Part 1. THE LORD JESUS IS THE CORNER STONE
There can be no doubt at all as to the identity of the CORNER STONE presented in the Old Testament prophets, and enhanced by the exposition of the Apostles in the New Testament. Peter, filled with the power of God’s Holy Spirit, spoke to the Jews at Pentecost, saying that “Jesus Christ of Nazareth – – is the Stone which was set at naught of you builders, but has become the Head of the Corner.” (Acts 4:10-11) Paul likewise referred to our Lord in this manner in Romans 9:33,“Behold I lay in Zion a Stumbling Stone and Rock of Offence, but whosoever believes in Him shall not be ashamed.” But by far the most detailed exposition is found in Peter’s first letter, chapter 2, where he quotes from Isaiah, saying that Jesus Christ is “A Chief Corner Stone, Elect, Precious – – and the Stone which the builders discarded has been made Head of the Corner.” There are three distinct passages in the O.T. which speak of our Lord prophetically as the Corner Stone. They are as follows:- Psalm 118:22 “The Stone which the builders refused is become the Head of the Corner. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.” Isaiah 28:16 “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a Stone, a Tried Stone, a Precious Corner Stone, a Sure Foundation.” Zechariah 10:4 “Out of him [i.e. Judah] came forth the Corner (Stone)” Even without any further exposition, these passages are uplifting, comforting, and glorifying to the Lord. But a little further digging reveals further truth which will be helpful to all those souls who hunger and thirst after righteousness, and are always looking for “hidden treasures”.
The Hebrew word for Corner is PINNAH, a noun which derives from the verb PANAN, unused in the O.T. but meaning “to divide.” A Corner Stone is one which divides a wall dimensionally. We read of the “horns of the altar on the four corners thereof,” in Exodus 38:2. And then there are several references to the Corner Gate to Jerusalem, for example Jer.31:38. But just in case one imagines through modern usage, that the Corner Stone must be at ground level, we are told about “the corner of the housetop” in Proverbs 21:9.
However, there is another usage of the word Corner in the O.T. and this is helpful to our study. In Judges 20:2 and 1 Samuel 14:38 we read of “the chief of all the people,” and the word “chief” is PINNAH in Hebrew. Hence a PERSON may be a CORNER, in the sense that he is DIVIDED OFF from the rest of the people to become a CHIEF. Again in Isaiah 19:13 we read “the stay (margin, corners, or governors) of the tribes thereof.” In these references we see a transference in thought from a purely architectural symbol to a living person, and strictly speaking, a person of some eminence. This is how Peter uses the information in his first letter, where he refers to believers as “living stones”, and the Lord Jesus as the“Chief Corner Stone”. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, uses the same symbolism. “You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Corner Stone, in whom all building-work, harmoniously fitted together, grows into a holy Temple in the Lord, in whom you are built together for a spiritual habitation of God.”
What then is this BUILDING, which has the Lord Jesus as the Chief Corner Stone, Elect and Precious? Could it be what Abraham and other O.T. Patriarchs were looking for? Hebrews 11:10, “He looked for a City which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.” And in verse 16, “They desire a Better Country, that is an heavenly, wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a City.” We are not left in the dark about this City. The Apostle John was given a magnificent vision of it, recorded in the later chapters of Revelation. It is purely spiritual, and heavenly, and in the figurative language of the N.T. believers are referred to as “living stones” in the structure, but at the same time, able to “walk” in the City. Clearly we are not viewing a literal city, but a symbol.
Unlocking the secrets of the symbolism is therefore of prime importance. In Galatians Paul refers to this city as the“Jerusalem which is above, which is our mother.” (4:25) In this respect Paul is speaking of the New Birth, being born of the Holy Spirit, and one is always born of a woman, and so the Holy Spirit is the Mother figure in the Godhead. This is a great mystery, and Paul refers to it again in Ephesians 5:31. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall be one flesh. THIS IS A GREAT MYSTERY – but I am speaking about Christ and the church.” In other words Paul was using the verse from Genesis 2, which speaks about every human marriage, and applying it to our Lord, leaving His Father AND MOTHER, to come to the earth to seek His Bride. The Mother is the Holy Spirit. Even a little child can understand the Godhead in this respect. Three in one, the basic family unit, which is constantly being re-enacted on earth every time a new family unit is established. This may come as a big surprise to some who read this paper, but I ask that it may be accepted in the simplicity in which it is presented – a truth which the Lord revealed to us back in 1968, and for which we continually thank the Lord.
But I can hear someone say, “Surely the New Jerusalem is called the Bride in Revelation. How come you equate it with the Mother?” The simple answer is, I didn’t! It was Paul who used the figure in Galatians. But at the end of Revelation, we read “The Spirit and the Bride say Come,” and it is here that “Mother” and “Daughter” have the same mind, and together pray for the return of the Bridegroom. This close unity between the Holy Spirit and the Bride is the very characteristic that our Lord is looking for in seeking a Bride. She has to be one who is “clothed in white raiment, pure and bright,” she has to be “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband”. (Rev.19:8, 21:2) And as we learn from Psalm 45,“so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty, – – she is all glorious within, her clothing is embroidered with gold threads, so shall she be brought unto the King in embroidered robes.” Our Lord will not be considering anyone who doesn’t match up to these stringent qualifications. Hence John says, “Beloved, now we are the sons of God and it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when it does appear, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. And every man who has this hope purifies himself, even as He is pure.”
