STONES >> Truths


0232aFrequent mention is made of stones used for building houses, walls, foundations, pavements, altars, tombs, etc. Generally, hewn stones were used. But, for altars, whole  stones were used; and the Israelites were forbidden to construct altars of hewn stones. The altar was for the worship of the Lord. And, in our worship, we are to look to the Lord as He proclaims Himself, in the letter of His Word. We are to take the stones of natural truth, as we find them ready for us, in the Scriptures. Hewing and dressing stones represents our work done upon the natural truths, to prepare them for our use. But, in mentally building our altar, to worship our Lord, we are not to add anything of our own self-derived intelligence, nor to square the Lord's truths with our own desires and tastes ; but we are to take these truths as the Lord gives them. For our worship should be a silencing of our own minds, in the presence of the Lord, and a looking to Him, in His holy Word of truth. But, in the various activities of our own lives, we must work as of ourselves, and we must put the Lord's truths to use, in so far as we can work with them, by understanding and loving them. But these truths are such that the Lord, in His mercy, adapts them to our states of mind and of life. Thus-, in building our houses, etc., we may often use hewn stone, because we build mentally in the use of such intelligence as we have, in our "own minds. We build upon the truths of the Word, as we understand them. These are our mental building stones.

The walls and foundations of the holy city, the New Jerusalem, were to be of precious stones. The holy city represented a new church, a new system of true doctrine, from the Lord, and built of all manner of precious truths. Tombs were either built of stones, or hewn out of the solid rock, on hill-sides. The grave is the earthly side of death ; but the spiritual side of the same event is the resurrection. And so, in a good sense, the grave represents the resurrection, which we reach by mean* of the grave, or of bodily death. So, the tombs were of rock, or stone, to represent the fact that our resurrection comes by means of the truths of the Lord's Word, obeyed in our lives.


A corner-stone is a large strong stone on which, especially, the building is supposed to rest. So, in our mental life, we need to support our spiritual house, our mind, on the strong and enduring truth of the Lord. And so a corner-stone represents the Divine Truth in ultimates, that is, as it comes out to the natural life, and is thus applicable to our daily conduct.

The great truth of the Divine character of the Humanity of Jesus Christ, is the stone which the theological "builders rejected" from false systems of doctrine, but which, in the New Jerusalem, "has become the head of the corner," the very corner-stone of the building. And no system of doctrine which rejects this great corner-stone, the Divinity of Jesus Christ, can open the minds of its followers into any real spirituality of life. This is the rock, on which the wise man builds his spiritual house, a house which will then bear the combined assaults of the storms of temptations. But the mental house, which, without a foundation, is built upon the shifting sand of worldly, sensuous thought, yields to the storm, because it is not founded
on any enduring spiritual principle.


Large stones were used for doors for closing openings, as, for instance, the entrances to caves, or to sepulchres, or to wells. In the same way, natural truth, literal truth, is a door to the more interior things which lie beyond and within. When the door is shut, the letter of the Word shuts out the indwelling spiritual sense, to those who are not ready to make good use of spiritual truth. But, when the stone is rolled away, the door is opened, giving access to all those who are in condition to see through the literal sense, and to enter into spiritual truth.


Stones were also used for knives, especially in the act of circumcision. Thus, it was represented, that the use of literal truth enables us to cut off the natural impurities of life, which otherwise would be indulged. The literal commandments prohibit impurity.


Stones were used for weapons, either in slings, or other weapons, or alone, as in stoning criminals to death. For instance, David slew Goliath with a smooth stone, taken from a brook, and thrown by means of a sling. And thus the spiritual Israelite, the follower of the Lord, slays his spiritual enemies, his own evil tendencies, by the practical truths of the Word of God, applied in his daily life. Stoning to death was the form of punishment for blasphemy, idolatry, witchcraft, breach of the Sabbath, and kindred crimes, which were characterized by a state of antagonism to the Lord, and to His holy truth. But the direct application of the literal truths of the Lord's Word, the spiritual stones, puts to death our natural tendency to commit such blasphemous evils and crimes against the Lord. Daily obedience to the commandments of the Decalogue, applied to our actual conduct, is the only means of driving out our natural inclination to such sins.


