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Yeshua our Cornerstone

The sound of windchimes swaying in the breeze reminds me of a beautiful Hebrew worship song from the Torah, Psalm 118. This psalm begins and ends with the same refrain: "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting." I can picture a procession of grateful hearts winding through the streets of Jerusalem, slowly making their way up the hill to the Great Gate of the Temple. The sun softly embellishes the scene with a warm embrace. 

Historical evidence and scripture tell us that the song was sung alternately by the two halves of the procession. Verse 19 is the leader's statement, made on behalf of the entire group as they arrive before the gates: "Open to me the gates of righteousness; I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the LORD." Verse 20 is the response from those inside the Temple gates: "This is the gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter." Together, they join in songs of praise to the LORD God. The sacrifice takes place in verse 27. The Psalm concludes with resounding praise to God, just as it began: "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.”  The scene is a banquet of joy.

The city exudes a palpable excitement, and the sound of happiness reverberates everywhere. The people of God have a profound sense of identity and belonging, and this unity satisfies every soul. We can perceive this unity throughout history, even if it is only like a faint shadow of unbridled commitment. The story unfolds what once was and what will be again.  Believers in God can unite in brotherhood, regardless of time or distance, as we belong to the King of Glory.  Such joy in worship can be our portion today and until forever.

In Jewish tradition, those who do not follow the way of Jesus from Nazareth would explain in verse 22, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” to refer to Israel.  This reference applied to Abraham, David, and the Messiah. In the original Old Testament context, the rejected stone is considered Israel. She was small and despised, hated, and held in contempt by the Gentile nations. The builders are the empire builders of the day who enjoyed prominence and who sought to have extraordinary political success.

The Persian Empire was once a powerful presence in history. However, it did not consider the stone of captive Israel to be of any importance to its plans of world domination, and as a result, it rejected it. Israel, which was despised and considered insignificant by the political planners of the Eastern nations, was the stone they rejected. We believe Israel was chosen by God out of love for His eternal purpose. It was destined to be His nation and territory on the face of the earth. However, it's not just the physical place and people that are important, but also the spiritual adoption of those who make up the Kingdom of Heaven. We, the Kingdom of Yeshua, are the rejected stone by the world.

The ultimate goal of God for Israel is fulfilled through the work of only one person: the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The rejected stone mentioned in this Psalm refers to the Messiah and not the nation of Israel. Through God's providence, Israel serves as a foreshadowing of the Messiah. What is partially true of Israel is entirely true of the Messiah.

In Matthew 21:33–46, Jesus told the parable of the Landowner who planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine–growers and went on a journey. When harvest time came, the vine–growers association took the landowners' slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. He then sent a larger group of slaves to work his vineyards. They did the same things again. Then he sent his son, thinking, "They will respect my son." However, the vine growers took the heir and killed him. Jesus concluded His parable with these words from Psalm 118:22,

“The stone which the builders rejected became the chief cornerstone; this came about from the LORD, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

Psalm 118:22 became one of the passages most frequently quoted by early Christian teachers to describe Jesus, the crucified and risen Messiah, 's temporary humiliation and subsequent rejection.  For those who refuse to believe in Him, He is a stone of judgment that rolls over them. What we decide to do with Jesus determines our eternal destiny. He is either our savior or our supreme judge. We make the choice. There is no other.

Yeshua, Israel's rejected stone, has been exalted by God to the highest position possible and now sits at the Father's right hand in heaven. This stone has become Israel's and our salvation. This remarkable provision and gift accomplish the promise made in Genesis. Yeshua laid down His life for us, not because of our repentance, love, or allegiance but rather because of the Father's commitment to creation.

"This is the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23).

The good news is that Yeshua died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead. Christ died as our ransom. Romans 5:6–8 demonstrates God's love for us in Jesus' death.

"This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it."

He is the living stone who confronts men with the choice of refuge or a stone of judgment. Believe in Him today, and He will become your song of rejoicing in your soul.  We can dwell in His provision of new life, mindset, perspective, and priorities.  Indeed, the old is dead, and now we live.

Next time you're outside, feel the gentle breeze caress your face, let your soul hear the songs of praise on the streets of Jerusalem from the centuries past, and abide in the living Word of creation, the cornerstone of our faith.  Settle into the moment and stand on Truth.

By: Margarita Hart

March 2024

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