As one studies the Holy Scriptures one begins to realize that besides being the Creator, the consummate scientist and engineer, God is also a superlative poet. He seems to revel in the use of poetic devices such as allegory, imagery, foreshadowing, hyperbole, figurative language, simile, symbols, repetition, and paradox. One example, and one of the best known, is His use of the words "stone" and "rock."
The first mention of this symbolic language is found in Exodus 17:6:
Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
In Deuteronomy 32:4 Moses himself explains clearly what the Rock symbolizes:
He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he (Deuteronomy 32:4).
But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation (Deuteronomy 32:15).
Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee (Deuteronomy 32:18).
Interestingly, however, the word rock (lower case in the KJV) is also used in reference to the gods, i.e. Satan and his fallen angels (dragons, asps):
For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges. For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter: their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps (Deuteronomy 32:33).
And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted (Deuteronomy 32:37).
A rock, therefore, is something that one can trust for security. The meaning is clear: we can put our trust in God or in Satan. But often we are putting our trust in Satan without realizing it. As we continue, we will find that this is true, but that God has also provided a solution to this problem.
The Hebrew words used in these verses in the Old Testament convey the sense that a rock offers strength, security, refuge, safety. A rock means:
sela‛: to be lofty; a craggy rock, literally or figuratively (a fortress): (ragged) rock, stone (-ny), strong hold.
tsûr tsûr: properly a cliff (or sharp rock, as compressed); generally a rock or boulder; figuratively a refuge; also an edge (as precipitous): edge, (mighty) God (one), rock, sharp, stone, strength, strong.
David confirms the meaning of the symbolism in 2 Samuel 22:2-3:
And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence (2 Samuel 22:2-3).
The Psalms are also filled with this "rock" imagery:
For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock (Psalm 27:5).
O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation (Psalms 95:1).
Thus, a rock represents a place of refuge, which only the true God can provide. The gods and their teachings and doctrines, though offering refuge, are no true safe haven. In fact, it is from their doctrine that we must be saved.
Jesus also used the imagery of the rock at the end of His Sermon on the Mount (the law given again on a mountain—another fascinating symbol). In this sermon He expounded and explained the meaning of the law given at Sinai. First, He interpreted it anew, in terms of the "spirit of the law:"
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12).
Then Jesus warned us against falling prey to deception. He gives the only solution to this recurring problem—falling prey to Satan's deceptions—which the human race has faced since the beginning in the Garden (the serpent deceives the whole world, Revelation 12:9):
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:13-14).
The "strait gate" is the solution to Satan's deception. It is the gate, the "door" that leads to life. Jesus explains this again in John 10:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd (John 10:1-16).
The strait gate is strait because it leads to only one person: to Jesus Christ. He is the gate, the door to truth, to life, to God. Everything in the world outside of the Jesus' teachings, life, and death and resurrection, and specially His high priestly work being done in the Most Holy Place at this time, leads to death and destruction. The gate that leads to destruction is wide; it encompasses everything that is not of or from Jesus Christ. Every theology, every teaching, every spiritual practice, every tradition, every human wisdom, every moral path, and every politically correct view that is not in harmony with Jesus is a lie and leads to death. If we want the real truth straight from the throne room of God, the strait gate is the only and easy way to find it: it is Jesus.
Why this emphasis on Jesus and Jesus only? Because Jesus is the only safe haven from the lies of the deceiver who accuses us before God day and night (Revelation 12:10). Because He is the only True Witness of who God really is (Revelation 3:14). Only Jesus has a message of salvation, of life, of non-condemnation,non-accusation, of forgiveness, of full acceptance and grace. Jesus brought this message to us directly from God. If we listen to Him and His teachings, He turns us away from Satan's lies about God, lies that lead us away from God, to death. Solomon says:
A true witness delivers souls, but a deceitful witness speaks lies. In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death (Proverbs 14:25-27).
After pointing to Himself as the gate that leads to life, then Jesus goes on to show us how to discern between the true and the false witnesses:
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them (Matthew 7:15-20).
False prophets may appear virtuous and righteous—they appear to be sheep on the outside, but inside are really ferocious beasts—violent creatures. In spite of outward appearances, their message is really a message of death and destruction. Their fruit is corrupt, that is, they teach a mixture—they mix good with evil. They do not let go of the lies of the tempter, lies which have kept the entire human race in bondage from the very beginning:
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).
Yes, the first lie is that they wouldn't die if they ate of the fruit. But the second lie is even more damaging, and is "the" lie that causes death: that God Himself knows good and evil in the sense that He IS good and evil.
The true message which Jesus came to bring us about God is that He is pure. John says:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:1-5).
Jesus came to give the message there is no mixture of light and darkness in God, no corruption in character "at all." God brings forth only "good" fruit. He is the un-corrupted tree, the tree of life, which represents His single character of love. No duality taints God's character, He is no Jekyll and Hyde, no Yin and Yang.
The deception that God has a mixed character—that He is a God of "good and evil," i.e. a God of reward and punishment—runs deep in every human heart, but it runs especially deep in the minds of the people of God. It runs especially deep in those of us who have a heart for God, who want to do His will, who want to know Him and glorify Him. If we listen to Jesus' words carefully, He is speaking directly to us, His professed believers:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23).