Stones were used as landmarks, for boundaries between the possessions of different persons, or countries. And a similar custom still exists, in many countries. There was a law given to Israel, through Moses: "Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor's landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that Jehovah thy God, giveth thee, to possess it." (Deut. xix. 14.) In any community, confusion would result, if evil-minded men should displace the landmarks by which boundaries are known. And so, to compel the selfish and cunning Israelites to respect such evidences, we find, among the curses invoked upon the heads of evildoers, the following : "Cursed be he that removeth his neighbor's landmark." (Deut. xxvii. 17.) The stone used as a landmark, represents the truth that stands between us and our neighbors, to show us our relations and duties towards each other. And to remove that landmark is to deprive our neighbor, as well as ourselves, of any standard of truth, by which we are mutually to be governed, in all our associations. Without such a standard, there will be no legal and recognized bounds to our selfish desires and actions.

To remove the landmark, and then to set it in a wrong place, so as to claim more than our own property, is, representatively, to try to misapply the truth, to pervert it, so that we may justify our evil feelings and false thoughts and sinful doings, in our attempts to overreach others. It is to try to make the literal truth lie for us.


Stones were used as weights, for scales. And, even at the present day, in England, a 14 lb. weight is called a "stone." And, in our dealings with others, either physically or mentally, what can we use as a weight, except the truth of the Lord's Word, the requirements of the Ten Commandments ? And such truths are represented by stones.


Stones were used for pillars, as memorials, to commemorate important events. Jacob, while on his journey back to his kindred, set up a stone, and anointed it with oil, to commemorate the dream in which Jehovah appeared to him. So, in our mental life, we use truth as a memorial-stone, to fix in our minds the important states and conditions of our life and progress. When we have made any advance in spiritual life, we always connect that advance with some marked truth, some well-defined truth, which we have thus established in our minds. And the statement of that truth carries with it the remembrance of the states of mind in which it was fixed in our minds as a principle. That truth is a memorial stone in our mental experience.


Stones were also set tip, as pillars, over the graves of prominent persons. Jacob set up a stone over the grave of Rachel. These stones were in the nature of memorials, and also of marks to distinguish the locality of the graves. And we still have the same custom; and in even more common use than it was among the Israelites. And natural truths, which stones represent, mentally indicate the states and conditions of our daily life.


Heaps, or piles, of stones, were made, to commemorate treaties, and to witness agreements between persons and nations. Sometimes large single stones were used for these purposes. These stones represented the truths, the principles upon which the agreements, or treaties, were based. As these stones were witnesses to the facts, so the truths are witnesses of the principles involved in the facts.


 Stones were also used as tablets to write upon, or on which words were engraved, as, for instance the tables of the Law, containing the Decalogue. And such were the precious stones in the breast-plate of the high-priest, on which were engraved the names of the tribes of Israel. And, in the Revelation, we read, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches ; to him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the hidden manna ; and I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving him that receiveth it." (Rev. ii. 17). The white stone, which the regenerate will receive, is the pure letter of the Divine Word, within which they will see the new things of the spiritual sense. The letter is a tablet, on which higher things are written. The first tables of the Law, given to Moses, by the Lord, on Mount Sinai, represent the ancient Word, which existed before the present Old Testament, and which is sometimes referred to, in our Old Testament; as, for instance, when references are made to the books of Jasher, the Enunciations, the Wars of Jehovah, etc., which are not books of our Old Testament, but they belonged to an older Word, not adapted to the Israelites. But the Lord caused a new Word to be given to the Israelites, adapted to their states of life. These things are represented by Moses breaking the first tables of the Law, and hewing out other tables, on which the Lord wrote, again, the words of the Divine Law. For the same Divine principles are contained in both the Old Testament and the more ancient Word; but they are expressed in different literal ways.


