“ROCK OF AGES”
“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5 NIV).
The hymn "Rock of Ages" is one of the best known and best loved hymns. Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778), an Anglican Church clergyman, composed it. The hymn’s strong declaration of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross as the only hope of salvation for man from the judgment that his sin deserves earns it a place of honour among hymns of grace. The analogy of Jesus Christ to a rock has its roots in the Scriptures. In fact, the word “rock” is often used figuratively in the Bible to speak of God and Jesus Christ. As Rock, God is the Creator (Deuteronomy 32:18), His people’s strength (Deuteronomy 32:4), His people’s defence and refuge (Psalm 31:2-3; 94:22), and His people’s salvation (Deuteronomy 32:15; Psalm 89:26). In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the Rock from whom the Spirit of life flows (John 4:13-14; 1 Corinthians 10:4), the foundation of the church (Matthew 16:18) and its cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). Alluding to the Israelites during their wilderness wanderings, Paul wrote, “...for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4 NIV). Paul was apparently referring to the event recorded in Exodus 17:6. Moses, at God’s command, struck the rock in Horeb, miraculously bringing forth a needed supply of water for God’s people. The physical rock is a picture of Jesus Christ being struck to provide the “water” needed to satisfy sinful man’s spiritual need. In addition, there are numerous Old Testament references to the Lord as a “Rock” or “Rock of salvation.”
The specific picture of Jesus Christ as a rock split open (cleft) to provide a place of spiritual refuge for sinful people is surely drawn from Moses’ experience recorded in Exodus 33:20-23. Because Moses, a fallen man, could not see God’s face and live, God Himself protected Moses by placing him in the cleft of a rock as He passed by. In like manner, by being hidden in Jesus Christ, the Rock cleft on his behalf at the cross, the believer is sheltered from the eternal death he would face when he stands before a holy, righteous God.
This hymn indeed reiterates the clear scriptural teaching regarding man’s utter inability to, in any way, offer God anything to earn or merit salvation. Paul told Titus, “... [Jesus Christ] saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy…” (Titus 3:5a NIV. See also Romans 3:20, 28; 4:5; 11:6; Galatians 2:16; 3:16-21; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9).
Are you in the cleft of this Rock, or are you still depending on your efforts to be saved? Hide yourself in Him, and you will never regret you did!
In His service,
Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).
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