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Romans 9:30-33

Paul concludes chapter 9 with a very important why question, a simple answer to the question, and a powerful promise. “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame’” (Rom. 9:30-33). Paul is asking a very important question. Why did the Jews who sought righteousness not obtain it? Why did the Gentiles, who had no concept of the God of Israel, receive God’s righteousness?

We all ask God why something has occurred in our lives. Asking this question is important and it needs to be answered. Sometimes these answers are knowable and other times they are unknowable. What do I mean by unknowable? God has told us in His Word that certain things are secrets that only He knows. God told Moses, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29). However, here in our text, we have the clear answer to one of the great why questions posed in Scripture. Note the word because in verse 32. This word is used over 1,200 times in the Bible. It is a very common word that we all use daily to give specific reasons for why we have taken an action. When God uses this word because, you should take note of it, because He is about to give you the cause or reason for His actions. If you are to grow into a deeper love relationship with God, understanding His motives and the reasons for His actions are essential for you to grasp.

Paul first states the facts

Paul states the obvious, that God was saving tens of thousands of Gentiles through his ministry. Wherever Paul, Peter, John, Stephen, Philip, or the other apostles went, Gentiles were being saved and churches were established. It is interesting that the Gentiles were not even pursuing the God of Israel, but He was pursuing them, and they were responding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit upon their hearts.

At the same time, most Jews continued to reject the message that Jesus was their Messiah, even though they possessed a knowledge of God through the Scriptures. They knew the promises that the Messiah would come, but they failed to receive Him when He came. As the Scripture proclaimed concerning Jesus, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:11-12).  

What is God’s righteousness?

To fully understand this question that Paul poses, you must understand what is meant by the phrase that the Gentiles “have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith.” The righteousness of God is simply a right relationship with Him, that comes by faith, and by faith alone. However, the Jews did not attain this right relationship with God even though they sought it, which brings up the question of why.

Why did the Jewish people not attain to a right relationship with God?

The simple answer to this question is that the Jews sought righteousness through their own self effort and works. It’s that simple. They tried to be good enough for God thinking that He would be pleased with them. But their self-effort had the opposite effect. Understanding this truth should bring you to another obvious question. Why does God not accept man’s good works and self-effort? In addition, why does God only accept a person who comes to Him by faith? Do you understand why this is the case? When you talk to people about their need to surrender their hearts and believe in Jesus, people will often say, “But, I’m a good person. I have done good things for others. What's wrong with my good works? Why aren’t my good works good enough to get me into heaven?” How would you answer questions like these? I have found that this issue comes up all the time when I share the Gospel with people. When I tell them that they are sinners, that they have broken God’s law, and that they cannot be saved by good deeds, they respond, “I think God would be very lucky to have me in heaven with Him, because I've done a lot of nice things for Him, and for other people. What’s His problem with good works? I don't get it.”

Why won’t God accept my good deeds?

The simplest way to respond to this question is with an illustration. Ask them to think about the last conflict they had with a person where they have been deeply offended and hurt by that person. Ask them if they would accept the person who offended them, and if they would forgive this person, if they came up and started pleading all the good deeds they have done in the past? The person doesn’t confess their fault, and how they have offended you, but just gives you an account of all the good things they have done for you in the past. Would you accept the list of good deeds done for you, without hearing humility and a confession of how exactly they had offended you? I don’t think you would! You want to hear a confession and see a repentant heart for what they have done and how they have hurt you. Would you forgive them based on their list of good deeds? I don’t think so! You would say to yourself, “They don't get it. They don’t get the fact that they have offended me.” That’s exactly the way God looks at people who plead their good works to Him. He says, “They don't get it.” People will bring their good works up to God without ever acknowledging their sin and the sorrow of their heart for breaking God’s law. If you wouldn’t accept this kind of a non-confession of sin, neither will God. God wants people to see their need for repentance and forgiveness of sin. Once that occurs, then reconciliation will happen.

Do you see your need? 

The most important question you must ask yourself is, do I see my need for forgiveness, or do I think I can be good enough to get into heaven by my own good deeds? Do you think, “I’m not such a bad person? I’ve done a lot of good things for people. I have grown up in the church my entire life. I’ve helped people, given to the church, and served God in many ways.” If you think that, then you are pleading your own righteousness. Even true believers still plead their good works in prayer after they have become Christians. How do I know this to be true? People tell me in counseling that they are angry with God, because they aren’t getting their prayers answered and wonder why. They tell God “I don't understand why You are not answering my prayer. I have served you all my life, I have taught Sunday School; I have helped people in need; I’ve supported missionaries, so why aren’t you giving me what I’m asking You for?” However, this again is pleading your own righteousness, your own goodness, your own works, and the Lord will not respond to this kind of pleading.

