Our Precious Cornerstone.
Isaiah 27-28, 1 John 5
…therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’” – Isaiah 28:16 ESV
God’s dealings with His people in the Old Testament can sometimes be seen as somewhat strange and difficult to understand. Even Isaiah acknowledged that God’s activities could be viewed as a bit odd. “For the Lord will rise up … to do his deed – strange is his deed! and to work his work – alien is his work! (Isaiah 28:21 ESV). There were times when God poured out His blessings on His people. There were other times when God was forced to bring judgment and extreme punishment. But God always had a reason for whatever He did. There was a method to His seeming madness. God’s discipline was purposeful. When He brought destruction, it was always so that He might eventually bring restoration. The people of Israel and Judah were guilty of turning their backs on God. Rather than depend on Him for their hope and help, they had made treaties and alliances with foreign nations. When God raised up the Assyrians to come against the northern kingdom of Israel, rather than turning to God in repentance and dependence, they turned to Egypt. They made a “covenant with death” (Isaiah 28:15) marked by lies and deception. But God would annul their covenant with death by bringing the Assyrians against them. Egypt would prove useless as an ally and powerless as a help against the Assyrians. The people of Israel had convinced themselves that they could avoid the coming calamity by working out a deal with Egypt. “…when the overwhelming whip passes through it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter” (Isaiah 28:15 ESV). But they would learn the hard way that there was only one secure source for salvation. God was going to show them that their faith was best placed in Him and in no one or nothing else.
What does this passage reveal about God?
In the middle of chapter 28, God gives Isaiah a glimpse of God’s future blessing. “…therefore thus says the Lord God, ’Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: “Whoever believes will not be in haste”‘” (Isaiah 28:16 ESV). Years later, Jesus would speak similar words in reference to Himself. “Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” (Matthew 21:42 ESV). Jesus would go on to tell the people of Israel in His day that “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits” (Matthew 21:42 ESV). Because the Jews would eventually reject Jesus as their Messiah and have Him crucified for claiming to be the Son of God, the Gospel would be made available to the Gentiles. God would fulfill His promise to Abraham and use one of his descendants (Jesus) to bless all the nations of the earth. In the book of Acts, we have recorded the words of Peter as he spoke to the Jews immediately after the miraculous events of Pentecost. “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12 ESV). Paul would also write concerning the Jews, “They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’” (Romans 9:32-33 ESV). Peter would later revisit this topic, telling His Gentile readers, “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you 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. For 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.’” (1 Peter 2:4-6 ESV). As strange as it may seem, God used the rejection of His Son by His own people as the means by which the Good News would be made available to the nations of the world.
What does this passage reveal about man?
We have a difficult time understanding God’s ways. And when God’s ways don’t make sense to us, we tend to come up with our plan. We develop our own strategy for survival. The people of Israel turned to Egypt. Abraham and Sarah turned to Hagar. King Saul turned to the witch of Endor. Jacob turned to trickery and deception. Over and over again in Scripture, we see the people of God turning to someone or something else other than God – all because they could not understand what God was doing or because they didn’t like the way His plan was turning out. But God’s ways are not our ways. His plans do not make sense to us. The Jews of Jesus’ day could not understand how their long-awaited Messiah could show up in the form of a common peasant who had no army, no weapons, and no hope of ever defeating the Romans or any other enemy of Israel. Jesus didn’t fit the bill. He didn’t look like a Messiah. He didn’t talk like a Messiah. He didn’t act like a Messiah. So they rejected Him. But God had a plan in mind. He had a purpose for their stubborn rejection of the very one who would prove to be the precious cornerstone, a sure foundation, and their future hope of salvation and security. .
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
In his gospel, John wrote of Jesus, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:11-12 ESV). Because the Jews rejected Jesus, I was given the opportunity to hear the Good News and become a child of God. What a strange, alien plan. But what a wonderful, fantastic and amazing plan. It is because of what accomplished through Christ that we can have a right relationship with God the Father. John wrote in his first letter, “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20 ESV). And the amazing thing is that God is not done with the people of Israel yet. He is not finished fulfilling all His plans for them. There is a day coming when God will restore His people to favor. He will rescue a remnant of His people and restore them back in the land and place His Son as their King. “In that day the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people, and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate” (Isaiah 28:5-6 ESV). Jesus Christ, the very one whom they rejected, will become their Savior and Lord. He will rule as their King sitting on the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem. As strange as it may seem, God will use the rejected One to be their redeemer and righteous ruler. “And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcome the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God!” (1 John 5:5 ESV).
Father, I am so grateful that Your ways are not our ways. I am so glad that Your plan doesn’t have to make sense to me in order for it to be right and true. I don’t have to understand it to benefit from it. I just need to trust You. Your Son is the solution to all of mankind’s problems. He is one to whom all men must turn to receive hope, help and healing. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men