|He Only is My Rock and My Salvation|
In the earthly ministry of our Lord, He asked His disciples a most pertinent question; “Whom do men say that I the son of man am?” In response, the disciples gave the Lord the various opinions that were prevalent among the people at the time. Then our Lord asked His disciples a more direct question, “But whom say ye that I am?” The Apostle Peter then boldly declared by divine revelation, “Thou are the Christ, the son of the living God.” The Lord readily acknowledged that this declaration came from His Father in heaven and not by earthly wisdom. Jesus then uttered a statement involving a truth that had its beginning with the Hebrew patriarchs of old. Jesus said, “upon this rock I will build my church” (Matt. 16:13-18). W.E. Vine defines this word ‘rock’ as; petra, which denotes a mass of rock as opposed to just a fragment.
It is evident that the Lord Jesus meant it was the revealed declaration concerning His deity upon which He was going to build His church. Among most New Testament believers, it is commonly accepted that the Lord was establishing a brand new institution. They believe this institution called the church would exist in New Testament times and would be totally separate from the Old Testament Kingdom of Israel. In contrast to this belief, the Apostle Paul in writing to the Ephesian saints said that the foundation of the church would be built upon both the New Testament Apostles and Old Testament Prophets (Eph. 2:11-22). Paul then says that Jesus Christ, He whom Peter earlier declared was the Son of God, was the chief cornerstone.
This statement of Paul is extremely significant because his language in the Ephesian letter gives clear indication that the Ephesians were Israelites of the Northern House. The Apostle used terms which have reference to the former state of division among the House of Judah and the House of Israel. Such terms as: uncircumcision and circumcision, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, “He (Christ Jesus) is our peace who hath made both (houses) one” and “he [Christ] might reconcile both unto God” can find their root principles in God’s relationship with ancient Israel. The establishment and building of the Lord’s church is based upon the prophetic declaration of Jesus Christ as being the Rock of Israel as expressed in the Old Testament. If Jesus was not the rock to and for the people of Israel in the Old Testament, then He is not the rock of the church in the New Testament. There is only one rock.
The Apostle, in writing to the saints at Corinth emphatically states that when the children of Israel drank the waters from the smitten rock, they were drinking the spiritual water from Christ Himself. “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (I Cor. 10:1-4). At the feast of Tabernacles recorded in John 7:37-53, “Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” This invitation of Jesus is the spiritual anti-type based on His physical provision for ancient Israel under the leadership of Moses at a place called Massah and Meribah (Ex. 17:1-7). The Psalmist recalled that “He [Christ] brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers” (Psa. 78:16). Again the Psalmist records; “The people asked . . . He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river” (Psa. 105:40-41). It cannot be denied that the covenant nations of western civilization, as a major part of our historical heritage, have drank the spiritual waters that have flowed from the fount of living water, the Rock of our salvation.
When King David proclaimed in Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock. . .” it was based upon his knowledge of the song of Moses. In his last address to Israel, Moses said; “He is the Rock . . .” (Deut. 32:4). Moses continued his song by declaring that Israel, once known as ‘Jeshurun’, referring to the days of youth and innocence “waxed fat and kicked. . .then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the rock of his salvation” (Deut. 32:15). This seems to be typical of the covenant nations of Israel even today. We have our beginnings in innocence and Godly fear, but in process of time we wander away from our first love and wallow in our wealth and prosperity. In repeating the sins of our forefathers, we also “lightly esteem the rock of our salvation.”
The Lord was and is not only the Rock of Israel in supplying both physical and spiritual drink, but He is the Rock from whence they came. In his last address, Moses listed the iniquitous shortcomings of Israel in their departure from their youthful love relationship with the Lord. The most egregious sin of ancient Israel which is now being repeated in their modern offspring is provoking our God to jealousy by their worship of foreign gods. Moses then reiterates this act of spiritual fornication by several descriptive adjectives, such as: strange gods, abominations, sacrificed unto devils, gods whom they knew not, and to new gods (Deut. 32:16-17). The recognition of ‘strange’ gods within the covenant nations of Israel is yet to bring God’s severe judgment to our lands.
The next statement of Moses describes the God of Israel as “The Rock that begat thee” (Deut. 32:18). This relationship between the Israel family and the Almighty goes beyond one of just a spiritual connection as a god with his subjects. This word ‘begat’ in the Hebrew language (Strong’s 3205) means “to bear young, to show lineage, make to bring forth (children), bring up, calve, child, be delivered (of a child), be the son of,” etc.
This shows an organic connection between the Lord and His people Israel. This one who is the ROCK actually gave birth to His people, so therefore there exists an inseparable bond with His people as a father with his only son. Approximately 700 years later, the LORD is again pleading with His people Israel through the prophet Isaiah, and calls in deep passionate terms for His offspring to return unto Him. He calls for Israel to “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him” (Isa. 51:1-2). In Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies, the word ‘rock’ in this verse is defined as “the founder of a people.” Further evidence is given to this fact when the prophet tells the people to look unto Abraham their father and Sarah their mother. He is telling them to remember their origin and to return to the Rock that gave them birth.
In our Lord’s longsuffering and mercy for His people Israel, He calls for them to return to Him in terms which show endearing affection. In the words of the weeping prophet Jeremiah, the Lord said; “For I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn” (Jer. 31:9).
In addition to Jesus Christ being the rock upon which the church is founded, the rock out of whom rivers of living waters flow, the rock that begat Israel, He was and is Israel’s rock of strength and protection. The silver tongued prophet Isaiah, accuses Israel of not being “mindful of the rock of thy strength” ( Isa. 17:10). In one of King David’s last addresses to the people, is recorded his praise for the Lord as being his rock and fortress; “And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence” (II Sam. 22:1-3). David continued his song of praise; “For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?” and “The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.” (II Sam. 22:32, 47). The sweet Palmist of Israel even attributed his command for just rule by saying, “The Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (II Sam. 23:3).
In direct prophetic reference to Jesus Christ, Isaiah proclaimed Him as “a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel” (Isa. 8:14). Both Apostles Paul and Peter made direct reference to this prophecy and applied it to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Rom. 9:33 and I Peter 2:8). It’s the manifestation of God in flesh, Jesus Christ, which is the most critical question of lasting and severe consequence facing the covenant nations today in every area of our national life.
We who have placed our total confidence in the Rock of Israel for our personal and national salvation can say; “Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved” (Psa. 62:1-2).
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"TO SERVE THE PRESENT AGE,
MY CALLING TO FULFIL,
O MAY IT ALL MY POWERS ENGAGE,
TO DO MY MASTER'S WILL!"
MAYNARD G. JAMES