Monday, 21 October 2019
“A stone of stumbling
And a rock of offense.”
They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. 1 Peter 2:8
Peter continues with quotes from the Old Testament Scriptures in order to explain the contrast between those who would believe in Christ and those who would not. Here in verse 2:8, he cites Isaiah 8 –
“The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow;
Let Him be your fear,
And let Him be your dread.
14 He will be as a sanctuary,
But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense
To both the houses of Israel,
As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
15 And many among them shall stumble;
They shall fall and be broken,
Be snared and taken.” Isaiah 8:13-15
In the previous verse, he noted that even though Christ was rejected by “the builders,” He still became the chief cornerstone. His rejection by Israel had no bearing on God’s acceptance of Him and His fully completed work. Because He is the chief cornerstone. Those who believe “on Him will by no means be put to shame” (2:6). However, this same stone of trust and surety for the believer has become a “stone of stumbling” to those who rejected Him.
The idea here was first spoken by Jesus, during His earthly ministry –
“And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” Matthew 21:44
The idea is that if one will not look to Christ as the foundation of his faith, Christ will become the means of their failing. It should be noted that one does not stumble over what he sees. We stumble because we fail to see, and we are thus tripped up. In other words, those who fail to believe in Christ are those who fail to see the significance of what Christ has done. The dividing line is what Christ’s ministry signifies.
As Christ came to fulfill the law, it is the law which is that dividing line. One can put his trust in Moses, meaning the law, and continue to be displeasing to God, or he can come to Christ – who is the fulfillment of the Law of Moses – and be pleasing to God. Only in the grace of Christ is reconciliation with God possible. But to those who stubbornly cling to Moses for their justification, Christ has also become “a rock of offense.”
The word used here, though different than that used in the previous clause, still signifies a stumbling block. This one is specifically the trigger of a trap which causes it to close down on an unsuspecting victim. Christ is that trigger. When what He accomplished is rejected, the individual steps right into the trap. In other words, a rejection of Christ – the fulfillment and embodiment of the law – is what triggers the trap. The law itself is what causes this. The law spoke of Christ, it was fulfilled by Christ, and it condemns those who do not come to Christ. To reject Christ is to have the trap close upon the victim.
This is seen in Peter’s next words. “They stumble, being disobedient to the word.” Jesus said as much in John 5:38-40 –
“But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”
The word which the leaders of Israel clung to, meaning the Law of Moses, spoke of Christ. The word shouts out, “Come to the Messiah and be freed from this body of death.” But they, and all who reject Jesus, are disobedient to that same word. It isn’t the New Covenant which condemns; it is the Old. To be obedient to the word, meaning the Old Testament Scriptures which speak of Jesus, means to come to Jesus and receive His gospel. Those who fail to do so stumble as Peter then says, “to which they also were appointed.”
The word Peter uses signifies to put, lay, place, set, fix, and so on. The verb form in which Peter uses is aorist passive. The event occurred, and it occurred based on their rejection of Christ. They actively reject, and the appointment is received passively. When one is cleansed through ritual purification by another, for example, he must stand and allow the other to purify him with the sprinkling. The sprinkling is passively received. This is what occurs here. The person is actively disobedient, and he passively receives his appointment of stumbling.
It should be noted that Paul cites the same verse from Isaiah 8 in Romans 9:33. The message of both of these apostles is a single, united message. It is the one gospel of salvation for Jew and Gentile. To say otherwise is to proclaim a false gospel. Of this, Paul calls such a false teaching anathema, and he who teaches it is accursed (see Galatians 1:6-9). All come to Christ in the same way, and all are saved or condemned based on the same gospel.
Life application: Not only did Christ become the Cornerstone of the Church, but He is also the Capstone. He began it and He will finish it. He is preeminent in all ways to those who are a part of His living temple. But to those who have rejected God’s gracious offer through Him, He has become a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.”
Notice that those verses from Isaiah, which were quoted above, are speaking of the Lord (Jehovah), and Peter clearly identifies them with Jesus. The people of Israel, attempting to please God through works, stumbled over the stumbling stone – they missed God’s grace in a futile attempt to obtain it by their own goodness. Rather than being their Rock of refuge, He was to them a rock of offense. He fulfilled the law which they could never do and thus set it aside.
Traditions are hard to break, and pride is a cruel master. They rejected His work in an attempt to establish their own righteousness. Likewise, we love tradition and we love to add our own demands onto ourselves and others, things which are not a part of God’s word. In this, we establish our own standards of righteousness.
Take time today to evaluate your own heart in relation to what the Bible lays out for our walk before the Lord. Are you adding in pet peeves, self-goodness, or unbiblical determinations of others to your life? It is a slippery slope, so be careful to move away from these things. Christ determines doctrine for our walk before Him. Let us stand on His word alone for our life and conduct.
O God, give us wisdom when dealing in matters related to the churches we attend. Help us to stay away from legalism – both in ourselves and toward others. Instead, grant us the ability to discern what is right and appropriate from Your word, and then apply it to our lives. We love You Lord and we want to be pleasing to You in all ways. To Your glory we pray, Amen.