I love much of the vivid imagery and repetitive motifs that I find in the Bible. Light and darkness. Sheep and shepherd. Vine and branches. Lately, the one that’s been on my mind is that of stones and rock.
We read that God is our Rock. He’s the Rock of Ages. He placed Moses in a cleft in the rock, covering him so His transcendent glory could pass by. My soul is anchored to the rock, where my hope is built. I need to remember that in these uncertain times and my own unpredictable days.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shieldand the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2
The Lord God is strong and permanent, immovable, unchanging. We can depend on Him. He provides support, stability, and protection. He’s our refuge.
Jesus, however, is likened to a stone. But not just any stone. Most stones are considered to be dead. But He’s alive, a living stone.
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. I Peter 2:4-5
Jesus is a precious gem. He’s the cornerstone. He’s pre-eminent above all cornerstones.
The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. (Psalm 118:22) Christ Jesus himself is the chief cornerstone. (Eph 2:20)
Even though it’s been several decades since I studied Art History in college, I do remember a few things. (Actually, Steve’s always impressed when we play Jeopardy with just how much I do recall.) The symbolism of the different types of stones in ancient buildings is rich and descriptive of Jesus, but I’ve heard many people make incorrect distinctions between them. I thought I’d try to clear things up.
The cornerstone is the foundation of a building. It’s the first stone. Its importance is that all other stones will be set in reference to it. Often it’s set in a prominent location on the outside of a building, inscribed with the construction dates and the names of architect and builder. It’s essential and indispensable. Jesus is the chief cornerstone. He’s the Alpha.
And He’s also the Omega. The capstone is the finishing stone in a structure. It comes last, placed at the highest point. It is synonymous for pinnacle or crowning achievement. It has the final word. This is the definition that trips most people up. I’ve often heard a capstone described as a keystone, but they are not the same.
A keystone, more than the motto for Pennsylvania, is actually the wedge-shaped connecting stone at the apex of a vault or arch. It’s the final piece in the arch which locks all the other stones into position. In ancient buildings, that massive stone had to be strategically placed so the arch could stand on its own; they didn’t use nails or glue. An arch is not self-supporting until the keystone is situated, yet the keystone experiences less stress than the other stones due to its position. The term is used to refer to the central supporting element of a larger structure, without which the whole structure would collapse.
It’s amazing to realize that many of the buildings from antiquity have stood intact for hundreds and thousands of years. If we trust in our Rock and our Living Stone, we likewise will stand, no many how many storms may come our way.