Now, let me just show you this issue of seeing your need in Scripture. In Isaiah 64:1-8, the prophet declares, Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence -- As fire burns brushwood, as fire causes water to boil -- to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence! When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, the mountains shook at Your presence. For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him. You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned-- in these ways we continue; and we need to be saved. But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us, and have consumed us because of our iniquities. But now, O LORD, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.” Isaiah is here acknowledging his need and his people’s need before God. Notice how often he uses the word we in these eight verses. Isaiah is not only talking about the nation of Israel, but Isaiah is including himself. Why? Because he wants to see the Lord work and rend the heavens and come down, so people would see and experience God’s presence and be saved. Isaiah doesn’t plead his own righteousness or the people’s, just the opposite. He acknowledges his own sin and his people’s iniquity before God. He admits that no one is really stirring themselves up to take hold of the Lord in prayer. He confesses that all their righteousness is like filthy menstrual cloths, which is the literal rendering of the word rags. Isaiah is coming to God looking for mercy, not declaring his own good deeds. It’s interesting that in this text Isaiah calls God, “His Father.” This is why we call upon our God, “Our Father who art in heaven.” Isaiah sees his need and comes to his Father to seek His grace and mercy. 

You are either in a place where you see your need, or you are not. These are your only two options. You can’t be in the middle; you see your sin, or not. You are humbled before God that He would even want you, or you think you are the best catch He has ever made. Do you say to God as David did in Psalm 51:3, “I acknowledge my transgressions, my sin is always before me?” Do you realize that you can never do enough good deeds to outweigh the evil you think, speak, or do every day? I know what goes on inside you, because it goes on inside my heart and mind too. The evil deeds that you have in thought, in attitude, in word, and in deed are overwhelming every day. You can have hatred in your heart while you are smiling at someone and talking nicely to them at the same time. That is having a sinful attitude with a smile. God sees your heart and says, that’s hypocrisy. He sees your thoughts and motives and knows you like no one else. If you are honest with yourself you can never be arrogant.

Now some of you reading this right now are thinking, “Well then why should I try to do any good deeds if they are worthless?” That is not what I’m saying! Good deeds are always good to do. Just don’t come pleading your good deeds before God to gain some points with Him. You have all the points you need before God, who has already given the righteousness of Jesus Christ and has cleansed you from all your sin (1 John 1:9). When you come by faith to Him, in humility, confessing your sin, He imputes, or gives as a gift, the perfect righteousness of Christ to your account (Rom. 3:21-24). Once you realize you have been given this righteousness by faith, you cease working to obtain righteousness from God, because you believe you already have it. Then you work from a righteous standing with Him, simply to please Him.

Another great example of two totally different understandings of how to obtain God’s righteousness is found in Luke 18:10-14, where Jesus tells the parable of two men. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men--extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” This parable teaches exactly what I have been explaining to you. You are either a Pharisee in the way you come to God, or you are like the tax collector. You either plead your own goodness and good deeds, or because you know your own sin and wickedness of heart, you simply cry out for mercy. The results will always be the same. One person will leave their prayer time forgiven and justified before God, and the other will be as Jesus said of the Pharisee, only praying with himself. In other words, the Pharisee had no connection with God. What are you pleading when you pray to the Father?

Can a person pursue God in the wrong way?

It is interesting to note that in the parable of the two men that I just mentioned, both men were seeking God, but only one man had real communion with God and received from Him. Why? The reason is because a person can seek and pursue God in the wrong way. This is exactly Paul’s point here in Romans 9. The Jews pursued righteousness, but they pursued it in the wrong way. They sought to gain and achieve God’s righteousness by works. The Gentiles received God’s righteousness by faith, when it was presented to them through the preaching of the Gospel. God accepted the Gentiles and rejected the Jewish attempt. Therefore, it is a true statement that a person can pursue God, but in the wrong way. 

