TO CHEW ON: “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.” Isaiah 8:14
Whatever this (“He will be a stone of stumbling and rock of offense”) meant to the people of Isaiah’s time, we now recognize “Rock of Offense” as one of Christ’s names.
- The image of an offending stone appears as early as Psalm 118:22:
“The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.”
- Our passage speaks of of He (Messiah) as a sanctuary to some but “a stone of stumbling,” “rock of offense” and a “trap and a snare" to both Judah and Israel. (See also Jeremiah 6:21).
- The Gospel instances of Jesus mentioned in connection with offense are many:
- He said to John’s disciples when they asked: “‘Are You the coming one?’” “‘Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me’” - Matthew 11:6.
- People of Nazareth wondered how a local boy who had grown up before they eyes could have such wisdom and supernatural power. “So they were offended at Him” and their unbelief quelled His miracles among them - Matthew 13:57.
- He offended the Pharisees by laying bare of their hypocrisy - Matthew 16:12.
- Paul gets at the root of the reason for this offense. By his estimation it’s all about the Jews clinging to law-keeping as a way of earning right standing with God versus accepting righteousness by faith (see Romans 9:31-33).
- Peter sums up this dilemma well (1 Peter 2:6-8), even bringing in the OT verses that we noted at the beginning:
"Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,
'Behold, I lay in Zion / A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, / And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.' (quoting Isaiah 28:16)
Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,'The stone which the builders rejected / Has become the chief cornerstone,' (quoting Psalm 118:22)
“A stone of stumbling / And a rock of offense” (quoting Isaiah 8:14).
I think there is a warning for us in this too. We may not be hung up on keeping the Jewish law, but there is in our culture an underlying belief that it’s on the basis of the good we do that we’ll earn our way into heaven. This “I’ve done more good things than bad” thinking fails to take into account God’s righteous, holy standard and the realization that even our best living is tainted by sin:
“All we like sheep have gone astray…” - Isaiah 53:6.
“All our righteousnesses are as fllthy rags” - Isaiah 64:6.
So let’s live in a posture of faith in Him and Him alone as our righteousness even though it’s a message that continues to offend. For it is the only way to find in this Stone a sanctuary instead of one that will someday offend, stumble, snare, even destroy (Mathew 21:44).
PRAYER: Dear Father, help me to life by faith in the sanctuary of Jesus and His death for me as the basis of my right standing with God. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.