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Psalm 118 opens and closes with the same refrain. "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting."
The first eighteen verses of Psalm 118 are the song of a procession as it winds its way slowly up the hill to the Great Gate of the Temple in Jerusalem. It is sung alternately by the two halves of the procession. Verse 19 is the utterance of the leader, in the name of the whole band, on their arrival before the gates. "Open to me the gates of righteousness; I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the LORD." Verse 20 is the reply made to them by those inside the Temple gates. "This is gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter." Then they together join in with songs of praise to the LORD God. The sacrifice takes place at verse 27. The Psalm ends the way it began with resounding praise to God. "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting."
At the heart of this beautiful Hebrew processional song of worship is one of the earliest messianic testimonies to Jesus Christ. Verse 22 reads, "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone." One of the most unusual names for the Lord Jesus Christ in the Bible is the term "stone."
The Jewish people applied this reference to Abraham, David and the Messiah. In the original Old Testament context, the rejected stone is probably Israel. She was small and despised, hated and held in contempt by the Gentile nations. The builders are the empire builders of the day who enjoyed prominence and who sought to have extraordinary political success.
The Persian Empire was a mighty edifice at one time in history.
The stone of captive Israel did not seem to fit into their picture of political
plans for world dominion. Therefore, they rejected it. They intentionally passed
it by as being of little or no use to their plans. Israel is the stone the
nations despised, rejected as of no account in the political plans of those who
were trying to shape the destinies of the Eastern nations. The head corner–stone
would be the place of greatest honor.
However, in the purpose of God she was destined to a chief place. God chose Israel out of love for the accomplishment of His eternal purpose.
The purpose of God for Israel finds its fulfillment in the single–handed work of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The rejected stone in this Psalm is fulfilled in the Messiah, not the nation Israel. Israel prefigures the Messiah by the workings of the overshadowing providence of God. What is relatively true of Israel is found completely true of the Messiah.
The rejected stone becomes the Chief Corner Stone.
This passage reminds us of the occasion of the building of Solomon’s temple. When King Solomon built the temple on the place where the Dome of the Rock now stands in Jerusalem, there was no sound of hammer or saws and or pounding of any kind. The Temple was erected in silence. The rocks that formed the Temple were taken from a quarry underneath where the temple stands. The temple was built from Solomon’s quarries. It was built to such exacting blueprint dimensions that each rock was shaped perfectly before it ever left the quarry. When it arrived at the temple, it would fit perfectly in its proper place.
According to Jewish tradition a huge rock was quarried and shaped to the exacting dimensions and sent to the temple. When it arrived at the temple site the builders could find no place to use it. It didn’t seem to match any of their blueprints, so they placed it to one side. Some time passed and it was always getting in the way so workers pushed it over the edge of the bank and it rolled down into the Kidron Valley and was lost. However, when time came to hoist the cornerstone into place, the great rock that held everything in place, could not be found. The builders sent word to the quarry that they were ready for the cornerstone. The masons sent word back that cornerstone had already been delivered. Then someone remembered the huge "extra" rock that had been pushed over the cliff. When the workers retrieved the stone and hoisted it into place it fit perfectly as the cornerstone of the temple.
Jesus regarded this stone of rejection as reaching its true fulfillment in Himself. It was prophetic of His own triumph, which followed His rejection. The builders are the religious leaders of the Jewish nation, who refused to acknowledge Jewish as their Messiah. The Stone, which they thought nothing of, had now received from God the place of honor as the head–stone of the corner. The rejected stone now sat enthroned at God’s right hand.
In Matthew 21:33–46 Jesus told the parable of the Landowner who planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine–growers, and went on a journey. When harvest time came the vine–growers association took the landowners' slaves and beat one, killed another and stoned a third. He then sent a larger group of slaves to work his vineyards. They did the same things again. Then he sent his son thinking, "They will respect my son." However, the vine–growers association took the heir and killed him. Jesus concluded His parable with these words from Psalm 118:22:
“The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone; this came about from the LORD, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
Psalm 118:22 became one of the passages most frequently quoted by the early Christian teachers to describe the temporary humiliation and subsequent rejection of Jesus the crucified and risen Messiah. Observe how the Apostle Peter used this verse in Acts 4:8-12:
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.’”