In reality, this is also what sums up the difference between Christianity and all other religious systems in this world. You hear people say so often, “I believe all religions lead to God, because all religions are basically the same.” Yet in fact all religions are not the same, nor do they all lead to God. Why do I say this? All religions, other than Christianity, are simply systems of works and good deeds that you are required to accomplish in order for you to enter Heaven or nirvana. In fact, nirvana is not even close to the definition of Heaven according to the Bible. Nirvana, according to Buddhist and Hindu teaching, is the highest state of enlightenment where a person’s individual desires and suffering disappear. Each of the religions of the world have different beliefs about who Jesus Christ is, which naturally reveals the fact that all religions are not the same. Jesus said that unless you believe something very specific about Him, you will die in your sins. In John 8:24, He said, “If you do not believe that I am …, you will die in your sins.” The term “I Am” refers to the name of the eternal God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3:14-15. But, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Taoists, and every other religion in the world do not believe that Jesus is the eternal God. They believe Him to be just a man, a prophet, or an important guru. Likewise, all religions of the world believe that you must perform certain rituals, obey certain commandments of their prophet, or some system of works to achieve a good outcoming after death. However, Jesus and the Gospel that He preached reveal that all a man or woman must do is to repent of any known sin and believe in Him (Mark 1:15). Jesus wants you to come to Him as the tax collector did, crying out for His mercy, and doing that because you are putting your faith in Him.

Are you pursuing God the right way? In Proverbs 16:25 God declares, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” This was the error of the Pharisees and the error of all religious systems in this world today. Don’t pursue God in the way that seems right to you. Pursue Him according to what Jesus said. You can never go wrong doing that!

Why does God only accept faith?  Three reasons!

Why is faith the only way you can approach God, and the only way you can receive righteousness from Him?  Let me give you three very simple reasons why I am completely sure that faith is the only thing God accepts. These should bring you assurance once and for all.

(1) The example given by God from the beginning of time and throughout Bible history.

In the first book of the Bible, Abram who is the father of the faithful, only pleased God and received a righteous standing before God by faith. In Genesis 15:6, the Bible declares of this man, “He believed in the Lord and He [referring to God] accounted it to him for righteousness.” This man believed in God, and he was declared righteous. He didn’t obtain the righteousness of God by his efforts or good deeds, but by his faith. In Exodus 4:1-5, God told Moses to go and speak to the people. The Lord explains the purpose He intended in verse 5. God says, “That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” Then God declared what He wanted; it was that the people might believe that He had sent Moses to them. God wanted the people to believe that He wanted to deliver them. The ultimate thing God wanted was that the people would believe! Later in Jewish history in Habakkuk 2:4, God told the prophet that He didn’t want proud people, but people who believed. God said, “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.” From the beginning of the Old Testament to the end, God was declaring that He wanted people’s faith, not their good works.

In the New Testament the message is the same. The very first thing Jesus taught when He began His ministry was to tell people, “Repent, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Jesus is in effect saying, “I want you to turn from your sins, and believe that I have paid for them. Put your faith in Me and what I have done for you.” That’s the simplicity of the gospel message. 

(2) The second reason why God will only accept faith, is because faith requires the heart to be surrendered and given to God. Paul taught in Romans 10:10, “With the heart man believes to righteousness.” This is what the Lord wants. He wants my heart and yours. The heart is the deepest part of man’s soul, the real you. He doesn’t want my external actions and deeds, as if I'm trying to prove to Him that I'm really a good person. He knows that I’m not a good person. But He wants me to admit that I know I'm not a good person, come to Him by faith, and give Him my heart. 

(3) The third reason why God only accepts faith is because faith is the ultimate obedience of the heart. Faith will always motivate a person to obedience to the command that God has given. Remember Mark 1:15? There is the command to, “Repent and believe the gospel.” When you obey the command to repent, you are choosing to believe that Jesus has the right to command you. In addition, believing is giving your heart to Him. Romans 1:5, is where our study in this epistle began, Paul said, “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name.” Notice the phrase, obedience to the faith. Note the definition of faith given in this verse. Faith is the choice of the heart to obey. You are choosing to obey His command and trust Him. You are giving Him your heart, and surrendering to Him. Therefore, understand why this is God’s reasoning. He doesn’t accept good works because they are self-exalting, trying to show Him what a good person you are. When you come to Him in obedience of faith, He accepts you because you are giving Him what He wants. You are giving Him your heart and soul.

The answer to Paul’s question of why the Jewish people did not attain to a right relationship with God, is that they did not seek a relationship with Him by faith. Paul explained, “Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame’” (Rom. 9:32-33). This is the simple answer to this profound question.

Why would God make faith a stumbling stone?

Another equally important question results from these verses. If the Jewish people stumbled at the stumbling stone of faith, you wonder why God would ever stumble someone with faith? People think, Doesn’t God want people to believe in Him? By thinking this way you would be misunderstanding this passage. You need to remember that verse 32 says they stumbled, “Because they did not seek it by faith,” which is the critical phrase. They did not seek relationship with God by faith, therefore, faith became the stumbling stone. If a person misses this very important point, they fail to see what is causing the stumbling. God did not stumble them, they stumbled themselves over a basic point of truth.

