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How to Have a Rock-solid Foundation

November 1, 2011

Jesus ends the Sermon on the Mount with the parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders (Matthew 7:24-27): “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand.The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell – and great was its fall!”

Michael J. Wilkins comments:
The alluvial sand ringing the seashore on the Sea of Galilee was hard on the surface during the hot summer months. But a wise builder would not be fooled by such surface conditions. He would dig down sometimes 10 feet below the surface sand to the bedrock below, and there establish the foundation for his house. When the winter rains came, overflowing the banks of the Jordan River flowing into the sea, houses built on the alluvial sand surface would have an unstable foundation layer; but houses built on bedrock would be able to withstand the floods.

Another expositor adds a further angle:
The people there, listening to Jesus’ teaching, understood well the significance of building on the right foundation – on rock instead of sand. But very few people in ancient Palestine wanted to live in the rocks. It meant grading the side of a slope and hauling up materials. Living in the hills made for more difficult travel. Water had to be toted and winter winds were colder. Most people followed the path of least resistance and built along the riverbeds. The scenery was more pleasant, the water more conveniently located, and the house sheltered from the cold winds of winter. And though flooding was a danger, most of the year the streams trickled pleasantly down the hillsides into the river nearby.

But on rare occasions, perhaps only once a generation, the 100-year flood would come. There would be a combination of an unusually heavy snow, a quick spring thaw, a torrential downpour. The result was a vicious flashflood which swept away everything in its path. Entire hamlets washed away. House after house gone and great would be the fall.

Throughout the long day Jesus had been preaching to the vast multitude. They listened to him with amazement and awe. But Jesus warned them that that was not enough.

Jesus is not saying that if they don’t listen to him, God is going to punish them by sending rain, floods, and wind. This past week, we had to put up with the foolishness of the prediction of October 21 as Judgement Day. Some even looked on 2 small earthquakes in California on Oct. 20 as indicators that was about to take place. But note that in this passage the rain, floods, and wind happen to BOTH houses. This is not judgement, it is LIFE!

All of us go through floods and winds. Sometimes these are literal, like the earthquake in Turkey; the floods in Thailand (affecting the house of Judy Mattson’s brother); and Tropical Storm Rina in Mexico (which has stranded Ed & Louise Mullaney’s son). But all of us go through the storms of sickness, and the flood waters of death – of our loved ones, and ultimately our own. All of us go through times of shaking, where in a moment, everything seems to be crumbling around us, and we need to be connected to something that holds us fast. Jesus is saying that we need to have a foundation that can stand the challenges we all shall face simply by being human.

So, what Jesus said to the listeners 2,000 years ago, he is saying to us today. It is not enough to hear Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount, telling us that a life grounded in his teaching will withstand the storms of life. We need to act on what we are hearing, and accept Jesus’ invitation to be yoked together with him, and establish the very foundations of our being deep down in him. We do this by saying a simple “Yes” to the offer of relationship we have been given.

When we do this, we shall have the glorious assurance voiced in Romans 8 by the Apostle Paul that nothing in life or death – nothing in the entire universe – shall be able separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Our connection to Jesus will hold fast, and hold us fast, in all the shakings of life and death. He will give us the strength we need day by day (even moment by moment) to live and love – not becoming bitter or closing our hearts, but becoming more and more gentle, tender-hearted to others, because of what we have gone through, broken like an alabaster flask of perfume to release the aroma of life and hope for the world.

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed thousands of homes in South Florida. Yet in an area where the wreckage looked like a war zone, one house remained standing, still firmly anchored to its foundation. When a reporter asked the homeowner why his house had not been blown away, he replied, “I built this house myself. I also built it according to the Florida state building code. When the code called for 2 x 6 roof trusses, I used 2 x 6 roof trusses. I was told that a house built according to code could withstand a hurricane … and it did.”

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
fastened to the rock that cannot move, 
grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.

How unspeakably wonderful it is to walk with Our Lord, grounded in him and his love for now and for all eternity! Thanks be to God!

(Conclusion of sermon at 8:30 Service on October 30)

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