Living Stones – 2

1 Peter 2:4-10  |  Sermon Notes


Unfinished Business

6    For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

The first mention of a cornerstone is in Job 38. The Lord sees the Land as the foundation of His Temple. The entire structure reflects the Covenantal nature of the act of Creation.

Then the LORD (Transcendence)
…..answered Job (Hierarchy)
……….out of the whirlwind,
……….and said: (Ethics 1 – Law given)
……………“Who is this who darkens counsel
……………(Ethics 2 – Law opened)

……….By words without [wisdom]?
……….(Ethics 3 – Law received)
…..Now [gird] yourself like a man; (Sanctions – Adam)
I will question [, and instruct]. (Day of God)

Where were you (Creation – Genesis)
…..when I laid the foundations (Division – Exodus)
……….of the [Land]? (Ascension – Leviticus)
……………[Divulge] (Testing – Numbers)
……….if you have understanding. (Maturity – Deuteronomy)
…..Who determined its measurements? (Conquest/Joshua)
Surely you know! (Glorification – Wise Judges)

Or who stretched the line upon it? (Day 1 – Ark)
…..To what were its foundations fastened? (Day 2 – Veil)
……….Or who laid its cornerstone?” (Day 3 – Altar)
……………When the morning stars (Day 4 – Lamps)
……….sang together, (Day 5 – Incense)
…..And all the sons of God (Day 6 – Mediators)
shouted for joy? (Day 7 – Rest)

Notice the cornerstone is the third line of the third stanza. Jesus is the true Land upon which everything rests.

This cornerstone is not only precious but the “choice” stone of the quarry. The permanent house of God is made of cut stones, like Solomon’s Temple. This means it is not an Adamic house (like a bloody altar) but an Evian house, where the sacrifice is praise. It is not a house of Knife but of Fire. It is a house of music. The sound of the chisel will not be heard in it.

“And the temple, when it was being built, was built with stone finished at the quarry, so that no hammer or chisel [or] any iron tool was heard in the temple while it was being built.” 1 Kings 6:7

7    Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”

Peter now quotes the second use of “cornerstone” in Scripture. We discussed that this stone was given to the Jews, who assessed it, and misclassified it. He was a precious stone, who required no cutting. But “men” has been replaced with “builders.” The reference is to the craftsmen of the Bible, like Aholiab and Bezalel, who could only successfully build the house of God according to the heavenly pattern if they were filled with the Spirit of God. It takes the Spirit to open our eyes to the quality of Jesus. He restores our sight, our judgment, and we recognise that He is righteous and we are sinners. Only by the Spirit can we be workmen who are not ashamed. [1]

8    and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”

The reference here is from Isaiah, and it is two-fold. There is a stone of stumbling and a rock that causes a fall.

Firstly, an altar is “raised up.” It has to do with the raising up of the Land, the Firstfruits and the Ascension Offering. These rites bring Man close to God. But instead of providing sanctuary, a covering for sin, an altar stone that raises the humble Man, it would bring proud Man down. The humble are exalted, but the proud are thrown down.

According to Isaiah 8, the source of Peter’s quote, this fall is due to a misplaced fear, a fear of men and their conspiracies instead of the fear of a holy God.

The LORD Almighty
is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread.

The passage refers to the Temple sanctuary, but makes a distinction between the man-made Temple and the true Temple, which is God Himself.

He will be a holy place;
for both Israel and Judah he will be
a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.
And for the people of Jerusalem he will be
a trap and a snare.
Many of them will stumble;
they will fall and be broken,
they will be snared and captured.”

Secondly, a stone that causes people to stumble is a stone on the ground. Adam is unable to stand. His heel is bruised and he limps like Jacob. But what is a rock that makes him fall? It may just be a bigger stone on the ground, but rocks were thrown by the ministers of God’s justice to atone for murder or adultery. The sound of a stoning was the sound of God’s chisel cutting an individual or family out of history. And the blood of the slain was atoned for by the blood of the slayer.

Perhaps the thought here is that the ground cursed by the unatoned sins of God’s people would bring about their fall, even if men failed to pick up stones and administer justice. God Himself can raise up stones to bring us down.

