In bible study last week we covered some familiar territory, however the unique things about That The World May Know is that is puts a wonderful slant on those things that may have been very familiar to you.
To quote Mr. Vander Laan “to understand the Scriptures, we need to know more than what the words mean, we need to understand them from the perspective of the people who thought and spoke in terms of those images every day of their lives…”
It really does put a different flavor into the scriptures when you are studying them through the eyes of our Israelite forefathers.
What did Peter mean when he called Jesus the Living Stone, what did he mean when he challenges us to be like living stones?
To fully understand what Peter was saying we must first examine what the stones were, what they stood for so to speak!
All through the Old Testament we see examples of how amazing God is. How powerfully he worked in the lives of the Israelites. There are many instances when immediately after a powerful encounter with God someone felt compelled to set up a stone pillar in remembrance of His power. There are also many instances when God himself commanded that stones be set up as well.
After confirming the covenant (Exodus 24) Moses set up twelve stones to remember that very pivotal moment. The stones represented something important. It was a physical reminder of a powerful encounter with God, but it was also a tangible reminder as well. Each time they looked at those standing stone they would remember God and how powerful he worked in the lives. These stones stood as immovable reminders of God’s steadfast promises and his unchangeable character.
They were hard to miss.
They were markers of something important. They were also opportunities for discussion, for re commitment, for remembering how great God really is. They were real markers for all to see, the Israelites and even the people who lived around them. The stones were a witness to what had happen.
Everyday they would pass by the stone pillars and were reminded of how God brought them out of slavery in Egypt and how he again had been faithful to his promise to lead them into the promise lands.
In the Book of Joshua we read about another powerful miracle. God gives Joshua very specific instruction and sends them all down to the Jordan River that is also at flood stage. The priests carrying the ark of the convent had to take a serious leap of faith and had to actually step into the rushing flood waters, only then would God’s awesome power be displayed. The waters parted and all of Israelites crossed over on dry ground and entered into the long awaited promised land. (Joshua 3-4) God commanded that twelve stone be brought up out of the river bed and set up as a reminder.
Joshua 4:20-24 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea[b] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.”
The Jews were masters at using word pictures as teaching tools, they told stories to teach critical lessons. They used images that were familiar to their listeners. Take in Peters words, listen with the image of a standing stone in your mind. See the power of God as he holds back the waters and the Israelites pass through on dry ground. Think about what the stones stood for and what they represented and why they were set up!
1 Peter 2
The Living Stone and a Chosen People
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 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.”[a]
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“A stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”[d]
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 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.
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
I have to ask myself, what do people see when they look at me. Do they see my good deeds? Am I a living standing stone or have I allowed the world’s bulldozer to knock my pillar down?
It is something to strive for and it is something to remember.
Taken from the “Follow The Rabbi” website: “The Hebrew word translated "standing stones" is massebah and means "to set up." The Israelites followed ancient customs by setting up standing stones as a reminder of God's covenant and supernatural acts on their behalf. The story of the stone was passed down from generation to generation through oral tradition.”