The Ground of a Sinner's Hope
Isaiah 28:16-17
Therefore thus said the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone…

In the preceding context the prophet speaks of unsafe refuges. To bring sinners to the apprehension of the Saviour, God announces the declaration of the text.

I. THE IMPORTANCE WHICH GOD ATTACHES TO THE DECLARATION which He was about to make. He introduces it with the solemn asseveration, "Therefore, thus saith the Lord." This is further apparent from the solemn manner in which He calls the minds of all to it. "Behold, I lay." He thus summons the attention of men and angels. It can be no trivial matter to which the infinitely wise God thus summons the attention of all. The truth is, He is about to erect a stately temple, unspeakably more glorious than either of the temples that stood once on Mount Moriah. They were only types and obscure shadows of this splendid structure. It is a temple which shall be built up forever. The stones of it are lively stones, being the immortal souls of men. It shall be filled with the glory of the God of the whole earth. Never shall "Ichabod, the glory is departed," be written upon its walls. But to employ another figure of the same signification, God is about to build a glorious city. But what is meant by the temple and city? They refer to the Church of the living God, which is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. The words have also a reference to sinners of mankind. God may be viewed as laying the foundation stone of a gracious plan for redeeming them from sin and hell.

II. IT IS GOD WHO HAS LAID THE FOUNDATION IN ZION. "I lay." None else had sufficient knowledge to discover a safe and suitable method of acceptance. Besides, He alone had it in His power to lay such a foundation. Here is matter of comfort. Had it been laid by another, how could we have had the same evidence that it was safe? Might it not have been disallowed by God? But since it is the doing of the Lord,. who may. prohibit, us from building upon it? and who shall cast any reflection upon its security? Here a question suggests itself, and it is, When was this foundation laid? God speaks of it as if He was laying it at the time when He used these words. But it will be remembered that there is no succession of time with God. It was laid in decree from all eternity. The saints of the former dispensations sought it and relied upon it for safety. But again, this foundation was laid, in the fulness of time, by Christ's coming into the world, and offering Himself a sacrifice for sin.

III. THIS STONE IS LAID IN ZION, — in the Church. Christ is the foundation upon which it is built. Without His mission and death no Church could have been erected. And from Him proceeded all the ordinances and institutions by which the blessings of redemption are communicated to her members. From Him likewise proceeds all the invisible grace which is necessary to gather, edify, and purify a Church. Again, it is in the ordinances and assemblies of the Church that He is chiefly to be found.

IV. THE STONE LAID FOR A FOUNDATION HAS BEEN TRIED. Though Christ had not been tried, the fact that He was God as well as man would have been sufficient to warrant our strongest confidence in Him. But in what respects was Christ tried and proved?

1. Like Adam, His innocence was tried. His temper was severely tested. it was tried by His disciples.

2. Christ's confidence in the promises made to Him was greatly tried. God had promised that to Him would be the gathering of the people, and that the heathen and the uttermost parts of the earth would be given Him for His possession; but, instead of witnessing the fulfilment of these promises, He was rejected and despised of men; and His retinue often amounted to no more than twelve fishermen; and yet He continued to trust that all would be accomplished in due time.

3. His qualifications to act the part of our Saviour have likewise been proven.

(1) His mercy has been tried. It has been proven by all who have applied to Him for deliverances of any kind; and they have always found it very tender.

(2) Christ's readiness to hear prayer has been tried.

(3) His power has been likewise proved. He has completely demonstrated His ability to save. What comfort is here for the awakened! In coming to Christ for peace and salvation, they incur no risk.


1. It is easy to see some reasons why He is called precious.

(1) He is precious to God on account of the ineffable love that subsists between Him and the Son, who is His delight.

(2) He is precious to the Father, likewise, on account of the work of redemption which the Father gave Him to do, and which He cheerfully undertook and faithfully performed.

(3) To believers He possesses transcendent excellence on account of the nature and perfections of Deity with which He is invested, and because He is a suitable and compassionate Saviour.

2. But why is He also termed a cornerstone? This seems intended to teach us that Christ must be all in all in the work of our salvation.


1. God has laid Him for a foundation, and the foundation of the Lord standeth sure.

2. That Christ is a sure foundation is evident from the fact that He stood His trial.

3. It is manifest also, from the many promises and oaths made to Himself, and to His people, through Him.

4. In addition to all other grounds of security, be it remembered, that while our first representative was a creature, the second is the Lord from heaven, the Creator.

VII. HE THAT BELIEVETH ON CHRIST SHALL NOT MAKE HASTE. This mode of expression is evidently borrowed from the idea of a house about to fall — the inmates making haste to get away from under it. When an unexpected inundation has sapped away the sand or earth on which the house was built, then there is a running to and fro: everyone tries to secure his own safety, and to give warning to his relatives. And confusion and haste far greater than this will attend those who now cover themselves with lies and falsehood. There are three seasons of this haste — the season of death, the season of the resurrection, and the season of judgment. These are times of the greatest alarm and confusion to all who stumble upon the stone laid in Zion; but the case is very different with him that trusteth in the Lord.

(A. Ross, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

WEB: Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh, "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone of a sure foundation. He who believes shall not act hastily.

The Foundation Stone of the Church
Top of Page
Top of Page