To the non-Christian mind, to hear a Christian say that we place our trust and faith in Christ ‘The Rock’, is an almost impossible thing for them to conceive, but are we correct as Christians, to use the term Christ as ‘The Rock’ that we put our faith in?
As we look into this subject we start our research in the Old Testament at Gen. 49:24. Here Jacob is blessing his sons, and he says in verses 23 & 24 that when Joseph had been attacked he stayed strong, because the Shepherd, the ‘Rock of Israel’ was taking care of him.
In Deut. 32, Moses addresses the people of Israel, and Jehovah is referred to 5 times as “their”, or “The Rock”, (Dt. 32:4, 15, 18, 30 and 31).
The importance of correct understanding of “the Rock” from Moses to Israel, is emphasised in Numbers 20:8; where Moses had been told by God to “speak” to the “Rock”, for life giving water to come forth to them. Instead, Moses in anger “struck the Rock Twice” which did not comply with Jehovah’s instruction to him. This incident emphasises that “Jesus the Rock”; was “stricken once” for our iniquities (Isa. 53:4-5), and not twice.
Moses had on previous occasion been instructed by God to “strike the Rock”; Ex. 17:6, and he obeyed. On this subsequent occasion, in his frustration and anger with the people he dishonoured God by not speaking to the Rock, and by hitting it twice and for that sin lost the leadership of Israel, “into the Promise Land”! That privilege fell to “Joshua” (Jesus) as a prophetic precursor to the “ingathering of Israel (Jeshuran)” in the yet future to Israel; (Isa. 11:12; Jer. 30:3; Ezk. 34:11-13); after which He (The Rock) will save them from destruction by Satan; via their worldwide enemies!
Many people, including the writers have puzzled over this incident, and what appeared to be a harsh punishment of Moses by Jehovah God! However, over time and greater understanding of the Bible, and listening to the opinions of other Bible students; it is clear that as all Scripture from Genesis to Revelation is given to the world’s peoples to illuminate Christ Jesus’ role in the saving of mankind from Satan and sin!
The first clue is Gen. 3:15; and that gives the Source of the Saviour! Then afterwards the dealings of God with men, and particularly Israel, of which the above example in Numbers 20:8 stands out; show the seriousness of God in His plans and Actions regarding Jesus the Christ!
One incident sums up the profound nature of “The Rock”; that of Jesus’ meeting of the Samaritan woman “at the well”! This recorded incident in John 4:7-16 gives the profound ultimate meaning in v.10 and v.14, and clarifies all references to “The Rock” in Scripture.
Comparison is made to the false “rocks” of the heathen Nations around them, i.e. their idols, which could not sustain them in truth. Whereas the True Rock did and does sustain Israel both physically (Ex. 17:6); and spiritually (John 7:37-38 & 4:14). This is illustrated many times in Scripture, notably in Deut. 8:15-18, and the contest of Elijah with the priests of Baal (1Kings 18).
In the Psalms there are references to the Lord as the Rock and in Psm. 18:2 & 62:2, David refers to Him, as ‘the Lord is my Rock’.
David prays to the Lord for his deliverance from his enemies, especially from Saul, and in 2Sam. 22:2-3, he states “The Lord is my Rock my Fortress and my Deliverer, my God is my Rock in whom I take refuge”.
There are also many other references to Jehovah as the ‘The Rock’, in Psalms 18:2,19:14, 42:9, 62:2, 6 & 7.
Hence the Old Testament clearly shows the importance of Jehovah as ‘The Rock’ for the Jews, and that they were to see Him in this way; as their true foundation! That they would be sustained by “The Rock”, was/is guaranteed by the fact of God’s promises to Abram/Abraham, and repeated to his descendants; and is a certainty, even in their dispersed and currently fragmented state. Their diaspora is a consequence of their rejection of Jehovah, (see: Deut. 28 etc. and Acts 28:25-28); but this is only temporary, as when Christ Jesus returns, He will rescue His remnant of Israel in the future. See: The Bride of Christ.
In the New Testament we read in Matt. 16:16-18, Christ refers to Himself as the Rock to Israel. And that on it He would build His Church. Some people interpret this to mean that ‘Peter’ is the Rock referred to here. This is grave error, and offensive to say the least, and is in fact an impossibility, as only God Himself in the form of Christ can build His Church. The fact is that here we see Christ is referring to the declaration by Peter in v16 as to who Jesus is, in reply to His question in v13!
Some may question this statement, but it is clear from Christ’s own words in Matt. 15:24, ‘That He came only to the Lost Sheep of Israel’, at that point in time; and was confirming Himself as the Rock; Jehovah Incarnate!; Their foundation, their Messiah, “God with us” Matt. 1:23.