Stones were used for vessels, such as urns, waterpots, cisterns, etc., which were hollowed out from single stones. When these were sound, they would hold liquids; but, when broken, or cracked, they were  useless. Such vessels represent doctrines, which are forms of truth, to contain true principles. But, if such doctrines are not held firmly in the mind, but are broken, they are doctrines falsified, "cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold 'no water." (Jer. ii. 13.)


Stones were also used for mill-stones, for grinding grain. And so, by the action of natural truth, as applied to our daily life, we prepare the good mental gifts of our Lord for the support of our spiritual life.


Stones were used as seats, to uphold men ; as when Moses sat on a stone, during the battle against the Amalekites, at Rephidim (Exodus xvii. 12). Thus, in our warfare against evil, we must base ourselves upon the truths of the letter of the Lord's Word, the commandments of daily life.


Precious stones were also used for practical and ornamental purposes. These precious stones represent the truths of the letter of the Lord's Word, when they shine with a resplendent light from the inward spiritual sense of the Word.

Stones are also mentioned, in the Bible, in many other ways, generally and particularly as stone, a material, or as stones, or rocks, etc., always relating to natural truth, in some of its forms and relations. Stones are also often mentioned figuratively, or metaphorically, to represent hardness, either (a) in a good sense, meaning firmness and durability, or (b) in a bad sense, to mean hardness of heart, or insensibility. In a good sense, we read of the wise man building his house on a rock, a firm, enduring foundation. (Matt, vii. 24.) In a bad sense, we read of having a stony heart. (Ezek. xi. 19.) Here, the word stone is used to represent a contrast to a heart of flesh, or a living heart, full of love. Anything that is turned into stone, or petrified, is dead. Thus we see the opposite sense of stone, meaning the outward or natural truth, falsified, and no longer living and active. The heathen worshipped idols of stone, false gods, which could do nothing for them. So, in our unregenerate states, we worship the false principles of our own selfish minds, which we set up for gods.


In Palestine, much of the land was naturally full of stones. And a considerable amount of labor was necessary to clear the ground. Loose stones, lying upon the ground, superficially, do much to interfere with the cultivation of the land. And they thus represent the superficial appearances of truth, truth as seen by the natural senses, which we must remove, before we can do the best work, in the cultivation of our mental fields. We must learn to work on good mental ground, clear of superficial appearances, in order that our mental crop may have opportunities to strike root deeply, and to bring forth plentifully.

The seed that is sown on stony ground, i. e., where there is very little soil, does not do good work. "He that receiveth the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the Word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation, or persecution, ariseth, because of the Word, by and by he is offended." (Matt, xiii. 20, 21.)

Among the evil-minded Israelites, it was a custom to throw stones upon the land of those whom they disliked, and thus, from spite, to injure their land, or to make trouble for them. Here is represented the habit of annoying our enemies by using superficial appearances of truth against them, to indulge our malice. In the gospel, our Lord taught that when a son asks for bread, a good father will not give him a stone, instead of bread : i. e., when our spiritual nature needs genuine goodness, we must not allow our sensuous nature to provide merely external forms of truth, as in doctrines, only, without spiritual love and life.

In the highest sense, the Lord is the great Rock, on which we can securely build our spiritual life. For, in His Divine Humanity, the Lord has come down to the ultimates, or lowest things, of human life. In Jesus Christ, the one, only God, we have God manifest in the flesh. He is thus both the First and the Last : He is the Divine Truth from the highest to the lowest, from the sunlight down to the stone. He is the great Rock, from which, in our mental journey from Egypt to Canaan, at the touch of our spiritual Moses, the Word of our Lord as our spiritual Leader, there will spring forth living water, even in the wilderness : the living truth that will quench our spiritual thirst. The letter of the Lord's Word may seem to be a hard rock; and yet, within it, are stored up all the blessings of spiritual life.

Looking to Him, as the Divine Truth, then will the Lord, in our hearts, "lay, in Zion, for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation." (Isai. xxviii. 16.) "In Thee, O Lord, do I put my trust ; Be Thou my strong Rock for a house of defense, to save me. For Thou art my Rock, and my fortress." (Ps. xxxi. 1, 2, 3.)

Author: Edward Craig Mitchell From Scripture Symbolism  1904

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