The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
November 6, 2011
1) "The Lord is My Rock" (Psa. 18:2) (Tom Edwards)
"The Lord is My Rock"
by Tom Edwards
After having been away for many years from that little town of
Dunedin that I grew up in, I remember going back for a short visit
and noticing all the changes that had occurred since I was last
there. Woods I played in as a boy were replaced with
condominiums, and a lake that we had fished and swam in was also
long gone. So much was different that it hardly seemed like
that same place of my earlier days. That was either
because of the many new developments that I hadn't seen before or
the many old places that were still around, but now appearing so
much smaller, as if they had shrunk, such as the houses in my old
neighborhood. Plus, some of the older areas didn't appear to
have been kept up very well as they once had been. It was
actually a little sad to see so many things that were no longer the
Sometimes there are those things of past environments that we wish
would never change, that they would continue to blend in with how we
remember them of many years prior. But, alas, though it sounds
paradoxical, change seems to be one of those things that never
In the midst of my longing for familiarity of days gone by, I then
began thinking about God and His word and found great comfort in
knowing that if I live to be 100, God and His word will still be the
same. For He never changes. That truly is something to
be thankful for and reassured in. Consider, for example, what
the Bible teaches on this: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and
today and forever" (Heb. 13:8). Also, Jesus says of His
word in Matthew 24:35 that "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My
words will not pass away." So though so many other things
change, God and His word remains the same.
Note, too, what the Hebrew writer says about Christ in Hebrews
1:10-12: "And, 'YOU, LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF
THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS; THEY WILL
PERISH, BUT YOU REMAIN; AND THEY ALL WILL BECOME OLD LIKE A GARMENT,
AND LIKE A MANTLE YOU WILL ROLL THEM UP; LIKE A GARMENT THEY WILL
ALSO BE CHANGED. BUT YOU ARE THE SAME, AND YOUR YEARS WILL NOT COME
TO AN END.'" Therefore, even after this universe ceases to be,
the Lord will changelessly continue.
In thinking of the various metaphors that the Bible uses in
referring to God, how about the idea of Him being called a "Rock" to
depict His strength, His unchanging nature, His permanence, and His
being a solid and sure foundation?
David refers to God as being a "rock of strength" (Psa. 31:2); and
Job speaks of that which is engraved in a rock as being "forever"
(Job 19:24), indicating its permanence. Notice how Isaiah
expresses that eternal nature of God in Isaiah 26:4: "Trust in the
LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting
In thinking of a rock symbolizing a sound, sure and, unchanging
foundation, consider also Psalm 40:2: "He brought me up out of the
pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a
rock making my footsteps firm." To walk in miry clay
would be like walking in deep mud or a swampy ground. It would be
difficult to maneuver in that, and it would probably pull off your
shoes in trying to do so. But in contrast to that, we think of
David walking surefootedly on a solid rock by the help of the Lord.
The "rock" is also used to symbolize refuge and protection.
For instance, in Isaiah 32:2, "Each will be like a refuge from the
wind And a shelter from the storm, Like streams of water in a dry
country, Like the shade of a huge rock in a parched land." How
helpful it would be to come across a huge rock in a hot,
sun-scorched land to have protection in its shade from the
blistering sun or from a sharp, piercing sandstorm.
The psalmist writes, "But the LORD has been my stronghold, And my
God the rock of my refuge" (Psa. 94:22). When Saul and
his army were closing in on David and his men in the wilderness of
Maon (with David and his men on one side of a mountain, and Saul and
his on the other), a messenger came to Saul, which caused him and
his men to have to give up their pursuit of David in order to deal
with a Philistine raid. So that place came to be called "the
Rock of Escape" (1 Sam. 23:28). But more so than to just this
physical rock, David looked to the Lord as being the source of
deliverance. Notice, for instance, 2 Samuel 22:2-4: "He said,
'The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my
rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation,
my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from
violence. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies.'" (Consider also what David goes on
to say about the Lord in 2 Samuel 22:5-25.)
Therefore, more so than any rock -- even if at mountain size -- is
the Rock of Ages who can truly meet every need of those who are
His. For example, we have seen that the Edomites felt well
secure -- and arrogantly so -- in their lofty dwelling places among
the rocks; but they, apparently, had made that their only trust and
had deceived themselves into thinking they were invincible in their
natural fortress. But, as a result of their pride, God Himself
would bring them down, according to Obadiah 1:3,4: "'The arrogance
of your heart has deceived you, You who live in the clefts of the
rock, In the loftiness of your dwelling place, Who say in your
heart, "Who will bring me down to earth?" Though you build
high like the eagle, Though you set your nest among the stars, From
there I will bring you down,' declares the LORD."
So regardless of the various good things a rock can symbolize, none
of them can even come close to what is so about God Himself.
Hannah, the mother of Samuel, had made mention of this fact in one
of her prayers: "There is no one holy like the LORD, Indeed, there
is no one besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God" (1 Sam.
To the psalmist, his refuge was in the Lord to whom he prayed to "Be
to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come...For you
are my rock and my fortress" (Psa. 71:3).
We sometimes talk of being down in the valley or up on the mountain
top in describing periods of sorrow and depression in contrast to
periods of great joy. Notice, for example, David's
request in Psalm 61:1-3: "Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my
prayer. From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart
is faint; Lead me to the rock that his higher than I. For you
have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy."
