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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 3

A Foundation Laid in Zion

“Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” Isa. 28:16.

The prophetic reference to Christ as “a stone,” a “tried stone,” “a precious corner stone,” being laid in Zion for a sure foundation was God’s way of symbolically extolling the virtues of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Although preeminence is properly given to Christ as the stone, the tried stone and the precious corner stone we have to recognize that Zion is the building the stone is laid in for a sure foundation.

Needless to say, our feeble efforts to plumb the depths of the riches of his grace in this prophetic reference are so limited we feel frustrated and defeated in what we write. However it is God’s ordained purpose that we try. In his faithfulness he will take our feeble efforts and bless them to those who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

IN ZION

Since this stone was laid in Zion for a foundation we need to know who or what Zion is. It is commonly believed by some very fundamental groups that Zion has reference to the Jewish people in general. Some of these restrict or limit their concept to the righteous or justified of Israel.

Others actually believe that the emergence of Israel in 1948 as a nation was the prophetic return of Zion to the land of their forefathers. They look upon this as the nation that was born at once according to the prophecy of Isaiah 66:8. Some interpreters of prophecy previously taught that this would result in the national conversion of Israel, the return of Christ and the millennial reign.

But, is this true or simply religious tradition that has been added to the faith that was once delivered to the saints? I believe it can be conclusively proven by the scripture that most of this is erroneous tradition.

Zion is a people, not a literal mountain or a piece of real estate. The true Zion of the Old Testament and the New is not the natural Jew or Gentile. True Zion has reference to the redeemed which is a remnant of justified believers both Jew and Gentile.

Paul lets us know who a true Jew is in Rom. 2:28-29 where he says, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”

Rom. 9:6-7 also makes it plain that they are not all Israel which are of Israel. Being the natural seed of Abraham with access to the word of God and the everlasting covenant did not make true Israelites out of the vast majority of Jews. From this and other scriptures it is evident that Abraham’s true seed was spiritual and not natural. Isaac, the son of promise was a type of the true seed while Ishmael was a type of the natural which could never inherit the promise. Rom. 9:6-7, Gal. 4:22-31.

To the Jews who made their boast to Jesus that they were Abraham’s children Jesus said, “...If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.” John 8:29. In verse 44 of John 8, Jesus told them they were of their father the devil.

According to Isaiah 1:9, seven hundred and sixty years before Christ, there was only a very small remnant within the confines of the nation as a whole that were true spiritual Israelites. This was also true in Paul’s day over eight hundred years after Isaiah’s statement. Rom. 11:5.

This truth seems to contradict the popular and traditional concept of the Jews being God’s chosen people. But the truth is, the word will stand regardless of what tradition says. What could be any more explicit than Paul’s words in Gal. 3:26-29. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Although God dealt primarily with Israel until the promised Messiah made his first advent into the world there was a change and a new emphasis with the coming of Christ. John 4:21-24. Jesus himself spoke of the ingathering of the Gentiles when he said, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” John 10:16.

Some think that the status of the Old Testament Jew and the Gentiles of the church age are different. The Jews are supposed to be the wife of Jehovah and the Gentiles supposedly are the bride of Christ. This idea with varying concepts of the national conversion of Israel and the supposed millennial reign of Christ is the cause of much confusion among many groups. Let’s not forget that Jesus said that there would be “...one fold and one shepherd.” John 10:16.

ONE

Once we see the beauty of the oneness of God’s people many dark and gray areas of error are eliminated. The mist of idolatrous and false sanctity concerning the natural Jew and Palestine with its many religious shrines will also disappear.

Much of the problem here lies in the fact that people fail to understand that God is a universal Spirit that dwells not in temples made with hands. John 4:24.

Stephen, quoting from Isaiah, made this clear in Acts 7:48-49. Paul likewise confirmed this same truth in his sermon on Mars Hill. Acts 17:24. Both of them said positively that God did not dwell in temples made with hands.

