Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Living Stones

If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:3-5

The Christian is to be built up as a "living stone." But how can a stone live? In the games of our childhood we used to play a guessing game with old postcards. The pictures stood for either "animal, vegetable, or mineral", and a correct guess earned the card to keep. All the dead objects were "minerals". In Arabic, however, it is possible to speak of both living and dead stones.

An Arab pastor once explained to me as we went along the Bethlehem road that an unworked, shapeless stone which has not yet been in the hands of the master is always a dead stone, but being shaped it comes to life. It thus has a form which will "support and carry others" and it "fits in to its own place." If the building should for some reason collapse or if it is abandoned, these "living stones" which have been fashioned by the mason can be used in another building. In this way a stone which has been rejected can become the capstone of a new building. From the time of Hammurabi, arches in the east have been built in such a way that their walls would burst inward if the keystone were to be taken away. (Santala, Risto. 1992. The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Jerusalem: Yanetz Limited., pgs 137-138)

Using this cultural background, it is interesting to think of Joseph Smith's description of himself as a "rough stone rolling"--being shaped and smoothed by his life circumstances. And Christ described himself both as the Stone of Israel and the cornerstone which was rejected by the builders of the Temple. Later this week, I will post some more of my favorite "stone" quotes.


  1. A "Living Stone" is also one that has been "enlivened" by the Holy Spirit. Christians are to become enlivened of the Holy Ghost and shine forth their righteousness just as the 16 stones that were touched by the finger of God were enlivened and shone forth.

    Those who sought to kill Jesus were as dead stones. While God is able to raise up children to Abraham from seemingly dead "stones."

  2. Beautiful thoughts, Steven. I appreciate your insights.