Even more important is the issue of unbelief itself. Unbelief is not the only stumbling stone, but unbelief in the Stone that God has laid in Zion is the real problem. Note in verse 33 that the Stone refers to a “Him.” “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Who is this Stone that must be trusted? He is the Rock of our salvation and the Stone of Israel. Jacob described Joseph as one who found his strength in the Mighty God of Jacob and the Stone of Israel in Gen. 49:24. But his bow remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel).” Do you see the point Paul is making? Prophetically, the Stone is Jesus Christ. He is the Shepherd, the Great Shepherd of the sheep.    

It is important to see this Stone of Israel, the Messiah, as the same stone that you see in the famous prophesy in Daniel chapter 2. Remember Daniel saw a great image with a head of gold, shoulders and arms of silver, and stomach and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet made of iron mixed with clay. God interprets this image as all of the great empires of man. God revealed that Babylon was the head of gold, the Medo-Persian empire the shoulders and arms of silver, the Grecian empire the stomach of brass, the Roman empire the two legs of iron, and a final empire of a future ten nation confederation the feet of iron and clay mixture. Then Daniel saw a great stone come and strike the image in its feet, and it broke all of these kingdoms to pieces and consumed them (Dan. 2:34; 44). This Stone then became a mighty kingdom that would fill the whole earth, and would stand forever and ever. One day the fulfillment of this prophecy will occur when the King of Kings will bring His millennial kingdom to this world. Scripture declares that “The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever more” (Rev. 11:15). So, remember that Jesus is the Stone that the builders rejected. They chose not to believe in Him. By their unbelief they stumbled over Him. Don’t let that happen to you. Put your faith in Him, and become His disciple! 

The Apostle Peter also quotes these same verses concerning Jesus being this stone of stumbling in 1 Peter 2:4-8. This quotation also makes it clear that this Stone of Israel is Jesus Christ. Peter said that we are, “Coming to Him as a living stone,” not just some piece of rock, but to a living stone. This is such a powerful metaphor. You build your house and your spiritual life on this rock. The storms will come, the rains will beat on that house, and it will not fall. Why? Because you are coming every day to the living Stone in which you trust. He was rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious. We also, “As living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Then Peter says, “Therefore, it is also contained in the Scripture.” Notice that very important phrase. In other words, Peter wants you to know that he hasn’t quoted the Scripture here word for word, he has just given you the essential meaning of it. Then he quotes the same verses that Paul did here in Romans. “Behold I lay in Zion the chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame. Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious, but to those who are disobedient, 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,' and 'A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’” Peter declares that people stumble being “disobedient to the word.” Why did they stumble? They were disobedient to the word. What word? They were disobedient to the command to believe. That was the word given to them in the Old and New Testaments. Paul and Peter’s messages are exactly the same. Men refuse to believe; therefore, they stumble before the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who calls them to believe! 

Who is responsible for the Jews stumbling?

Is God responsible for the Jews stumbling, or are the Jews themselves responsible? The answer is found in verse 32. There Paul says, “For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.” Note the word “They.” Paul used this word to refer to the Jews. They are the ones responsible for stumbling. God is saying, “I didn't stumble them. No, they stumbled by the decisions they made. They stumbled by their disobedience to My Word.” This is a very critical and important issue to understand. Why? Because extreme Calvinists erroneously declare, “God elects and chooses some people to believe, and some people to go to hell.” However, this text in Romans makes it clear that this is not a biblical concept. In addition, notice at the end of verse 33 what Paul quotes from the Old Testament, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” The word “Whoever” is essential in understanding that God “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). If God says whoever, He means whoever. Whoever believes in Him will never be turned away! God doesn’t exclude anyone from His Kingdom. The only person who can’t enter the kingdom is the man or woman who chooses to be disobedient to God, and rejects His command to repent and believe.

Another important point is to realize that you can’t just believe in anything or anyone and please God. You must believe in God the Father, whose name is Yahweh, and the Son whom the Father sent to represent and reveal Himself. How can Jesus fully represent and reveal the Father? Because Jesus is one with the Father. That’s who I believe, because that is what God commands me to believe (John 14:1; John 10:30; John 10:38; John 14:10-11; John 17:21). I must believe in the God of Israel, and in Jesus Christ the Messiah He sent.