We sometimes think about God being our rock in some of the songs we
sing. For instance, "The Solid Rock." It begins by
saying, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and
righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean
on Jesus' name. On Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other
ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand."
The first reference in the Bible to "Rock" being used to
figuratively represent God is found in Deuteronomy 32:4; but let me
also include verse 3. The passage says, "For I proclaim the
name of the LORD; Ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock! His
work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness
and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He."
As we think about God being referred to as a rock in the OT, since
Jesus is also God, He is also a Rock for us today, as we can see in
the prophecy about Him in Isaiah 28:16: "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.'"
That "stone" was to be laid in Zion, which was a section of
Jerusalem that David had built up, but also used to refer to all of
Jerusalem. It was there that Jesus was crucified; and by His
death, He made the foundation for the church possible.
Zion sometimes also stands for the church (see Heb. 12:22,23).
The foundation being first laid in Jerusalem is also seen in Acts 2,
which is the glorious fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy in Isaiah
2:3: "For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD
from Jerusalem." As a result of this, verse 2 shows, "The
mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief
of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the
nations will stream to it." This "mountain" represents God's
authority, which the church is built upon. It is an authority
greater than all others -- and Jesus embodies that authority.
Compare this to Matthew 16:18: "And I also say to you that you are
Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of
Hades shall not overpower it." What is the "rock" Jesus is
referring to? Read Matthew 16:13-18. The "rock" pertains
to the confession Peter had just made about Jesus, as seen in verse
16: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." So
Jesus is that rock that the church would be built upon, which also
corresponds with 1 Corinthians 3:11: "For no man can lay a
foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus
Christ." So Jesus is the only foundation for the church.
Therefore, the phrase "the foundation of the apostles and prophets"
(Eph. 2:20) would pertain to the message of Jesus that they had
As we think more about this rock that is representing Jesus, let us
look at it a little more carefully. It is said to be a "tried"
or "tested" stone (Isa. 28:16). This term was used commonly in
regards to metals which were tried in the fire to test their
quality. It was also used to refer to a purification process
in which metals would be refined (cf. Job 23:10, Psa. 66:10; Zech
13:9; 1 Pet. 1:6,7; 4:12).
But Christ had no "dross" in His life to be refined away. So
in what sense was He tried or tested? He was tried by
the devil. Matthew 4:1-11 speaks of the time the Lord was
tempted three times by Satan. But the Lord never yielded to
any of those temptations and defeated the devil by using the word of
God, which is "the sword of the Spirit" (Eph. 6:17). Jesus was
also tried by men who were continually striving to find fault with
Him and using false accusations. He was also tried by His
Father in heaven. (Though God doesn't tempt anyone to do
wrong, according to James 1:13, He does test people to see if they
will do what is right. He, therefore, allows us to go through
temptations and trials.) Concerning Jesus, the Hebrew writer
states, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with
our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we
are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15).
So Jesus was a "tried stone." Men could see the life He lived,
even under extreme cruelties; and He always lived above
reproach. As one source states, "The idea is, that God would
lay for a foundation not a stone whose qualities are unknown, and
whose stability might be doubtful, but one whose firmness and
solidity were so fully known, that the foundation and the
superstructure would be secure" (Albert Barnes).
Jesus' life is one we can praise, admire, and strive to
imitate. He was a tried stone, yet always remained true and
faithful to His Father in heaven. Even Christ's words are
filled with power. For they are "spirit" and "life," as Jesus
Himself declares in John 6:63; and the people during the Lord's time
on earth could recognize, through what He taught, the great
authority which He had possessed -- an authority that surpassed that
of their scribes (cf. Matt. 7:28,29).
Everything about Christ is of great value to the believer: the
Lord's actions, His words, His death, His resurrection, His
ascension back to the right hand of God, and His reign as the great
King of kings and Lord of lords.
Therefore, the value of that "tried stone" to the believer is
"precious" (1 Pet. 2:6,7). How wonderful Jesus is toward
us! The atonement He made to save us from our sins is of more
value than all the wealth of the world. Peter says, "knowing
that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or
gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,
but with PRECIOUS BLOOD, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the
blood of Christ" (1 Pet. 1:18,19).
Only Jesus could provide the world with the needed atonement by His
own death. It is also Peter who states in Acts 4:11,12, the
following: "He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS,
but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. And there is
salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven
that has been given among men by which we must be saved."
Christ is precious to the believer because the believer realizes
that Jesus underwent much sacrifice and suffering just to make a way
of salvation possible; and in doing so, He also manifests a
far-surpassing love for every lost soul.
If Christ is precious to us then we need to be sure that we our
building upon that great spiritual foundation of which our Lord
is. This is done by our hearing and taking heed to God's word,
as the Lord shows in Matthew 7:24-27: "Therefore everyone who hears
these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise
man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain
descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst
against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded
upon the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and
does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his
house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods
came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell,
and great was its fall." Corresponding to this, James
declares, "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely
hearers who delude themselves" (Jms. 1:22).
So let us come to Jesus today, on His terms, that we may build upon
the solid Rock -- the Rock of Ages. For then we will have
God's help through all of life's difficulties and to be able to pass
through the Judgment Day into eternal glory.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in
Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
CHURCH OF CHRIST
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Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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