A Firm Foundation
Bible Reading: Matthew 7:24-27
The 2011 Tohoku earthquake that struck offshore of Japan was one of the biggest naturally-caused disasters in our lifetimes. Some 15,000 people died. Over one million buildings were either totally or partially destroyed. As of 2017 there were still people residing in temporary housing. At the edge of Aneyoshi, a small village on Japan’s northeastern coast, a 10-foot-tall stone tablet stands, carved with a dire warning to locals. “High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants,” the rock slab says. “Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point.” The stone was erected, along with others that dot the coast, following a previous tsunami. Tragically, many failed to heed the warning. Jesus spoke of the need to be careful where and how we build with respect to our lives. The wise and foolish builders of this passage illustrate the varying results dependent upon where and how a person builds.
We should note this similarity between the circumstances of the two builders Jesus spoke of in our passage. Both constructed a house that is in turn struck by a storm. The storm was like many I experienced when living on the north Oregon coast. “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house” (Matthew 7:25, 27). If we compare the living of our lives to the building of a house, one thing we should take away from this text is the understanding that trials are an inevitable part of life. The Christian is never promised a life devoid of troubles, but he is provisioned by God with the resources necessary to endure and even benefit through them (James 1:3-4).
One of the builders was deemed “wise” and the other “foolish.” The wise builder was prudent and sensible in his actions, building his house on the rock. The Maryhill Museum of Art, located across the Columbia River from The Dalles, was built as a home by a man named Sam Hill in 1914. Built on solid rock, and constructed of steel-reinforced concrete, he built it, he had said, to last “one thousand” years. The foolish builder, on the other hand, built his house upon the sand. The resort town of BayOcean was established in the early 1900s. Located on a sand spit between Tillamook Bay and the Ocean, it was a beautiful tourist destination. But by 1971 the last remaining building was swept away by a series of storms. It’s all gone now.
Obviously, no one wants to suffer the ridicule or consequences associated with being deemed foolish. So, what was the main point of the analogy? Those who hear and do Jesus’ words are like the wise man, those who merely hear and don’t do are like the foolish one. In hearing and doing a person is provisioned with heaven-sent resources to withstand and prevail amidst the troubles of life. Note, importantly, it is not good enough to merely hear the word, it is necessary to put God’s word into practice. It is foolhardy enterprise to build one’s life on the shifting sands of prevailing beliefs and practices. It makes far more sense to hear and do according to the unchanging and unassailable truths of God’s holy word (Matthew 5:18).
The wise man builds his house on rockDennis J. De Haan
Instead of sinking sand
By doing what the Builder says
And following His plan.
HOW FIRM A FOUNDATION
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in God’s excellent Word!
What more can be said than to you God hath said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
for I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
for I will be near thee, thy troubles to bless,
and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
my grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
the flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake.