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“The Rock” in Scripture

Posted by Tony Listi on August 11, 2008

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus designates Peter as “the Rock” upon which he will build His Church. Protestants, so reverent of Scripture in all other cases, seem to blithely dismiss this title of Peter as of little significance.

But what exactly does the word “rock” mean in a Jewish/Scriptural context? After careful Scriptural study, Protestants might want to think twice before ignoring the preeminent authority that Scripture confers upon Peter. For in Scripture, “the Rock” is identified with shelter/refuge, strength, security, the foundation of an altar to God, the place of sacrifice to God, a stumbling block to the stubborn and disobedient, life-giving water (foreshadowing baptism?), the source of life and existence, salvation, the divine, Yahweh Himself, and Christ Himself.

“Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.”
-Exodus 17:6 (KJV)

“Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.”
– Numbers 20:8

“And he looked on the Kenites, and took up his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwellingplace, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock.”
-Numbers 24:21

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”
-Deut 32:4

“How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up? For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.”
-Deut 32:30-31

“And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted….”
-Deut 32:37

“But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.”
-Deut 32:15

“Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.”
-Deut 32:18

“And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.”
-Judges 6:26

“So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the LORD: and the angel did wonderously; and Manoah and his wife looked on.”
-Judges 13:19

“And they turned and fled toward the wilderness unto the rock of Rimmon: and they gleaned of them in the highways five thousand men; and pursued hard after them unto Gidom, and slew two thousand men of them.”
-Judges 20:45

“There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.”
-1 Sam 2:2

“And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.”
-2 Sam 22:2-3

“For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?”
-2 Sam 22:32

“The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.”
-2 Sam 22:47

“The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.”
-2 Sam 23:3

“And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them.”
-Nehemiah 9:15

“They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter.”
-Job 24:8

“Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place.”
-Job 39:28

“The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”
-Psalm 18:2

“For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?”
-Psalm 18:31

“The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.”
-Psalm 18:46

“For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.”
-Psalm 27:5

“Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.”
-Psalm 28:1

“Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me. For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.”
-Psalm 31:2-3

“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.”
-Psalm 40:2

“I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
-Psalm 42:9

“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
-Psalm 61:2

“He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.”
-Psalm 62:2 & 6

“In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.”
-Psalm 62:7

“Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.”
-Psalm 71:3

“He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.”
-Psalm 78:16

“Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?”
-Psalm 78:20

“And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.”
-Psalm 78:35

“He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.”
-Psalm 89:26

“To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”
-Psalm 92:15

“But the LORD is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.”
-Psalm 94:22

“O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.”
-Psalm 95:1

“He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river.”
-Psalm 105:41

“Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty.”
-Isaiah 2:10

“Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips….”
-Isaiah 17:10

“And they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out.”
-Isaiah 48:21

“Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.”
-Isaiah 51:1

“O ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities, and dwell in the rock, and be like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole’s mouth.”
-Jeremiah 48:28

What else does the Gospel of Matthew say about rocks?

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”
-Mt 7:24-25

What else does the New Testament say?

“He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.”
-Luke 6:48

“And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”
– 1 Cor 10:4

“And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.”
-1 Pet 2:8

Search Bible Gateway for yourself: http://www.biblegateway.com

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