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March 4, 2016

Text:  “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god…Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you and declared it? And you are my witnesses!  Is there a god besides me?  There is no Rock; I know not any.” Isaiah 44:6, 8

illustrationLife comes at us from all directions attempting to displace and unsettle us. It may come as a howling, ferocious storm, or it may try to undermine us with  subtlety and guile by eroding us slowly. At any time each of us may feel either battered or nearly invincible; our emotions may be in turmoil or we may feel at peace. But whether we feel secure or embattled it is a sure bet that our circumstances will toss us from one to the other. Nevertheless, it is imperative that we have a certainty that there is a strong undergirding to which we may flee to be safe and secure: a  respite from danger and disaster, a place of encouragement, renewal, and haven. We need a Rock so powerful and reliable that we can weather any storm and brave any battle.

The term “Rock” is used often in the Bible to identify God: some insist that it is another of his several names in the Scriptures. (I agree.) This is a familiar figure of speech where one word is used for another thing or person (i.e. a metonymy).  Of course, the figure is often (but not exclusively) found in the wisdom and poetic books as well as in the prophetical books. It appears with this denotation in the Psalms 30 times and in Isaiah 13 times. Nearly all of these inform us of the succor, comfort, providence and strength of our dependable God!

In our text Isaiah relates that God says “besides me there is no God”. Then at the end of our citation he says, “There is no (other) Rock…” [in parentheses, my interpretation]  Here is our assurance, trust, hope, and empowerment!  We cannot depend upon a God who is weak, unstable, vacillating, and unable or unwilling to care for and protect us.   We must maintain faith and serve him unceasingly! We will assuredly be assailed by Satan, enticed by worldliness, and beset by woes and sorrows. Thus we can stand upon him,  take comfort in him, and keep fighting by his strength. God says to his people, “Cast your burdens on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit  the righteous  to be moved.” Psalm 55:22  There is no other God. Give him your unswerving  trust.

As our Rock, God is faithful to provide the stability, the dependability, and the reliability which our souls need in the uncertainty of this world.  He knows our vulnerabilities and anxieties. He knows our misgivings. He offers us understanding for our sorrows and trials. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34  He is comforting and assuring regarding our doubts. God gives his personal guarantee. “Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you and declared it?” (text above)

Let us put all our reliance and trust in the “Rock of our salvation”. Let us rejoice and sing of his wondrous providence in our woes and perils. When the shepherd boy David was delivered by God from the evil intentions of King Saul,  David extolled God as his deliverer. “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my delivererer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.” Psalms 18:2-3

How many times have you sung this hymn below? It is always an inspiration and reminder of the salvation and providence of God!

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Here is the first line of a familiar Psalm which reminds us of our gratitude for the ever-present faith and providence of God our Rock.

“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!” Psalms 95:1



(Note. The picture at the head of this article is of the Rock of Gibraltar.)


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