August 3, 2022

Christ is the Cornerstone of the Church


"Has [government] any solid foundation? Any chief cornerstone?... I think it has an everlasting foundation in the unchangeable will of God? The sum of my argument is that civil government is of God."

DAILY READING : ISAIAH 28 ? 30; 31 - 35

TEXT : Isa 28:14 Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. Isa 28:15  Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: Isa 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.
Throughout the history of God's people - both the Jews and the Church, there has been a resolute and stubborn distain of the preaching of the Word of God during times of apostasy. This is particularly true when the preaching is against a current trend of false spirituality and adherence to vain ambitions based on empty promises. Thus, it was for Judah during the time of the ministry of Isaiah. The people of Judah [Jews] thought they would never see the judgment of God since their [false] teachers taught them that philosophy. Unfortunately, the people did not know God's Laws are immutable and when they are violated there are always repercussions. Hence, Isaiah was sawn in half for his efforts to preach the truth - as historical tradition tells us.
Isaiah 28:14
"Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men,.... Men of scorn and mockery, that scoffed and mocked at the word of God, as in the preceding verse Isa_28:13; or at the threatenings of punishment; and even made a jest of death and hell, as in the following words: "the word of the Lord" they are called upon to hear, hearken, and attend to, is either the word of promise of the Messiah, Isa_28:16 or rather the word threatening them with ruin, Isa_28:18 or it may be both:
that rule this people which is in Jerusalem; which must not be understood of the chief ruler Hezekiah, but rather of some subordinate rulers, such as Shebna and others; these set a very bad example to the common people: no wonder that irreligion and profaneness prevail, when civil magistrates are scoffers at religion. It agrees best with the rulers of the Jewish people in the times of Christ, who mocked at him and his ministry, and that of his apostles." [John Gill]
For this reason, spiritual leaders in the Church have a greater responsibility, and consequently a stricter judgment before God. Choose your spiritual leader, that one who will lead you and your family or friends, carefully. They will do more good or harm - whatever the case may be, than anyone else on earth. A spiritual leader often has more influence than any other person you will ever meet. For this reason, the people of Judah came to such destruction. Their leaders taught them lies. Moreover, the people believed in lies, partly because they trusted their leaders to guide them in the right way, and partly because the people did have a love of the truth. This is the main reason false teachers enjoy such popularity and success. It is because the people want to hear a message that appeals to their sinful ways, allowing them to violate God, while believing God will never leave them or judge them.
However, as you inspect the Word of God, you find that you are warned not to depart from the LORD as He has explained Himself to you. In addition the LORD has clearly explained that He will judge His people if they sin against Him. By reading the Word of God for yourself, you will be spared the delusion of believing a lie - one that states you can live whatever way you want and still have the security of God provision and protection. Judah believed this type of lie and was profoundly disappointed when God abandoned them to their enemies. This came on them because of their leaders who, being blind, led them straight into a deep ditch from which it took seventy years to overcome. That is, seventy years of hard bondage, many sorrows, and a much anguish of spirit and soul.
Isaiah 28:15
"We have made a covenant with death - We are not to suppose that they had formally said this, but that their conduct was as if they had said it; they lived as securely as if they had entered into a compact with death not to destroy them, and with hell not to devour them. The figure is a very bold one, and is designed to express the extraordinary stupidity of the nation. It is most strikingly descriptive of the great mass of people. They are as little anxious about death and hell as if they had made a compact with the king of terrors and the prince of darkness not to destroy them. They are as little moved by the appeals of the gospel, by the alarms of God's providence, by the preaching of his word, and by all the demonstrations that they are exposed to eternal death, as though they had proved that there was no hell, or had entered into a solemn covenant that they should be unmolested. A figure similar to this occurs in Job_5:23 :
For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field;
And the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee.
Compare Hos_2:18.
And with hell - Hebrew, ‘Sheol' - the land of shades, or of departed spirits (see the note at Isa_5:14). It is nearly synonymous here with death.
When the overflowing scourge shall pass through - There is here, in our translation, a little confusion of metaphor, since we speak usually of an overflowing "stream," and not of an overflowing "scourge." The word ‘scourge' (שׁיט  shayiṭ) means usually "a whip, a scourge," the same as שׁוט  shôṭ, and then means any punishment or calamity (see the note at Isa_10:26; compare Job_9:23; Job_5:21. Here its means severe judgments or calamities, as overflowing like water, or inundating a people.
We have made lies ... - That is, they acted as if they had a safe refuge in falsehood. They sought security in false doctrines, and regarded themselves as safe from all that the prophets had denounced." [Albert Barnes]
You have a strong refuge in Christ. Christ is the cornerstone of the Church. This means the Church is built on Christ, the prophets of the Old Testament, and the Apostles - no one else.  "Sola Scriptura" - "Scripture Alone," is the clarion call of our age. There is a desperate need to return to the exposition and heralding of the pure Word of God so the Church is not led off course as the people of Judah were led astray.  There are many false teachers in your midst. Some teach error by purposely deceiving people. Some who are themselves deceived, and others who are simply slothful concerning their duties in the ministry, are leading multitudes into a deep pit of deception. True teachers and preachers will exalt the Word of God - the Bible, and not change, correct, add, or subtract from it. Only by this course of action can the Church be kept pure and holy, and lay claim to the promise of God to provide and protect.
