In ancient architecture, the cornerstone was the first stone laid in the foundation of a building and its importance was both practical and irreplaceable. It was by the cornerstone that the whole building was oriented. The cornerstone was the stone that all other stones in the building was referenced to and oriented toward. In other words, as the cornerstone was so was the whole structure.
Hmm, I guess we should pay attention to cornerstones.
Look at our lesson today in Isaiah 28:14-22:
Thus says the LORD, you scoffers, who rule this people in Jerusalem! Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement; when the overwhelming scourge passes through it will not come to us; for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter”; therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am laying in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘He who believes will not be in haste.’ And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plummet; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter.” Then your covenant with death will be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol will not stand; when the overwhelming scourge passes through you will be beaten down by it. As often as it passes through it will take you; for morning by morning it will pass through, by day and by night; and it will be sheer terror to understand the message. For the bed is too short to stretch oneself on it, and the covering too narrow to wrap oneself in it. For the LORD will rise up as on Mount Perazim, he will be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon; to do his deed – strange is his deed! and to work his work – alien is his work! Now therefore do not scoff, lest your bonds be made strong; for I have heard a decree of destruction from the Lord GOD of hosts upon the whole land.
Let’s get this set right from the start: Jesus Christ is the Interpretive Narrative for all of humanity. That’s a big statement, I know, but our Orthodox Faith insists on nothing less. Every message, every scripture, both old and new testament, every ideology, every notion, every opinion, every doctrine, every practice, every choice, every action is known or unknown in the Person of Jesus Christ. All of life for every human, whether they realize it or not, is in direct reference of and to Jesus Christ. Period. Jesus Christ makes sense of humanity. Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone.
OK, now that we have that settled, we can start understanding what Isaiah is talking about here.
The Prophet is confronting the foolish pride of the People in thinking they can outsmart death by making a deal with death. Their foolishness is revealed in the delusion that they can lie their way past death. Their pride and ignorance has made them think they can outsmart mortality. They have built their future on the weak foundation of their own arrogance!
So Isaiah tells them about God’s Foundation for Life. And this Foundation has a Cornerstone that is Tested, Precious, and Sure.
- Tested – Our Lord Jesus faced His testing early after His baptism by John. He faced the testing of the religious leaders of His day so blinded by their own “rightness.” He faced the ultimate test of suffering and mortality on the Cross, and He passed every Test!
- Precious – Can we deny that this Lord of ours is dearer to us than even our dearest family or friend? This Lord Who loves us more than we, ourselves, know how to love, extends His life to us without condition and all He asks is that we prepare our hearts to receive Him and become His home.
- Sure – No one who makes Jesus Christ the foundation of his or her life will ever be ashamed of the life they’ve lived. They will come to the final moments of their life at peace. Just look what the prophet promises those who build on this Foundation: They won’t need to hurry. Justice and righteousness will follow their lives. And they will always be sheltered from the storms of life
Today, is Jesus Christ the Cornerstone of your life? Your life will weather every storm and your peace will be unshaken when you have His Sure Foundation holding your life by being Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Tonight we start the Centennial Celebration of 12 Holy Apostles Parish in Duluth, MN. Get the whole schedule at https://www.12holyapostles.org/centennial.html and I look forward to meeting you!