Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Chief Corner Stone; Part Two

By: Claire Alexander - Ezra Connection

As I read “Slow Down, Look Closely,” and Matthew 21:42, Psalm 118:22-23 and Acts 4:11 from today’s discussion—that Jesus Christ was rejected, but is the chief Cornerstone—I was reminded of an old story heard long ago of the way the temple builders threw out the main stone because they didn’t recognize its shape.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary (printed about 1710 or 1712) hints at a well-known story connected to the references above. Under his comments in Psalm 118, he says of the Stone, “They trampled upon this Stone, threw it among the rubbish out of the city; nay, they stumbled at it.” He goes on to explain to his readers how Christ is “the Head-stone of the corner . . . the chief Corner-stone in the foundation . . . the chief Top-stone in the corner, in whom the building is completed, and who must in all things have the preeminence, as the Author and Finisher of our Faith.”

I don’t know how the Inuit today build a winter igloo from blocks when they want to go out ice-fishing, but I surmise that the blocks of snow tend to have a slight inward slant. Some block at the top must act as a lock, to anchor the others, and prevent them from falling inward.

Nor do I know the source of the story I learned in childhood, and that Matthew Henry refers to, but we know from I Kings 6:7 that the enormous temple stones were cut in the quarry, and brought fully ready to the temple site so that no sounds of metal hammers and axes would be heard. The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, with an internal date of 1765, says the size of these stones of 8 and 10 cubits (21 inches a cubit) are 14 and 17.5 feet long, almost unmanageably heavy, though much bigger blocks of stone were known at the time.

Probably no one there had ever built anything with the magnitude of the temple before. The masons would measure the next huge block that had been delivered and dropped on the site, and with great effort put it in place. Undoubtedly, the whole time they kept stumbling over the huge keystone that was in their way, an irregular stone shaped like a squashed pentagon (can’t remember what we called that in math)—with the two bottom sides slanted in more like a diamond. And, finally, history tells us that they heaved the whole thing out with the rubbish.

I Peter 2 links our experience of God’s gracious provision of the milk of the Word (when we suck like hungry babies), to His preciousness. He is the living stone. We are lively stones. He is chosen, and laid ready where the Architect plans for Him to be. As we are built up, we may be broken by that stone, or we may find Him precious—we may find that He is our anchor, our key, our pin, to hold us individually and together as an arch and a building.

Lord, I thank You that You are my Top-stone. Sometimes You reveal Yourself in ways I don’t recognize—like an odd shape—or You work through me in ways that don’t fit the pattern. Help me to be so close to the milk of Your Word that I recognize who You are, and the way You show Yourself to me, so that I dare to trust You wholly. And, thank YOU for the overwhelming privilege You grant ME of finding You precious!

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