Some say, “I can’t believe in something or someone I can’t see!” My answer is that everyone in the world believes in things they can’t see or understand. I don’t understand nor can I see electricity, but I believe it exists, because I can feel it when I touch metal to an electrical outlet. I can’t see the air, but I know there are air currents when I feel a breeze. Everyone believes something. Even atheists believe. They believe that there is no God. They believe in themselves, and that they are the center of everything. Atheists don’t believe in a Creator, but they believe in evolution. No one can live in the world and not live by faith in something. You have to trust with every decision you make in life. When you open a cereal box in the morning, you must trust that the person who processed your food did not put poison in it. That is why you eat it without a second thought. You eat meat that is processed and packaged in a place you have never been, by people you don’t know, believing it is safe to eat. You drive down the street believing by faith, that someone who is going the opposite direction three or four feet away, is not going to come over into your lane. You travel at high speeds completely trusting with every mile you drive. Do you see that everyone walks and lives by faith? The only difference is the object of my faith. I choose the object of my faith to be the Chief Cornerstone, the Stone of Israel, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Others put their faith in themselves or their good works to make them acceptable to God. Some believe in a famous guru. Others trust in religious ceremony or ritual. The question is, in who do you put your faith? Who is the object of your faith? Everyone believes something or someone, but is the object of your faith the true and living God?    

Who did Jesus believe the Stone of Israel to be?

It is interesting that Jesus quoted the same Old Testament passages that Peter and Paul did, and He referred these Scriptures to Himself. In Matthew 21:42-45, Jesus said to the chief priests, Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’S doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?’ Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder. Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them.Jesus is declaring that this prophecy quoted from Psalm 118 refers to Himself and declares how people will respond to Him. Jesus quotes these passages to reveal that He knows that the religious leaders will reject Him. He also warns them that the result of their rejection will be that the kingdom will be taken from them and will be given to other nations. He is talking about all of the blessings that He has promised to the Jewish people, that these will be given to the Gentile people and nations, because they will believe in Him. 

Jesus illustrated this by the Parable of the two sons, which He had just taught prior to quoting Psalm 118. Remember, Jesus explained in this parable that a man had two sons. The father sent both of his sons into the field to work. The first said to him, “I will not go to work,” but later he regretted his refusal and went to work in the vineyard. The second son said, “I will go, but then didn’t go to work as he had promised. Jesus then asked, “Which of the two sons did his father’s will?” They responded, “the first son, because he repented and went to work in the field. The first son was the one who obeyed the command of his father. Then Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him” (Matt.21:31-33). What was the point of this parable? What did the father want from these two sons? He simply wanted them do what he asked of them. What was Jesus asking of those He preached to? To repent and believe the Gospel. But only sinners like harlots and tax collectors actually did what He commanded, and they believed in Him. These were the disobedient sons and daughters who had turned from their sin to believe and follow Jesus. These were in effect the son in the parable that at first refused to obey, but then later repented and obeyed. If you are following Him today, then you are included with these harlots and tax collectors in this story. We have seen our sin, and we have turned from it, because we believe in Him. If you are reading this and you have not put your faith in Jesus and received Him, do so right now. If you confess your sin, He will forgive you and receive you into His Kingdom (1 John 1:9). 

A sanctuary or a stumbling stone

The last thing in this passage which Paul quotes in Romans 9:33, are two Scriptures from the Old Testament that are quoted as one. He does this for a very good reason, because these two verses reveal the warning and the promise regarding the Stone of Israel. Referring to the Messiah, God declares this promise and warning. “He will be as a sanctuary, But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Is. 8:14). Also, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily” (Is. 28:16). To one person He becomes a stumbling stone because of their unbelief and disobedience. But, to another He is a precious cornerstone and a sanctuary to the one who believes. What a promise is made to those who believe! He can become the chief cornerstone and the foundation of your life. He also is promised to be a sanctuary to those who believe. If you trust in Him, He will become a refuge and shelter to you in the midst of the storm of this life. Or, He can become a rock of offense that is stumbled over. Which do you want? If a person asks me, “But, how can I know whether I will stumble over Him, or find Him as my precious cornerstone and sanctuary?” It all is determined by whether or not you believe in Him! Whoever believes will not be put to shame, or act hastily. The phrase, “Act hastily” is quoted from the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures and means, to flee hastily in shame. If you believe in Him, you will find your feet squarely and securely planted on the Rock of Christ, the Chief Cornerstone, and He will become a sanctuary for you. One day, when you stand before the King of Kings, you will be honored by Him because you have simply trusted in Him and did not flee hastily from Him in unbelief. He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant… enter in to the joy of your Lord” (Matt. 25:21). Whoever trusts in Him, will not stumble over the stumbling stone. This is the key. Your destiny is determined by your response to Jesus. This is why the Jews missed God’s blessing. This is why the Gentiles received His blessings. I hope that you will trust and receive Him today!