In Matt. 7:24, Our Lord reveals to Israel the importance of building their house on a Rock, which was a reminder to them (as per Moses and the Prophets) that they should only build their faith and belief on truth (Him) “The Rock”, the true foundation; and not on the “leaven of the Pharisees” (i.e. the corrupted teachings of the Pharisees)! At that time Christ is talking about the ‘Kingdom Age’, and had the Jews accepted Him as their Messiah, He would have set up the Millennial Reign at that time and John the Baptist would have been “as Elijah” (Matt. 11:14, 17:9-13 & Mark 9:11-13)! Now it is in abeyance, because of their rejection of Him!
Moving on to the Acts period, we see both Paul and Peter giving clear references to the Jews that Christ is the Rock, and therefore Messiah, and in Rom. 9:33 & 1Pet. 2:7-8 they are referring to Isa. 8:14.
Because they have rejected Him ‘He becomes a stumbling stone a Rock of offence to them’. They are clearly talking to the Jews as the Gentile Age, and Gentile priority did not start until Acts 28:28. In 1Cor. 10:4, Paul makes it clear that “the Rock is Christ”, which is prior to Acts 28:28.
In 1Peter 2:8 that there are many Jews (Peter wrote to the diaspora Jews) who reject Jesus as Messiah and He becomes a stone of stumbling and a Rock of offence to those that do not accept Him as Messiah. The fact that Peter wrote to the Jews of pre- Acts 28:28, is shown in v9; as only the Jews of the Millennial Reign are “a royal priesthood” (Ex. 19:6, Rev. 1:6 & 5:10).
When we read the above it is clear that the term ‘The Rock’, (Jesus the Christ), that the reference is to the God of Israel, at that time; but after Acts 28:28, He became available to all who believe, both Gentile and Jew; and a new Age (that of the Gentile) began, and will continue until the “time of the Gentiles is completed”, (Rom. 11:25).
As usual, Satan has managed through the Ages to deceive and miss-lead people, and moves them away from the Truth of the Word, even by using the Bible in miss-quote, as he tried with Jesus!
Firstly it is important when seeking to understand these Scriptures, to remember that Jesus Christ in Matt. 15: 24 states Himself that He came only to the “Lost sheep of the House of Israel”, (Matt. 15:24) at that point. Recognising this makes it easy to understand what He is saying, as the majority of comments from Him are directed at the Jews.
During the Acts period, both Paul and Peter give clear references to the Jews that ‘Christ is the Rock’, and because that message was rejected, “He became a stumbling stone a Rock of offence to them”! That message was the end of the mission to the Jews by particularly Paul, and at the end of Acts the priority of the message of Salvation became the Gentile Nations!
At Acts 28:28, when finally the Roman Jews rejected Christ as their Messiah, and they being the last of the Synagogues to do so, they endorsed the Sanhedrin; and all Israel became “Lo-Ammi”, (not My people).
We have no reference after Acts 28:28 (AD 63 approx.) to Christ being called ‘The Rock’. This is understandable as at this time the Jews have been set aside (Lo-Ammi), while a ‘New Man’ is being formed which is made up of mainly Gentiles with just a few Jews who take Jesus as Messiah! We are told by Paul in Col. 1:18 that ‘Christ is our head, and we are His Body’. See: The Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ:
The letters of Paul that refers to the “New Man”, “the Body of Christ”, are Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, 1Timothy, Titus & 2 Timothy.
It is clear from the above that the term “Christ as The Rock” applies to the ‘Kingdom Age on Earth’; which is under pinned by our Lord’s comments to Peter in Matt. 16:18
At that time the Jews will be Ammi again (My people) (Hosea 1 & 2), and Christ will be seen in “Great Power”, ruling in His rightful place in Jerusalem (Isa. 9:6 & Rev. 17:14). This period of time is often known as the ‘Millennial Age’, due to the reference in Revelation 20. See: The Kingdom Age:
Then Israel will indeed see Him as He is ‘Their Rock’, no longer a rock of offence.
The use of the word “Rock”, is undoubtedly a metaphor for a ‘solid sure foundation’, and it now applies to the Christian (Christ-one) in the sense of ‘a sure foundation’ for their faith in Christ Jesus promises to His Body!
In that sense, He is their “Rock”.
At the end of “This Age”; “The Rock” will perform a dramatic action, which is described in Daniel 2. That action in detail is described in Dan. 2:34 &35, which will topple and destroy all the Empire systems that are described from Nebuchadnezzar onward (downward) to the feet and toes; after which “The Rock” will “fill the whole Earth”; as “King of kings, and Lord of Lords”, Rev. 19:16!
That time is known as the “Kingdom of God on Earth”; for 1000 years; or “the Millennial”!
For more information see:
The Jew, the Gentile, and Christ
The position of the Jews in Scripture, Old and New Testaments.
The Scribes and Pharisees
The two witnesses 11.3-13
Jeshurun, (the ideal Israel): 12:4 (c)
Kingdom of Priests unto God
God's Only Begotten Son
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