God’s dwelling place is Zion, his people, the church. As the prophet says, how can we build a house large enough to contain God who fills heaven and earth? Isaiah 66:1.

Idolatrous man always wants to make a shrine out of a building, a mountain, a city, a statue, or a religious relic. in Jesus’ day the Samaritans reverenced their mountain and the Jews thought Jerusalem was the only place men could find God. But Jesus said, “... the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.” John 4:21.

In verses 23 & 24 of John 4 Jesus told us why. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

No earthly place, be it country, city or cathedral is any more sacred and holy than a chicken coop. Only when God meets with his people because they honor his Spirit and truth is that place sanctified by his presence. When God’s Spirit and truth are absent or twisted and perverted God is not there regardless of the religious fervor or form of the people. II Tim. 3:5.

Psalm 132:13-16 gives us a prophetic picture of true Zion and God’s purpose in her. “For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread. I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.”

That Zion is the church is made plain by Paul in Heb. 12: 22-24. “But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”

We are specifically told by Paul in Eph. 2:14-18 that the middle wall of partition between the Jew and Gentile has been abolished in Christ and they are now one body.

Eph. 2:19-22 further shows us the unity of Jew and Gentile in the building of the church on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. It will further be noticed that the purpose of being built together is for a habitation of God by the Spirit. Let’s remember that Zion has been chosen by the Lord for his habitation. Psalm 132:13. I Cor. 6:17 Says, “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit” regardless of the culture, the religious background and the differences of opinion. Eph. 4:4-6 says, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling: One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

The sum total of these scriptures and many others is that God’s people from beginning to end are one. All are saved by grace through faith in the shed blood of Christ. Before the cross they offered their animal sacrifices and looked forward to the day when the Lamb of God would put an end to those types and shadows by the offering of himself. Rom. 10:4, Heb. 10:10.

Today we look back to the cross knowing that our sin was paid for in full by the sacrifice that God the Father provided for us in the offering of his only begotten Son. John 3:16.

The reason I say sin in a singular sense is because sin, like a disease, is the cause of all sins. We need a cure for the disease and the symptoms will disappear. Heb. 9:26 says, “... but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

The stone that was laid in Zion for a foundation was Jesus Christ the Son of God. And the Zion that the stone was laid in is the redeemed of God, the true seed of Abraham, the church of Jesus Christ.

BEYOND THE VEIL

It is this true Zion that all heaven is concerned about. Its citizens consist of the redeemed of all ages. This includes the spirits of just men made perfect, an innumerable company of angels and Jesus the mediator of a better covenant. Heb. 12:22-24.

Most of the church or the redeemed are already in heaven. But they are very much aware of and concerned about what is going on in the earth realm. In fact they are actively engaged in and working from beyond the veil.

Although this sounds “far-out” to most religious people let’s consider the scriptures and what they have to say on the subject. Who were the angelic or supernatural beings that made various appearances to man in the Bible? In most instances they came in the form of men but were usually called angels. Since the word angel simply means messenger, these visitors from beyond the veil were not necessarily created or celestial beings.

Most of us are agreed that some of these appearances were the Lord Jesus in his pre-incarnation form. However this was not true in many instances. Although it was the angels Gabriel, Michael and our Lord Jesus Christ that appeared to Daniel (Dan. 9 & 10), who were the three men that appeared to Abraham in the plains of Mamre? Gen. 18: 1-2.

What about Moses and Elijah appearing to Jesus on the mount of transfiguration? They not only appeared to Jesus but they talked to him about his coming decease at Jerusalem and were recognized by James, Peter and John.

Another scriptural example of a visitation from the other realm is found in Rev. 22:8-9. At first John fell down before this being whom he thought to be an angel and would have worshipped at his feet. Refusing to accept John’s worship the angel said, “See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.”

