A couple weeks ago I mentioned the rocks taken from the Jordan River and placed on the West Bank at Gilgal as a reminder to future Israelites of how God had parted the river for them to cross into the Promise Land on dry ground (Josh. 4:5,20-24). The stones served as a memorial to God’s miraculous provision for His people and how He would continue to be with them and provide for them.
My good friend, Gary Sedivy, with whom I worked in engineering at Hyster Company in Portland more than 40 years ago, reminded me of a quote from Sam Sherrill: “A stone is a rock that has been placed with a purpose.” Well, those rocks from the Jordan became “stones,” for they were “placed with a purpose.” We also read in I Sam. 7 of how Samuel pleaded before God on behalf of the Israelites who were under attack by the Philistines and how God routed the Philistines (vv. 3-11). “Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” (v.12). That rock was “a stone placed with a purpose!” The name Ebenezer means “stone of help.”
I also mentioned last week that God is often referred to in the Old Testament as “The Rock” (Dt. 32:3,4; I Sam. 2:1,2; II Sam. 22:2,3,32,33; Psa. 18:31; 95:1). The Hebrew words used refer to a large boulder, a craggy rock, a refuge or fortress. In the New Testament, we find a reference to how God provided from the rock for the Israelites in their wilderness wandering, saying: “and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ” (I Cor. 10:4).
With that in mind, we have a very interesting passage by the Apostle Peter who writes to Christians scattered because of the persecution: “And coming to Him (Christ) as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house…For this is contained in Scripture: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him shall not be disappointed.’ This precious value, then, is for you who believe. But for those who disbelieve, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, This became the very corner stone,’ and, ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense’ (to those who rejected Him)” (I Pet. 2:4-8). Christ, “The Rock,” was placed as the corner stone of the Church.
Paul, in writing to the Ephesian believers, spoke of how God had torn down the barriers between Jew and Gentile and, through the atoning work of Christ on the cross, making them into one body, the church: “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing well…and might reconcile them both in one body to God, through the cross…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens, with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone” (Eph. 2:14-20). “A stone is a rock placed with a purpose!”
You will recall that when Jesus asked His disciples “Who do people say that the Son of Man is? (Mt. 16:12), They said, ‘Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.’ And then Jesus turned to them and asked, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘Thou art the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.’” Jesus responded by saying that the Father revealed that to Peter and Jesus said: “You are Peter (petros = a small rock), and upon this rock (petra = a mass of rock) I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it” (vv, 13-18). Christ, not Peter, was “The Rock” upon which the church was built, for He became the “corner stone.” Peter, along with the other Apostles and prophets would be the rest of the foundation, upon which we (the members of the church) would be added as “living stones” (I Pet. 2:5). (The KJV has “lively stones”—some obviously more “lively” than others!).
Each of us, as believers in Jesus Christ, have been “placed with a purpose” in Christ’s body, the church. Our purpose is to be salt and light, as ambassadors for Christ (Mt. 5:14-16; II Cor. 5:20) to help others be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. We’re not here just biding our time until God takes us home. We have work to do as representatives of the courts of heaven to lead people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and eternal life in Him. So, “How are we doing?” Remember you, as a “living stone,” have been “placed—by God—with a purpose!”