Israel often failed to administer such justice against the serpent and his offspring. When the Day of the Lord arrived, the “Day of Coverings,” God Himself turned up to administer the justice miscarried by unfaithful Adams. Men were suddenly face to face with the Lawgiver, and they actually called on the rocks and hills to cover them.

Those who stumble at God’s holy Law will fall under its curses, even when God’s ministers fail to carry out the Law. Of course, this Law has been slain and resurrected in Christ as the gospel, as Spirit-Law, yet curses remain, and they are eternal. But for those who believe, there is no further business, no further “trade” required. It is finished. There is still justice, but there is also justification.

Cut stones are holy. They are silent witnesses to the Law of God, whether they are the tablets of Moses or the Temple of Solomon, a reason for praise. But unfinished stones demand blood. They are the ground crying out as a witness against Cain.

Christ, as a stone cut out by God, was thrown at the feet of the edifice of the Gentile kingdoms and He brought them crashing down. He founded a fifth empire. His kingdom is growing into a great mountain, not a burning mountain like Sinai, but a bridal mountain like Zion. There are two mountains in Revelation: the burning mountain was thrown into the Sea. Jesus commanded His disciples to dismantle Moses by fulfilling Moses. God raised up children to Abraham from barren stones, [2] and the ministry of the apostles was both more life-giving, and more damning, to Israel than any stones raised up under Moses.

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

Peter here refers to Paul’s words in Romans 6 concerning Herodian worship as a new Egypt, the Herods as Pharaohs. It was the unfaithful Jews who were destined to disobey the Law and be cursed–as high-handed sinners–that the blessing might come to the Gentiles. Israel’s destiny was always to sacrifice, to die as a nearbringing, for the life of the world. Since Abraham, as a substitute for the world, the altar of Israel was always the object of God’s wrath, that the nations might be the objects of His mercy. [3]

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden… What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

9    But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

This verse follows the Feasts of Israel. There is much talk about “replacement theology.” But did the Church replace Israel? No more than the Temple replaced the Tabernacle, or the butterfly replaces the caterpillar — or Christ crucified was replaced by the resurrected Saviour. The Church is one new man, a body called not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles.

10    Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Peter now quotes Hosea, where God promises to restore Israel after the captivity. The condemned harlot would be redeemed and shown mercy. This supports the idea of transformation rather than replacement. Israel was slain under the Law and resurrected from Babylon, and the same process was happening in the first century.

John says that we are now the sons of God. Being a Jew was an office before God, in His holy court. That job has been transferred to the Church, the body of Christ. Anyone who thinks Jews are still God’s chosen people do not understand the Bible and how God works.

Israel was an unfaithful bride stoned to death — finished — under the perfect Law of the stony tablets of Moses. But she was also the daughter of a priest, whose remains, once stoned, were to be burnt with fire. This burning sounds hateful but it actually pictured a blessing, not a curse. It is Pentecostal. It pictured Spirit-filling and resurrection and ascension to God. The Herodian Temple became the altar of Baal. God slew the sorcerous, murderous Jezebel of Judaism and resurrected her in a new body — of Jews and Gentiles — as a holy Temple, a covering of fiery Pentecostal gemstones from the Land and shining pearls from the Sea.

Atonement by blood means justice is satisfied. Concerning the Law, the shedding of blood means business is finished. But with God, there is always a greater work to do. Business is not actually finished until the resurrection.

The final post will be an analysis of the structure of this passage.

[1] See Unashamed Artisans.
[2] Yes, testicles are symbols of life-giving stones, hence the emphasis on their protection and rejection of eunuchs from the Old Covenant priesthood (Lev. 21:20; Deut. 23:1; 25:11-12). Priests had to be perfect offerings. Not only are there two stones in the Ark of the Covenant, there were “binary” stones in the ephod, the urim and thummim, black and white, X and Y, overshadowing Eve and deciding the future of the Land. See God’s G amble.
[3] Separating Israel from the nations as the focus of blessing and cursing avoided another “Creational” judgment like the flood. See World Stuff.

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