Whether God appears to us in visible form, through an angel, man, vision or dream it is no more or less God. However we certainly need to examine all phenomena and reject everything that is unscriptural or contrary to divine principle. And above all things, we need to seek God and not signs.

Although God occasionally gets our attention through such means it is my persuasion and experience that his word is the major criteria by which he speaks to us. When an individual or group begins to drift away from or replace the word by any means they are headed for darkness and delusion. John 12:35, II Thess. 2:10-12.

WHY ZION?

Why are we so concerned and occupied with the Zion this stone was laid in for a foundation? Let me say once again that Zion, the church, true Israel, the spiritual Jews, heavenly Jerusalem and the kingdom of God are one in Christ. In reference to Jews and Gentiles, Old and New Testament, Paul contrasted earthly Jerusalem with heavenly Jerusalem by saying, “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” Gal. 4:26.

God’s purpose from before the foundation of the world was to have a people he could share his glory with. It is this people that were redeemed at Calvary. It is this people that are one by one being brought to the knowledge of their salvation. It was for the benefit of this people that ministries of men and angels were given.

Wherever these people are located God is with and watching over them. The purpose of ministries of both men and angels from both sides of the veil is to watch over these people. Endowed with gifts from God it is the duty of these ministries to teach, lead, protect and preserve these people unto the day of redemption. Eph. 4:11-14, Heb. 1:13-14, Eph. 4:30, I Peter 1:3-5.

Were it not for this elect remnant of people in the earth and the remainder that is to be brought into the fold this world would be destroyed as Sodom and Gomorrah were. Isa. 1:9, Matt. 24:22. When the last one answers the gospel call it will all be over.

This foundation stone laid in Zion is our Lord Jesus Christ. It is for the benefit of Zion that we have this sure foundation to build upon. The greatest endeavor in earth is being occupied with and helping men find this sure foundation. Everything else will fail and come to naught.

Many religious empires and kingdoms have been built for the glory of man but the gates of hell will prevail against every one of them. Only the church, the true Zion of God built upon the sure foundation will stand when the storm comes. Matt. 7:24-27, 16:13-19.

THE FOUNDATION

Needless to say a foundation is the footing or base upon which a building or structure rests. Actually it is the most important and vital part of a building. Without a good foundation the whole building stands in jeopardy.

A sure foundation is one that will do the job it is designed to do. To sustain the weight that it must carry it has to be strong and durable. It must be so designed that it will stand the stress of heat, cold, storm and earthquake. In this particular reference it is a foundation that will not fail under any circumstances.

Certainly we can see why a sure foundation is chosen as a symbol of our Lord Jesus Christ. The whole structure of the church and the kingdom of God in general rests upon his deity. As the head of all principality and power there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Col. 2:10, Acts 4:12.

However we need to see that this tried stone that forms the foundation, though vital and important, is not to be thought of as something separate and apart from the rest of the building. And though it takes many stones of all shapes and sizes to construct a building, the architect or designer has the whole building in mind from the beginning.

Peter who was called Petra (a little rock) by the Lord when he confessed that Jesus was the Christ the Son of the living God later called newborn babes living stones being built into a spiritual house. Matt. 16:16-19, I Peter 2:2-6.

Everything is going according to God’s blueprint. There are no accidents or improvisations. The building and all the material that goes into it is hand- picked and chosen. II Tim. 2:19 says, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

What man does or fails to do will not change God’s plan. “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Rom. 11:29.

When God opens our eyes to the truth, that settles it. The only choice we have is to cooperate with the inevitable and say as Paul did in Eph. 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.”

CITY OF PEACE

Jerusalem, which means city of peace, is traditionally looked upon as hallowed and sacred by many religious people in the world. Today many people still hold to the traditional concept that the greatest honor that God-fearing people can do is pray for the peace of Jerusalem. They actually think there is a spiritual blessing upon them for their concern for Jerusalem. But the Jerusalem they have in mind is earthly Jerusalem.

