Because it is contained in scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: And he that believeth on him shall not be put to shame.
For you therefore that believe is the preciousness: but for such as disbelieve, The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner; and, A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence; for they stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.1 Peter 2:6-8 ASV
Behold I lay in Zion … Zion is the poetic name for Jerusalem.
The laying of this precious cornerstone in Zion for a foundation signifies that the Christian church, the new temple of God, was to begin in Jerusalem.
A chief corner stone … The type of stone meant here is not the kind usually called by that name today.
It was the stone at the extremity of the angle which controls the design of the edifice and is visible.
In the church, Christ is both the foundation stone (1 Corinthians 3:11) and the cornerstone.
CHRIST THE CORNERSTONE
In Christ, the Law of Moses ended; and the gospel began.
In Christ, the Old Testament culminated; and the New Testament began.
In Christ, all history split into B.C. and A.D.
In Christ, the wicked find their doom, and the saints find their salvation.
In Christ, the old Israel perished, and the new Israel began.
In Christ, the infinite past and the infinite future met.
In Christ, God and humanity came together.
In Christ, God’s humiliation and man’s glory united.
Elect, precious …
In this section of Isaiah, especially the 29th chapter which came in close connection with Peter’s quotation here, the destruction of Jerusalem is foretold and also the reprobacy of the Jewish leaders who changed the word of God by their traditions.
Peter’s quotation here is as much intended to show his Hebrew readers the sweeping away of the carnal Israel as to encourage them in their Christian allegiance.
These passages cited by Peter, especially in their Old Testament context, show that even while the Mosaic service was in force, the Lord was planning on another one and made predictions concerning it.
Scholars like to point out that Peter’s quotation of these passages is from neither the Hebrew nor the Septuagint (LXX) versions of the Old Testament, some supposing it to have been quoted from memory.
However, in our studies of the Pauline letters, it became clear that the inspired writers often combined Old Testament passages with their familiar phraseology to express new truth not always evident in the “quotations” cited in the Old Testament
And he that believeth on him shall not be put to shame … In view here is the eternal shame which attaches to the Jewish nation for the rejection of the Messiah, the shame being simply this:
The very Christ whom they contemptuously rejected was chosen by God to be the head of the new Israel; and the Father gave him “a name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9).
On the other hand, fidelity to Christ brings honor and glory to the believer, since he partakes of the honor and glory of Christ himself.
For you therefore that believe is the preciousness … All honors and benefits are denied to unbelievers. Only the Christian shares the joy of redemption in Christ Jesus.
The stone which the builders rejected, the same is made the head of the corner.
It should be pointed out that this famous line is founded upon an actual event.
In the building of Solomon’s temple, the first stone that came down from the quarry was very remarkably shaped, having been marked and cut at the quarry.
The builders of the temple did not know what to do with it, and it was dragged to a place apart and became finally hidden by debris and rubbish.
There were many providences in the building of the Jewish temple, despite the fact of its being a departure, really, from the will of God; just as there were also many wonderful providences and miracles connected with the secular kingdom, which also was not really the will of God; and surely, this incident of the rejected cornerstone must be one of such wonders.
It is the perfect illustration of how the “builders,” the Jewish hierarchy, rejected the true and only head of all holy religion.
Peter was fond of this illustration and told the Sadducees to their face that they were the “builders” who had rejected the chief corner stone (Acts 4:11).
In this passage, Peter extended the application to include all unbelievers as partakers of the same blame that pertained to the “builders.”
To you therefore who believe is this honor of being built on him, and of not being ashamed.
But to the disobedient is the dishonor written (Psalms 118:22): the stone which the builders rejected, the same has become the head of the corner of God’s temple.
A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence … Some have been puzzled by Peter’s putting these two passages from the Psalms and Isaiah together, exactly as Paul did in Romans, and have therefore supposed Peter’s dependence on Paul; but such a device is both erroneous and unnecessary.
Peter was present no doubt and heard the Lord Jesus Christ himself put the two passages together in exactly the same manner as here (Luke 20:17,18).
The particular application of “stumbling stone” as a figure of Christ is that of comparing him to a heavy stone blocking a path or road that people travel, resulting in their stumbling and falling.
Christ, as the aged Simeon prophesied, was “set for the falling and rising of many in Israel” (Luke 2:34).
People, through their pride, stumble at the lowly birth of the Saviour and at the humility of his followers, the stern morality of his teachings, and his sharp exposure of their sins.
For they stumble at the word, being disobedient … Peter does not mean that they stumbled at the preached word, but against Christ himself, one of whose titles is the Word (John 1:1).
When the proud hierarchy of the ancient Israel refused to believe in Christ, they thereby thrust themselves under the blanket indictment of all unbelievers; and they fell, as God had ordained and appointed all unbelievers to fall. The indictment still stands, and unbelievers still incur the wrath of God through their unbelief.