-by Pastor Ashley Brown
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’ (Isaiah 28:16)
The Foundation Stone
Over the years scholars have suggested any number of interpretations for the foundation or cornerstone of Isaiah 28:16. Ideas include the Law, the Temple, the Jewish people, Jerusalem itself, the Davidic king, faith in the LORD, and the Messiah. While Isaiah never states exactly what the “foundation” is, it is not unreasonable to think that Psalm 118 may have been on his mind.
Psalm 118 declares the steadfast love of the LORD, even when the nations surround God’s people. After all, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.” (vv. 8-9) This psalm perfectly fits the historical situation of Isaiah and the nation of Judah. And near the end (vv. 22-23), the psalmist points to a cornerstone, laid by the LORD. The LORD’s builds His temple on this stone, even though the builders reject it. Isaiah seems to borrow this imagery in his prophecies. In Isaiah 8:14 Isaiah speaks of the LORD’s stone that causes the nation of Israel to stumble. And here in Isaiah 28:16 he speaks of a cornerstone, laid by the LORD, that is the foundation for God’s people. Both of these images seem to flow from Psalm 118.
This is particularly helpful for our understanding because (in Matthew 21:42-44) Jesus says He is the stone of Psalm 118. So, these prophecies ultimately point to Him as the foundation of His unshakable Kingdom. By the way, Peter (1Pe. 2:6) and Paul (Rom. 9:33; 10:11) both pick up on this and echo Jesus’ statement and Isaiah’s words, declaring Jesus is the rejected cornerstone on which God’s Temple – the people of Jesus’ Kingdom – is built.
The Unshakable Kingdom
Isaiah 28:16 ends with the statement that whoever believes, “will not be in haste”. This curious phrase speaks of being fearful, ashamed, and fleeing destruction. Those who have faith and build their lives on the cornerstone God is laying will have a sure foundation that will stand in the Day of Judgment. They will not be sent scurrying when their world is shaken and sifted by the LORD.
I cannot help but be reminded of the unshakable Kingdom of Hebrews 12.
You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem… and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant… Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
I am also reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Bottom line: My life will not stand if I build it on anything other than Jesus, the cornerstone the LORD laid.
If this is the case, it seems important to assess my heart and life. Is my life built on the foundation of Jesus, or am I building on a different foundation? In order to evaluate myself I often turn to a style of questions David Powlison calls “X-Ray Questions”. I’ll raise some of them here for you to perform your own heart, self-assessment.
What do you most love?
What are you most passionate about having in life? Or, what do you typically daydream about? What defines “the good life” for you? Is there anything for which you think, “If I just had [ ], then I’d be happy”? Your answers to these questions point to what you most love.
What do you most obey?
What makes you lose your temper? Chances are you lose your temper because someone isn’t submitting themselves to what you think is most important in that situation. What are you most bitter about? What triggers times of depression for you? Or, what urges do you feel like you can’t control? These questions expose the things in our lives that control us.
What do you most trust?
This is the lifeline you cling to and try to maintain for your own well-being. It deals with what you think will make you safe and secure in life. What do you most trust to meet your future needs? Where do you run for comfort when things go badly? What do you worry most about losing or missing out on in life? What is the stuff of your nightmares, the thing you most fear? Your answers to these questions point to where you’re placing your trust in life.
Your answers to all of these questions are probably good things. My guess is that most of them are not necessarily false, idolatrous foundations in your life. However, you may be in danger of making them so! It is often the good, reasonable things that most entice us to build our life’s foundation upon them, rather than upon Jesus alone. He, and He alone, must be the foundation in which we have faith if we are to stand in the day of God’s judgment.