Jesus was reviled, insulted, rejected and crucified by the religious leaders of the nation. However, the ultimate victory and glory belonged only to Him. The rejected stone was the choice stone of Israel.
On anther occasion the Apostle Peter wrote these words in 1 Peter 2:4–8 regarding Jesus as the living stone, rejected by men, but chosen of God to become the stumbling stone of judgment. He said:
“And coming to Him 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 a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 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’; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.”
For those who refuse to believe in Him, He is a stone of judgment, which rolls over them. What you decide to do with Jesus determines your eternal destiny. He is either your savior or your supreme judge. You make the choice. There is no other.
Jesus Christ is the rejected stone of Israel whom God has exalted to the highest position possible. He sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven. The stone became the salvation of Israel.
"This is the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23).
We need what Christ has done for us. Man is lost in sin and unbelief. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3:23, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." He went on to say in 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." We have all gone astray like sheep or cattle wandering off. We have wandered from God. It is impossible for us to save ourselves. We are dead spiritually.
The Good News is Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead. Christ died as our ransom. Romans 5:6–8 demonstrates God's love for us in the death of Jesus.
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Because God has already done everything we need in order to be saved, He is ready to give us His free gift of salvation. Man tries to make it difficult, but this is what God says in Romans 10:9–10.
“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
No one else can save you. There is only one way to the Father. In John 14:6 Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father but through Me." There is only one door to salvation. Jesus therefore said to them again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (John 10:7–9).
No one else has seen the Father. Again, Jesus said in John 6:44–47:
“No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. Not that any man has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.”
The devil says any way will do. "Why preacher, we are all trying to get to the same place. It doesn’t really matter what you believe just so you are sincere and try to be a good person." Or as some one recently said, "Be faithful to your religion and I will be faithful to mine. We are all going to the same place!" No we re not! Many are eternally separated from God because they refuse to put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.
Christ does not give us the option of believing in whoever or whatever religion. C. S. Lewis the great English scholar wrote in his book Mere Christianity a response to the idea that you can believe in almost anything about Christ:
I am trying to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else, he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity New York: Macmillan Pub. Co., 1960, pp. 40–41).
Salvation is in Christ alone. Only in one name will you ever be saved. Any other name will send you to eternal hell.
Let’s suppose for a moment that you died today and stood before the Lord God and he said to you, "Why would I let you into My heaven?" What would you say to Him? What do you think you would say?
Eternal salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." Romans 10:13 says, "for ‘WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’"
"Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD. The LORD is God, and He has given us light; Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar" (118:26–27).
"It is marvelous is our eyes."
Only God can do it. When it is grace, it is always amazing. Ephesians 2:8–9 gives us this assurance:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”
The Hebrew prophet Isaiah spoke of a testing stone. The people of Israel in his time had made lies their refuge. They had sought falsehood as their shelter. Foolish builders were making their foundations of sand. Isaiah writes, "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed’" (Isaiah 28:16). Jesus alone is the sure foundation upon which to build for eternity.
Will you put your trust in Jesus Christ to save you right now? Acknowledge your need for Jesus Christ and believe that He died for you on the cross and rose from the dead. You will have the assurance that all of your sins are forgiven and He will put a new song in your heart.
"This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it." Salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone will cause your heart to sing a new song.
"Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD. The LORD is God, and He has given us light; Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. Thou art my God, and I give thanks to Thee; Thou art my God, I extol Thee. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting."
Yes, Jesus is the precious stone who was rejected, but to whom belongs the final glory. He is the living stone who confronts men with the choice of a refuge or a stone of judgment. Believe on Him today and He will become your song of rejoicing.
"On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."
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Title: Psalm 118:22–29 Christ the Stone
Series: Christ in the Old Testament
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2008. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.
Unless otherwise noted “Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)
Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.
Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries for ten years. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Honduras.
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