Moving on from this sublime thought, we find a description of the New Jerusalem given by John in Revelation. What he saw must have been an enlarged and more glorious vision of that which Moses saw in the Mount, which enabled him to build the Tabernacle “exactly as he had seen in the vision.” Amongst other things we learn that the City is “foursquare” on its base, and has a height equal to its base-line. This has led most commentators to assume that John saw a brightly-lit CUBE of about 1,500 miles each way. But this is an assumption that doesn’t stand up to logical criticism. There is certainly a need to assume the base of the City to be SQUARE. Of that there is no doubt, but as to its elevated structure, no hint is given about its composition.
This is where we are privileged to have the testimony of a group of Chinese children, who were orphans, being cared for byH.A.Baker and his wife at the Adullam Home before the second world war. In his little book, “Visions beyond the Vail”, he tells how the Lord graciously outpoured the heavenly spirit upon these children, and sometimes they were able to SHARE visions of eternal verities. Baker would sit spellbound, listening to them describing what they saw, and it was clear that sometimes as many as a dozen children were all “caught up in the spirit” to witness the same glorious view. On one occasion they were shown the New Jerusalem, and in describing it they said that it was shaped like a Pyramid, with three distinct cities one above the other, each city smaller in extent than the one below, until the Capstone was reached, which shone brilliantly, and must have represented the Lord Himself. Baker was surprised by this revelation. He says, “I had never thought of the New Jerusalem as three cities, one suspended above another. – – The Bible does not tell us the internal order of the city.” (Page 53) No doubt this is how John must have seen the City, but was not given leave to describe it in any greater detail.
The height of the Pyramid was equal to the base length and breadth. And furthermore, we can now see what the Lord meant by the “Head Stone of the Corner”. The Capstone of a Pyramid is a perfect pyramid in itself, and any further enlargement of the Pyramid below the Capstone only goes to magnify the shape of the Capstone. Thus the Bride “magnifies” the Son of God, the Bridegroom, in both senses of the word. The individual shape of the “living stones” gets lost to all who view the City. The eye sees a perfect Pyramid, the “shape” of the Lord Himself, as the Head Stone. In the N.T. the Greek word translated “cornerstone” is AKROGONIAIOS which is quite a mouthful! But it is composed of two words, the first being AKROS, meaning sharp, and the second GONIOS meaning an angle. Both of these words come over in English usage. “Acrid” means sharp tasting, and “acrimonious” speech is sharp, severe, even bitter in criticism. And then we have what is called a “goniometer” which is the proper name for the instrument which can measure solid angles in crystallography. Putting these thoughts together we find the Apostles using a word which describes a “sharp-angled stone”, which is a very good description of the Capstone of a Pyramid.
Just think for a moment what conditions would be like if the New Jerusalem was truly a Cube in shape. How could any onestone be picked out as having a UNIQUE shape? How could any stone be classified as the Head Stone? If the word “Corner” was used alone, then of course there would be many such stones making up the corners of the cube, six of which would be extra special corners, but there could never be ONE such stone that would take the Uppermost Place and be seen to be the Glorious Head of the Church. Returning to the figure of the Pyramid, we see that the Head Stone is unique in shape, and all other stones have different shapes, but together they magnify the shape of the Capstone. Here we can at last understand why the Apostles sometimes referred to believers as the BRIDE of Christ, and at other times as the BODY of Christ. How can both be true, one might say? Or perhaps, as others say, two distinct companies of people are being referred to, some of whom will be the Bride, and others the Body. I have seen this in literature, but it has never rung true to my spirit, even long before the Pyramid structure was made known to me. When each part of the City is considered ALONE, it is referred to as the BRIDE. But when the Cities are considered together, and with the Head in place, then they are referred to as the BODY. This is the meaning of the “one-fleshness” of a marriage. The wife is so to speak “lost” in her husband, which is so very clearly shown by the fact that she relinquishes her own maiden name, and takes on her husband’s name. The Capstone is the Head of this Body, and the three cities comprise the Body. There is no problem with this. It is a simple truth and easy of comprehension.
It also solves another problem of exposition. Paul spoke to the Ephesians about believers being built up into a holy Temple in the Lord, but at the end of Revelation no Temple is seen! Why is this? Simply because the Pyramid structure magnifies the Lord Himself, and the Bride is “lost sight of” within her Husband. And so John says that only “the Lord God and the Lamb” are seen. But of course, the Bride is within the Lamb.
Consider a simple illustration of bricks of three different shapes, which together can make up a pyramid. Most of them are rectangular. These make up the hidden inner parts of the pyramid. Some are triangular in cross-section, comprising the slant sides of the pyramid, and a few are cut both ways, making up the slant edges of the structure. But the Capstone has its own peculiar shape, unlike any of the other bricks. If this were added to a pile of bricks, scattered across the ground, then the “builders” might very well discard it, thinking that it has a peculiar shape, and cannot fit in the structure. That is why the Lord said of Himself that He was a “Stone of Stumbling, and a Rock of Offence”, because He didn’t “fit” into any of the pre-conceived ideas of the religious leaders of His day. Perhaps this is the whole point. If man thinks of the New Jerusalem as a Cube, then pyramidal stones would have no place in the structure. There is much wisdom in this simple figurative arrangement. We have now succeeded in unlocking a few of the treasures that belong to the New Jerusalem truth. No doubt there are many others that would warrant careful study of those later chapters of Revelation, but we must stop at this point, to make way for the next paper, which will examine the pyramid structure from a completely different point of view.