Originally published: Friday, July 19, 2013
The contractor hired a few young men to help build a small house in a low-budget residential area. It was a small budget project. So, the contractor hired these inexperienced young men – to whom the contractor would pay low wages - to dig the footings rather than renting the power equipment to do the job. So, on the first day on the job their soft hands were digging a ditch between the yellow nylon twine in the hard red day with a pick ax and a shovel. Hour after hour as the sun beat down, blisters developed, grew, broke, and grew again as these young men dug this trench, a foot and a half wide with straight sides and a flat bottom. When the foreman returned hours later to inspect and help with his finishing touches and grade stakes, in came a concrete truck to fill in the hard-won space.
What they were working on was called the foundation. A foundation is an underlying base or support; in other words, a body or ground upon overlays a built structure. It is the lowest load-bearing part of a building, typically below ground level. This foundation is to be sound. It should rest on firm undisturbed soil or bedrock so that it can provide reliable support for the structure. The type and quality of the foundation required will, of course, depend on many factors, including the size and weight of the structure to be built as well as the kind and stability of the soil. Foundations for homes are usually no more than one or two feet deep. But if you build a skyscraper, tower, or massive bridge, the foundation will need to be much more substantial. For example, the twin Petronas Towers soaring above Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were sited on soil that couldn't support the weight of die 1,500-foot skyscrapers, so the foundation had to rest on solid bedrock. Imagine how deep the massive hole for the 394-foot-deep concrete and steel foundation, to date, this is the deepest foundation for any building. For comparison, in January 2010 the world's tallest building, rising 2,717 feet above die desert of Dubai and known as Burj Khalifa, has a nearly half-million-ton concrete and steel foundation that extends down only 164 feet. While the foundations may vary, they still need to have the capacity to bear the structure's weight, and keep it standing; this implies that the foundation precedes the building.
The Bible speaks of a "rock" that served as a foundation for the temple of Solomon. Christ identified with this rock. Ellen White tells the story,
"In quoting the prophecy of the rejected stone, Christ referred to an actual occurrence in the history of Israel. The incident was connected with the building of the first temple. While it had a special application at the time of Christ's first advent, and should have appealed with special force to the Jews, it has also a lesson for us. When the temple of Solomon was erected, the immense stones for the walls and the foundation were entirely prepared at the quarry; after they were brought to the place of building, not an instrument was to be used upon them; the workmen had only to place them in position. For use in the foundation, one stone of unusual size and peculiar shape had been brought; but the workmen could find no place for it, and would not accept it. It was an annoyance to them, as it lay unused in their way. Long it remained a rejected stone. But when the builders came to the laying of the corner, they searched for a long time to find a stone of sufficient size and strength, and of the proper shape, to take that particular place, and bear the great weight which would rest upon it. Should they make an unwise choice for this important place, the safety of the entire building would be endangered? They must find a stone capable of resisting the influence of the sun, of frost, and of tempest. Several stones had at different times been chosen, but under the pressure of immense weights they had crumbled to pieces. Others could not bear the test of the sudden atmospheric changes. But at last, attention was called to the stone so long rejected. It had been exposed to the air, to sun and storm, without revealing the slightest crack. The builders examined this stone. It had borne every test but one. If it could bear the test of severe pressure, they decided to accept it for the cornerstone. The trial was made. The stone was accepted, brought to its assigned position, and found to be an exact fit. In prophetic vision, Isaiah was shown that this stone was a symbol of Christ. He says:
"Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. And He shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken."
Carried down in prophetic vision to the first advent, the prophet is shown that Christ is to bear trials and tests of which the treatment of the chief cornerstone in the temple of Solomon was symbolic. The prophet declares: "Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." Isaiah 8:13-15; 28:16."
So, Christ told the Jews that they were treating Him as this stone was treated. He says to them in Mat 21:42 Jesus saith unto them, "Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?"
Paul picks up on this theme in Ephesians 2. He calls us the building and Christ the foundation. Let us read,
Eph 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Eph 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
This has two implications. On the one hand, if Jesus is the foundation, then not one of us is as important as Jesus (and we do not have to dig the footings). The only reason we can stand is because He bears our weight and keeps us standing. On the other hand, we need not worry about how we can stand and not fall. Jesus bears and holds us all; if only we let Him. Both extremes are dangerous. They are both treating Him as the "stone that the builders rejected." It is letting the stone fall on you. By, faith bring forth the fruit of falling on the stone and being broken (Matthew 21: 44 - 45).