We live in a world filled with constant change, uncertainty and instability.
Fires, floods, pestilence, war, weather, and other momentous events can devastate communities and even countries. Economies collapse, nations rise and fall, families break apart, companies go bankrupt, and it is hard to know, from one day to the next, how long anything will last.
It is partly for this reason that the Bible reminds us, saying, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ (James 4:13-15)”
The truth is, there is nothing of permanency in this life. Everyone you know will eventually leave you, or you will leave them, if not by choice, then by reasons of death. Property, possessions and other material goods decay, break, and require constant replacement and repair. Even the most secure of situations can quickly devolve into insecurity when fortunes change. Those who focus on laying up earthly treasures as the foundation of their lives are building on sand (cf. Matthew 6:19-21).
Yet, we, as individuals crave stability and security. We want to feel safe and we want to feel protected against the everchanging forces of the world around us. For such certainty, where should we turn? The answer God gives is that we should turn to Him, who does not change.
One of the titles given to God in the Bible is “the Rock.” David, praising God, declared, “The Lord lives, and blessed be my Rock, and exalted be my God, the Rock of my salvation (2 Samuel 22:47; ESV).” In the Psalms, he writes, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14; ESV).”
David was not the first to so identify God. Prior to his death, Moses delivered a song to the Israelites, the lyrics of which include, ““The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he (Deuteronomy 32:4; ESV).” Moses also, in the psalm, warned against forsaking their rock: “But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation (vs. 15)… You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth (vs. 18).”
Both David and Moses, when writing about God as a Rock of salvation and security, were mindful of a particular practice of their day and age, which was the building of fortifications within and upon natural rock formations. The stone of the formations provided ready defense, and such stone formations were often elevated in height, providing an additional level of security. The thick stones of a hill or mountain could not be burned away, penetrated, or easily destroyed by a marauding army. There was safety in a well-fortified rock. Thus, in describing God as a Rock, God is being identified as a place of safety, well-fortified against attacks, indestructible, and able to weather the ages. God, the Bible is saying, is unchanging and will always be there to protect those who trust in Him.
For a rock to provide such security, it must be one’s dwelling place. A well-fortified position is no protection against danger if you are miles away from it when danger strikes. A place of safety is only of use if you are actually within the shelter of its walls. Thus, Moses’ warning about scoffing at the Rock, and growing complacent in times of peace.
It is good to know that in a world full of uncertainty, there is One in whom we can always find unchanging shelter. But God is only going to be that Rock for those who are trusting in Him day by day, and walking according to His law and His precepts. David could call God his Rock, because David was trusting in God at all times, not just when things were obviously dark. Can we make the same boast today, declaring God to be the Rock of our lives, or have we been unmindful of the one who made us and, in our complacency, wandered from His protection?
If you are looking to make God your Rock, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. If you have any questions or comments, please share them with us.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.