Those who teach otherwise, are fulfilling the prophecy of the Apostle Paul -
2Th 2:1  Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2Th 2:2  That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 2Th 2:3  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 2Th 2:4  Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 2Th 2:5  Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 2Th 2:6  And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 2Th 2:7  For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 2Th 2:8  And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 2Th 2:9  Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 2Th 2:10  And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2Th 2:11  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 2Th 2:12  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
1Ti 4:1  Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
And the prophecy of the Apostle Peter as well.
2Pe 2:1  But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2Pe 2:2  And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
Therefore, spare yourself. Read the Word. Study the Bible and pray. Most of all, obey Christ. For it is not those who call him LORD that will be saved, but those that obey Him.
Mat 7:21  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. Mat 7:22  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? Mat 7:23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Mat 7:24  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: Mat 7:25  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. Mat 7:26  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: Mat 7:27  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Isaiah 28:16
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD,.... In order to show what is the true foundation of hope and trust for security from death and hell, and to convince men of their vain and false confidence, as well as to comfort the people of God, such as truly feared him in Jerusalem; who, bearing the judgment denounced, might conclude that they were going to be cut off from being a nation, and that the family and kingdom of David would be at an end, and then where was the promise of the Messiah? wherefore, to relieve the minds of such, a promise of him is delivered out in the midst of a denunciation of judgment upon the wicked:
Behold, (a note of attention and admiration, as well as asseveration,)
I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone; which the Targum interprets of a king; and Jarchi of the King Messiah, who undoubtedly is meant, as is clear from Rom_9:33 and not Hezekiah, as Kimchi, and others, who was now king, when this prophecy was made, and therefore cannot respect him; but Christ, who is frequently spoken of, under the simile of a stone, Gen_49:24 and may be compared to one for his usefulness in the spiritual building, being both foundation and cornerstone, and for his great strength and durableness; and this is a stone of the Lord's laying, which he had been laying in his eternal purposes and decrees, as the Mediator, Saviour, and Redeemer of his people; and whom he was about to lay, by sending him forth, in the fulness of time, to be incarnate, suffer, and die for them: and whom he lays as the foundation in the effectual calling of his people, to build their faith and hope upon; and this is done in Zion, in the church, which is built upon him, and where he is revealed and made known to be what he is, and as here described:
a tried stone; by the Old Testament saints, and by saints in all ages, who have ventured their souls on him, and laid the whole stress of their salvation upon him, and have been saved by him; and by Satan, and his principalities and powers, by his temptations of him in the wilderness, and by his attacks upon him in the garden, and on the cross, and found him to be an immovable stone, and were broken by him; and by his divine Father, who tried his faithfulness by trusting him with all his elect, and the salvation of them; and his great strength, by laying upon him all their sins, and the punishment due unto them. Some render it, "a stone of trial", or "a trying stone" (t); by which men are tried, and discovered to be what they are, whether believers or unbelievers, sincere Christians or hypocrites; which may be known by their conduct and behaviour to Christ; if they come to him as a living stone, and he is precious to them, they are true believers; but if he is to them a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, they are unbelievers, and reprobate persons, 1Pe_2:4,
a precious corner stone; which, as it is both for the beauty and strength of the building, so it knits, cements, and keeps the parts together; and of this use is Christ in the spiritual building; angels and men are knit together in him, Jews and Gentiles, Old and New Testament saints, saints above and saints below, saints in all ages, times, and places: and a "precious" stone he is, a pearl of great price; precious to his Father, who loves him, and delights in him, and has chosen and laid him as the foundation of his church, and of every true believer; to whom also he is precious, his person, names, offices, and relations, his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, his word, ordinances, and people, and everything belonging to him:
a sure foundation; a well founded one (u); which will never give way; a rock on which the church is built, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it; a sure foundation of faith and hope, of peace, joy, and comfort, and of eternal happiness, to all that build upon it; a foundation firm and strong, immovable and everlasting; and so is every thing that is laid or depends upon it, the covenant of grace, and the promises of it, the persons of the Lord's people, and their salvation:
he that believeth; either those things, as the Targum adds, this promise and prophecy, and the things contained therein; or in Christ, the foundation laid, the tried and precious cornerstone, so it is explained in 1Pe_2:6,
shall not make haste; or be impatient for the fulfilment of this prophecy, but patiently wait for it, knowing that it is for an appointed time, and will not tarry; and that God will hasten it in his own time; or will not make haste to lay any other foundation, being satisfied with this that is laid; nor make haste to a strange god, to another Saviour, knowing there is salvation in him, and in no other. The Targum is,
"shall not be moved when trouble comes;'' being founded upon this Rock of ages, which is proof against all storms and tempests; see Mat_7:24. The Apostles Paul and Peter, agreeably to the Septuagint version, render it, "shall not be ashamed", or "confounded"; See Gill on Rom_9:33, 1Pe_2:6. [John Gill]
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