“The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just;” Deuteronomy 32:4 NASB
Rock – The Hebrew word sur is used 75 times in the Old Testament. Many of those uses are metaphorical. Here, God is likened to a rock. The attributes of God described by this term are compelling and comforting to every believer. He is absolutely reliable, completely trustworthy and an unfailing source of strength. God is completely upright (Deut. 32:4), He is the source of salvation (Ps. 89:26), He is a strong refuge in times of trouble (Ps. 94:22), He is a help and a protector (2 Sam. 22:32), He will either break us in repentance or crush us in judgment (Rom. 9:32ff.). When we consider how often God’s followers sinned by worshiping an idol carved from rock, it is amazing that the same word is used to describe many of the most important characteristics of God.
Rocks are one of the most common objects of our world. From pebbles to boulders, we are continually confronted by their beauty, majesty and strength. They can be the foundation of our edifices or the biggest roadblocks to our efforts. Moses exclaims that God is The Rock because everything that He does is perfect and just. Yeshua reminded us that unless we build on a foundation of rock, our lives would fail. Peter tells us that God is building a house of living stones. David proclaims that God is the rock of his salvation. And Paul tells us that Christ is a rock of offense. Rock is an important spiritual metaphor.
Given the predominance of physical metaphors in the Scriptures, it’s hard to imagine how we ended up with a God whose principle attributes are abstractions like omnipotent, eternal, infinite or immutable. I rather doubt that any of the prophets would describe God like this. The journey from The Rock to the First Principle of Causation (Aquinas) is a long and torturous road of commingling Greek philosophy with sacred texts. The theology sounds majestic (probably because we aren’t quite sure what it means) but it removes God from the everyday world of our lives. Hebrew points in another direction. Prayer is like breathing. The Spirit is like flowing water. Sin is like disease. Idolatry is like adultery. God is like rock. Perhaps Moses’ exclamation will help you recognize that the hand of divinity is as close as the nearest stone. Did you notice that Moses’ describes justice as whatever God does? That’s a bit backwards too. Our Greek minds teach us that justice is the exercise of certain principles of goodness, but Hebrew thinks differently. Maybe we need some further revisions here too.
As you journey through this day, keep an eye out for rocks. Every time you see one, take the liberty to say with Moses – “God is The Rock. His work is perfect.” You can stand on that!
Topical Index: rock, sur, Deuteronomy 32:4