Many who call Jesus "Lord" are doing "wonderful works" in His name—they are His professed people. They are prophesying and even "casting out devils," or at least appearing to be casting out devils. Jesus doesn't know these workers of iniquity precisely because they are workers of iniquity, and the Scriptures are very clear: Jesus hates iniquity.
Why does Jesus hate iniquity? Because iniquity is the Devil's key signature. It is his trump card. It is how he deceives the whole human race. Iniquity is the one thing that Satan used in order to go against God in the beginning of his rebellion—it is the core of his rebellion. Iniquity is what turned him from being "perfect," pure light like God (the Hebrew word for "perfect" is tamiyn which means entire—he was entirely light). Once iniquity was found in him he was no longer entire—he was divided, having part light part darkness just like the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden. And iniquity is the one precise thing that made him sin and become violent. Iniquity is what made him into "a murderer from the beginning:"
Read carefully the following verses which describe the beginning Jesus was talking about:
Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee (Ezekiel 28:15-18).
Iniquity was "found in" Lucifer. This is a mystery—the mystery of iniquity. How was iniquity found in a perfect being, who used to walk in "the midst of the stones of fire?" We have explained this word "iniquity" in some detail in the book God on Trial: Have We Been Lied To? Is God a Killer? and also why he rebelled against God. But the connection here is clear: Jesus doesn't know those who are workers of iniquity. The works they do—those "wonderful works"—are not really the works of God. To them they are "wonderful works," but to God they are an abomination because they are tainted with the iniquity that had its beginning in the mind of Lucifer—the same "iniquity" that Jesus hates.
So then, what about the devils these workers cast out—are they truly devils? Can the devil truly cast out devils? Perhaps in an outward way, for show, yes, but not in truth. The workers of iniquity think they are casting out devils, but could it be that what they are casting out is really are the true followers of Jesus? Why do we say such a seemingly preposterous thing?
If we think back to the past, it is the same now as it was then. Just as it was in Jesus' days, the workers of iniquity class Jesus' true followers as the followers of Beelzebub; after all, didn't they call Jesus Beelzebub, and say that He was casting devils by Beelzebub? They did cast Him out—they hung Him on a tree, the worst thing you could to a person. Hanging on a tree signified that the curse of God was upon you. Thus it is today; these workers of iniquity are casting out so called demons, who are really the followers of the Lamb. The pharisees called Jesus a devil and they cast Him out. Saul, when he was persecuting the early church, thought he was casting out devils, but in essence he was destroying God's true followers. Thus Jesus says to them: "I never knew you, ye that work iniquity."
Notice again Ezekiel's description of Lucifer's original sin:
By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire (Ezekiel 28:16).
Since Lucifer's merchandise was iniquity (Ezekiel 28:18) and since iniquity filled him, all of him, from inside out, with violence...therefore...he was cast "as profane out of the mountain of God."
Because Lucifer was filled with violence he no longer could be in the "mountain" of God, that place where the law is given. Lucifer no longer lived by the non-violent principles of the law of God, he excluded himself from the principles of God by rejecting them. He created a trap for himself from which there was no escape. He painted himself in a corner because he rejected the loving ways of the life Giver. As a result God says to him: "I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire."
But the word "destroy" here really means that he would wander away from "the stones of fire." Notice the Hebrew meaning of the word "destroy:"
'âbad: properly to wander away, that is lose oneself; by implication to perish (causatively, destroy): - break, destroy (-uction), + not escape, fail, lose, (cause to, make) perish, spend, be undone, utterly, be void of, have no way to flee.
Lucifer wandered away from the "stones of fire." These stones ring a bell and definitely have a connection to the Rock. In various places in the Scriptures Jesus is portrayed as the cornerstone, and His followers as "lively stones:"
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).
Lucifer was cast away from the "stones of fire," that is, he parted company with the holy, un-fallen angels. The angels that remained loyal to God and His principles are called "stones of fire" because together they were a "habitation of God through the Spirit." They had the same law in their hearts as God. As "lively stones" they built a "holy temple in the Lord."
In our earthly sphere we are supposed to heap "coals of fire" upon our enemies by doing good to them—by living by God's law of agape love as Jesus taught us:
If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee (Proverbs 25:21-22).
We are not to reward and punish our enemies. We are to love them as we love our friends and family. This is the essence of what Jesus taught, because it is the essence of who God is. And so, to the effect that we don't make the mistake of following Satan's lies preached through false prophets who teach good and evil (no matter what source) Jesus says to us:
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:24-27).
The wise man builds his house—his whole understanding of God, his character based on his knowledge of God—solely upon the Rock Jesus Christ. So that when the rain—the latter rain which is already falling upon us—comes down and incites persecution—the floods [And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:16-17)], and when the winds blow [And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree (Revelation 7:1)], causing utter destruction upon the world, that wise man did not fall because he had built his house upon Jesus Christ.
Isaiah describes the end-time destruction scenario and how the foolish man which built his house upon the sand will react when the rains, the floods, and the winds beat upon his house. And he admonishes us to make the Rock our fear—that we honour and heed His warnings—so that we are not driven in to darkness:
Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward. And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness (Isaiah 8:13-22).
Those who have not made Jesus their sole source of knowledge and wisdom will look the earth and see only trouble, darkness and anguish. Because they don't know God's pure character, they will think that these disasters coming upon the world are punishments from God. They will not credit the work of destruction to him who is truly responsible for it—Satan the Destroyer (Revelation 9:11). Thus they will look upward and they will curse "their king and their God." "And they shall be driven to darkness."