The truth is I agree with the premise with one exception. The Jerusalem that God is concerned about is heavenly Jerusalem and not earthly Jerusalem. Earthly Jerusalem, as well as most centers of religion, is still in bondage with her children. Gal. 4:25. According to Rev. 11:8, the city where our Lord was crucified is spiritually likened to Sodom and Egypt.

Although earthly Jerusalem is a type of the true city of peace it is merely an earthly city cursed with sin and death like all the other cities of the world.

God is vitally concerned about true Jerusalem or Zion the city of the living God. This is the city and the people that Christ died for. They are destined to share eternity and the unsearchable riches of Christ together.

God is concerned about the unity and the peace of this Jerusalem. Since sin’s entrance into the world and the spirit of division separated God, man and angels from each other, God has been working to reconcile all things unto himself.

This is accomplished through the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we make this our supreme goal in life all heaven will support us and God will bless our feeble effort. Jesus himself has prayed that we might be made perfect in one even as he and the Father are one.

To the degree that we become one in the church men will be convinced that the Father did indeed send the Son. John 17:21-23. This is top priority with God and when he is through with us we will be one. Eph. 4:11-13.

A STONE

Stone has always been used by man for many purposes because of its hard and durable qualities. Some types of stone such as marble or granite are often shipped thousands of miles to be used in beautiful and elaborate buildings. In addition to all types of buildings it is used in monuments, grave stones, boundary lines and great engineering projects such as huge dams and fortresses. The ancient Egyptians used it in the entombment of their kings and building the pyramids that even today are a scientific wonder of the world.

There are many different types of stones as there are different types of trees. Because of this variation they are used for many different purposes. Some stones are dense and very hard and some are porous and soft. Some are drab and dull and some are colorful and beautiful.

ALPHA AND OMEGA

Some stones are said by scientists to be billions of years old. As the Alpha and Omega Jesus was present when the first stone was created.

Before going to the cross Jesus prayed, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” John 17:5.

Before his incarnation he was that rock that followed the children of Israel in the wilderness. I Cor. 10:4.

He was the fourth man that King Nebuchadnezzar saw walking around in the fiery furnace with the Hebrew children. Dan. 3:24-25.

He was the captain of the Lord’s host that met Joshua just before the conquest of Jericho. Josh. 5:13-15. In fact he has watched over, protected and delivered his people since the Garden of Eden.

A TRIED STONE

Jesus is not just any stone. He is a tried stone. The first man, Adam, failed and plunged the world into great darkness. Hatred, violence, bloodshed, sorrow, pain and death have been man’s lot throughout the course of the world’s history. Conceivably Jesus too could have failed but he didn’t. As the tried stone he became a man that he might be tempted in all points like as we are. Heb. 4:15.

As man he ran the gauntlet of suffering, shame and death itself. He knows what we have to face in this earth from the cradle to the grave. This is also why he is a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God. Heb. 2:16-18.

The angel’s announcement to Joseph was, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1:21.

A PRECIOUS CORNER STONE

A corner stone is unique in that there is only one of its kind in a building. Jesus was the only begotten Son of God.

In addition to certain information inscribed on a corner stone it usually has a hollow place inside which serves as a receptacle for important information pertaining to the building.

Beyond doubt one aspect or attribute of this precious corner stone has reference to the glorious wisdom and knowledge available to God’s people in Christ. Isa. 40:28 says, “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, and Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding.”

When we as individuals or a church find ourselves in need of a sense of direction we have the unlimited resources of divine wisdom and knowledge. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not: and it shall be given him.”

The only way God the Father can be seen and understood is in the Son. God in his infinite greatness is beyond man’s finite comprehension. The incarnation was necessary because flesh and blood man could not relate to God who is universal Spirit. We learn about the Father as we behold the Son. All we need to know about God is in the Son. John 14:9. He is the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Jesus wasn’t just a corner stone but a precious corner stone. This is significant because it sets him apart as the corner stone of all corner stones. We would have to say that all corner stones serve a purpose but they are limited in the extent of that purpose.

