The Stone of Bethel

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 12
“And this stone, said Jacob, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house” (Gen. 28:2222And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee. (Genesis 28:22)). At first glance, what a crude and poverty-stricken thought this appears! Certainly David’s idea of what was suitable for the house of God was a great advance upon it; the contribution towards its construction which he “prepared in his trouble,” amounted to 5,000 tons of gold and 50,000 tons of silver, besides brass, iron, timber, stone, etc. “without weight” (1 Chron. 22:1414Now, behold, in my trouble I have prepared for the house of the Lord an hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver; and of brass and iron without weight; for it is in abundance: timber also and stone have I prepared; and thou mayest add thereto. (1 Chronicles 22:14)). And as Jacob’s single stone is, compared with the splendor, magnificence and solemn grandeur of Solomon’s temple, so also is that temple itself, or the highest of human conceptions, to what is ultimately disclosed as the true and eternal house of God.
Yet for all this Jacob’s thought is correct, for was not this stone — which had been his pillow of rest, and was now his pillar of witness — Christ Himself? And whether the possessor’s thought of Him is meager or otherwise, yet possessing Him, he has all “the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:2323Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:23)). And every disciple has this, whether he knows it or not; but eyes anointed by the Spirit are required to perceive it.
Stone Cut Out Without Hands
Daniel speaks of the stone cut out without hands, which falls on the feet of the image, destroying and replacing it. The “man of the earth” beginning with the golden head, the Babylonish rule, and deteriorating downwards through the silver chest and two-armed Medo-Persian dynasty, thence through the brass stage of the Greek rule, reaches the iron or Roman age, which, dividing into two legs, finally arrives at its present condition, subdivided into ten toes (kingdoms). The stone falls on the feet (that is, the Ancient of Days descends in judgment at this final stage) and “fills the whole earth.”
The Sacred Stone of Islam
The Caaba, or sacred stone of Islam, is black, for legend says that though it came from heaven, clear as crystal, the lips of sinners have so often pressed against it that it has thus become changed. How different is that conception of a stone from what the Holy Word discloses — the nature of One who could touch the leper without defilement. The Caaba touching a sinner contracts his pollution, but the Living Stone, touching a sinner, is not defiled.
And not only this, but when we believe on Him, He so conveys His own nature and characteristics that the Holy Spirit can say that “As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:1717Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. (1 John 4:17)). Therefore we are called Living Stones, and dispensationally all that is true of Christ is true of us. Hence, when the ark passed through Jordan, twelve stones, representing the people of God, are placed in the bed of the river, and twelve taken out of Jordan and placed in the Promised Land. We are thus seen as raised up together and made to sit “together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:66And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:6)). The term “living stone” is a very peculiar one, for nothing is so “dead as a stone”: it gives us the idea of the immutability of the stone combined with the vitality and energy of the higher natures. Elijah carried forward the idea when he built an altar of twelve stones on Carmel, and the special interest there is that, though the tribes were divided and that there were no longer twelve, yet he still represents them — as God sees them and as faith apprehends them — “complete in Him.”
J. C. Bayley (adapted)