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Sermon - 6/09/02
 The Stone - Luke 20:17


The Stone

“The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone” (Luke 20:17)

Some years ago, it was asked that our study in the Book of Daniel (www.fridaystudy.org) be added to a website in Tennessee. We said "yes" and the Book of Daniel was shared with "Dorna's Lighthouse." She divided the study into "Parts" and we receive emails through that website, such as the following from a man named Ishmail, who was concerned about "Part 4" of Daniel:

"Mr. Beckham, you are wrong in your assumption that Christ and the Church are the ‘stone’ of Daniel's Prophecy. The Church did not clash with the Roman empire. It was subject to it. Islam alone defeated the Romans and the Persians. The second Khalifa Umar totally routed the Romans. They were further pounded by the Turks who captured Constantinople. The eastern empire was destroyed by the Muslims. History has spoken. Then Islam spread all over the world."

A reply was sent to Ishmail, which included the following:

Ishmail, your comment is not unlike the disciples (students) of Jesus. They were looking for a political and/or military solution to the problem of the Roman Empire. Pontias Pilate the Roman Governor had the same concern, but for a different reason. He asked Jesus, "Are You the King of the Jews?" (John 18:33). From a human perspective, Jesus was just another prisoner on trial for His life. But something great was occurring, for He had been sent to die for the sins of the world. He answered Pilate in the affirmative but added, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36).

The real need of this world is not a change in government. A simple reading of a history book or a daily newspaper reveals the awful truth - there is something wrong with humanity. We need to be changed - inside. Jesus addressed that need, telling a religious leader of His day: "You must be born again" (John 3:7). Every Roman, Arab and all others who have ever lived must be made new by the power and love of God. Otherwise, we have - nothing!

My comment (www.fridaystudy.org) in relation to the "stone" of Daniel included this:

“This ‘stone…cut out of the mountain without (human) hands’ is important. We see the precursors of this elsewhere in Scripture, as in Exodus 20:25, where Moses was allowed to build an altar of stones, but he was told ‘not…of HEWN stone.’ What’s really described here is God’s work in our lives, as opposed to our own. As stated in verse 44, ‘GOD will set up the kingdom’. As humans, WE want to set things up FOR Him. WHY are there so many religions in the world, warring against each other? Because WE want to hew OUR own stones, doing the work only HE can do. As people, we tend to set-up religions in OUR image, rather than His. There can be no peace for us, except in His way, on His terms. Let Him direct you, that you may allow His altar of love (Christ Jesus) to be set-up in the center of your heart and life. At some point, all in His kingdom will be completely formed in His image. Toward that end, let HIM do His work in you today.”

And the email to Ishmail concluded, "It's not politics or government, or even religion - it's about the power and love of God." We look to Jesus Christ and we follow Him, wherever He leads. It's Him we trust and any religious system is at best merely an attempt to understand God; and at its worst, a seeking after power. Daniel was a politician, though he was first a man of prayer. He looked to the Lord as we must, and our concerns in this world, whether religious or secular, are, by comparison, less than our need for God.

In "Streams In The Desert", Mrs. Charles E. Cowman cited a person or publication called "C.H.P." (not a reference to "California Highway Patrol"), with the following quote about Exodus 14:21 ("The Lord caused the sea to go back… all that night"), when the Red Sea was parted by God for the nation Israel:

"There may be a great working in your life when it all seems dark and you cannot see, but yet God is working… The next day simply manifested what God had done during the night. Is there anyone reading these lines who may have gotten to a place where life seems dark? You believe to see but are not seeing. In your life there is not constant victory, the daily undisturbed communion is not there, and all seems dark. But, 'the Lord caused the (Red) sea to go back… all that night.' Do not forget that it was 'all that night'. God works 'all night' until the light comes… As you believe God, He works."

Ishmail was right that "the Church" did not defeat the Roman Empire. But he was wrong that Rome was defeated by "Islam", the "Khalifa Umar", the "Turks" or the "Muslims". Like all other empires, Rome was defeated by the power and for the purposes of God. At some point, the Lord Jesus will say "Stop, no more" to all religious and political systems, and they’ll be gone - forever! HE is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and there is none like Him.

The problem with "empires" is that they are self-serving - One empire wants to defeat another like two small boys fighting in a schoolyard, just because they can. Religions tend to have the same problem. The fall of the Roman Empire and all its parts "simply manifested what God had done during the night."

Is your life in “the night" right now? In the “night" or not, many look to some organization or a popular movement, instead of simply turning to our Lord, who came to earth and died for you and me. Our need isn’t for an organization – we need Him.

Daniel’s “stone” was the real force that has destroyed all empires, including Rome. And yet, the “stone” that did the job, was the one “the builders rejected”. His name is Jesus Christ, who suffered, died and rose again. And yet some still reject Him because they view His suffering on our behalf as “weakness”. They simply didn’t understand that true power is based in love. And Jesus Christ surely loves you and me.

Lord, we receive You now. We bring You our troubles and our sorrows and confess our need of You. Forgive us and heal us. Thank You, Jesus. In Your Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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