The fullness of the Godhead bodily dwelled in Christ, “... who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Col. 2:9-10, I Cor. 1:30.

In addition to this he is the head of all principality and power with all things under his feet. This is another reason why we are complete in him. Col. 2:8-10, I Cor. 15:27. The more I study the Bible and the more I consider the great question of salvation the more I realize that Jesus indeed is the way, the truth and the life. John 14:6.

GLORIOUS GOSPEL

Jesus and the glorious gospel that was made possible through his atoning death was God’s ultimate in his plan to save man. This is why Satan works unceasingly to corrupt the gospel from the simplicity we have in Christ. II Cor. 11:3. I’m afraid it has not yet dawned upon us just how complete we are in him. The word salvation would be meaningless if it didn’t give the believers a rest of faith that ended all strife and anxiety concerning his eternal destiny.

The use of the adjective “precious” in describing this corner stone gives us an insight into something that goes far beyond the ordinary. The revelation of what is meant here will enable us to enter into a dimension of faith, hope and glory that will strengthen the weak and give hope to the hopeless.

This revelation will also give the minister of the gospel a positive message that cannot be refuted or resisted by those who are in any wise receptive to truth. This was the Spirit that motivated Paul to say in Rom. 1:16 & 17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

This adjective along with others that are used puts this corner stone in the category of a priceless treasure. The reason lost sinners do not sell all and buy the field containing this treasure is because they have never found the treasure. Matt. 13:44. Once discovered the seeker will say with Peter, “... Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” John 6:68.

The purpose of the gospel is to help men find this treasure. The word gospel means good news or glad tidings. This is also why Satan corrupts the word and blinds men’s minds to the truth of the gospel.

This is why II Cor. 3:3 & 4 says, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

When the light of the glorious gospel of Christ shines into men’s hearts they can no longer remain neutral. The greatest single factor that keeps sinners from Christ is the false concept that they must, in some way, measure up and earn their salvation. Being inherently evil and weak of mind and body they dread the thought of trying to be a Christian.

This basically is the way Satan blinds their minds to keep the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ from shining unto them. This is why this tried stone is called a precious corner stone. Like a treasured jewel cut by a master craftsman, the gospel causes the gem to reflect many beautiful and precious facets of truth that begets faith and hope in those who hear.

The gospel is God’s means of causing men to see the complete sufficiency of Christ rather than the dismal despair of his own hopelessness. Like the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves who stripped him of his raimant, and wounded him, leaving
him half dead, the lost sinner is in need of a good Samaritan. He needs someone to come to where he is and bind up his wounds pouring in oil and wine.

But the good Samaritan, a type of Christ, didn’t just minister to him and then go on his way leaving him to his own resources. He set him on his beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him. He also provided for the future of the poor man by charging the innkeeper to look after him until he returned. Luke 10:30-35.

One day while I was praying it occurred to me that I had no tangible evidence that I was saved. Feelings and emotions rise and fall with the tide of circumstances. Good works, however faithful, never measure up to the demands of God’s law. Without thinking I said, “How can anyone know they are saved?” Quick as a flash the Lord spoke to me and said, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Rom. 4:5.

This precious corner stone represents Christ in his atoning death and his compassion for the sinful, the weak, the down-trodden and the hopeless. Needless to say, he is merciful, faithful and longsuffering. This is why Heb. 7:25 says, “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” The good news of the gospel is God’s ordained way of telling sinners this story of love. When this glorious gospel shines into sin-benighted hearts they will leap with faith, hope and love.

Although Satan and his many thieves have destroyed man’s will and desire to believe in God, there is power in the gospel to resurrect man’s dead spirit and give him grace to believe. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved is the power of God.” I Cor. 1:18.

Is it any wonder Jesus is called “a precious corner stone”?

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