, we surely understand that the church is founded on the unquestioned faith in Jesus as “the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) Even though the very gates of Hell rage against the church it will not fall because it is built on the solid rock. “This rock” is eternal, unchanging, and solid. Christ builds His church on this rock-solid foundation. 

 

Finally though, we can see that rocks aren’t universally liked, and they can cause people to stumble and resent them. In 1st Peter 2:4-8, Jesus is described as the absolute cornerstone and foundation for our faith, but this same stone is a stumbling block for unbelievers: 

 

4As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For it stands in Scripture: 

    “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
     a cornerstone chosen and precious,
     and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 

7So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, 

     “The stone that the builders rejected
      has become the cornerstone,” 

8and 

     “A stone of stumbling,
      and a rock of offense.” 

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 

 

Those who refuse to believe in the Rock of our salvation will stumble on it because it does not fit their view of self in charge and Christ as an obstacle to their willfulness. By extension, when we stand on our faith in Christ, we too can become obstacles, and the church can count on being unpopular as a result. Jesus promised in John 15:20, “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” 

 

In the Bible rock is a powerful symbol of eternal reliability in a changing world. Our God is our rock. He is the solid foundation. We can build our life on that foundation, and it will last throughout eternity. As the hymn writer said, “On Christ the solid rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.” (Edward Mote) 

In Him,

Hal