My Dad was a contractor so every summer and every day off from school as I was growing up was spent doing construction. I spent many summers digging ditches that would turn into the foundation for additions to houses. Most of the time the space or the length of the foundation did not warrant bringing in a back hoe so I was given a shovel and a pick and told to start digging. It was hard work and I remember losing fifteen pounds every summer but it was the most crucial starting point for any structure that we were building.
In this passage Jesus talks about two buildings that were identical in appearance, that both heard the instructions on how to build their houses and they faced the same storm. What made these buildings different was what could not be seen from outside appearances, their foundation. As we look at these two buildings we will see where they were different.
:Jesus is trying to drive home the point that obedience means that you actually heard the word of God. To many people sit in church week after week but do not change the way they live or their priorities. Those who do not listen are like the foolish builder that although they received the instruction to build, they build their lives the way they want. The Bible teaches that obedience is the true sign that listening has taken place. (Deut. 28:15; 31:12; Joshua 1:7-8; Ezekiel 33:31-32; Matthew 12:50; Romans 2:13; James 1:22-25;2:14-20) We know this as parents when our children, who we continue to ask if they heard us, do not do what they were instructed to do. Obedience shows a lifestyle that is concentrating on doing the will of God not just church attendance. The word Fool is better interpreted as Moron and it means one that hears but does not put into practice. In Psalms and Proverbs a fool was anyone who left God out of their life. (Psalm 14:1; 53:1; Proverbs 12:15-16; 14:33). A Moron is anyone who hears but does not obey what God has said.
Every house or addition my dad built was done so by a set of plans. They were not plans that he put together but ones the owners through an architect developed to fulfill their purposes for their house. My dad’s job was to build what they had instructed him to do and any changes to that plan had to be approved by the owners. As Christians we are given a plan and we do not tell the owner what we will or will not do. Just like my dad accepting a job we to have the choice to follow the owner or not. To follow the plan is to submit to the owner what they have drawn out to be built and this goes for our relationship with God as we accept His plan for our life for the purpose He has set. Although we may not be able to see the entire plan all at once we trust the designer and architect that what is being built has eternal purposes.
Built on Rock or Sand
The Rock here means a great expanse of bedrock. It would take up the whole area that the house was being built on assuring a solid foundation. To build a house on the rock would take more time and harder work than just quickly building on the sand. The Rock here also means the word of God although it can also mean Jesus Himself. They both are true in that sense because Jesus is the rock and the word of God is from Him so in that sense they both are the Rock on which we are to build our lives. A person who builds on the Rock (God’s Word) will not avoid the times when the digging gets difficult but will continue to dig even though the task is difficult. Too many churches have turned away from teaching the deeper things of God for fear that it will be too difficult for people and in turn those people may walk away. This was not a concern for Jesus who in John 6 tested to see who the true followers were when He taught more difficult things. I am not saying we teach difficult things to just say we are going deeper, as some claim to say, but we realize every person is at a differnt place in their Christian walk, and we teach them accordingly. Just like we do not expect a baby to walk or a toddler to run so we do not expect a teenager to crawl as their only way of getting around. We have expectations as children get older that they will develop physically so we should also expect that someone who is older in the faith should also be developed more spiritually. By doing this we help people get ready with not only a strong foundation but a strong built house of faith that can stand no matter what the storms of life may come upon it.
Hebrews 5:11-14 About this we have much to say, and it is (T)hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again (U)the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need (V)milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is (W)a child. 14 But solid food is for (X)the mature, for those who have their powers (Y)of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Here specifically the storm means the final judgement of Christ and He was referring to the rains that would sometimes create flash floods and they would destroy a home that was not on a firm foundation. Jesus again is letting people know that although they may look like a Christian and do some Christian things, He is the one who truly knows the foundation upon which they stand. I believe that although this storm is talking about the final judgement that God also allows storms into peoples lives to show them what they are building their lives upon. Non Christians sometimes walk away from the Christian faith because Jesus did not do what they thought He should do. Sometimes we call these people prodigals and wanderers from the faith but Jesus maybe showing them that they never belonged to Him in the first place. Jesus not wanting anyone to perish (1 Peter 3:9) allows these things to shake people now before His final judgement when there will be no time for repentance.
1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
For a believer, although their foundation is secure, it may show them that they have areas of weakness in their building that they need to rebuild the correct way. It may show them they have some areas of false theology that God uses so that they find out more about God and who He really is. This is why the word of God is our Rock and why we have to turn to it daily. The only way to continue to build your faith up correctly is by spending time in God’s Word and disecting what it is saying, accurately.
It is the storms of life that show what are building is made of and how well we have built it. After Hurricane Andrew in Miami you could tell who the good and bad builders were. When you saw hurricane straps not nailed down and other things that should have been done to prevent some of the destruction, we saw each home and the weaknesses that caused their destruction. Many builders in Miami took the easy road to completing the house and it cost the homeowners later, some even with their lives.
Is Jesus trying to scare people into believing in Him?
Jesus has been warning His listeners to pay attention to their lives and see if they are truly on the only foundation that will last for eternity. In these verses He says ” Total destruction” in Matthew 7:13 ” Destruction” In Matthew 7:19 “Thrown into the fire”, and in Matthew 7:23 “Cast out of His sight”. If my neighbor came to my house banging on my door to warn me of a tornado that looks to be coming our way, I would not be upset with him. Even if it turned out that the storm missed us I would still thank my neighbor and appreciate his effort in warning me. It is only those who do not want to examine their lives to see if they really belong to the Kingdom of God that get upset with all the warnings. We are a nation that wants to say that all roads lead to God. If that were the case how sick was God to allow Jesus to die the cruelest death ever for our sins, only for people to take another path to heaven?
“ Whether you accept the existence of hell will depend in large part upon your total estimate of the person and ministry of Jesus. If you can dismiss him, you will have little difficulty dismissing hell. If you claim to follow him, then you cannot with integrity do so in a subjective way which avoids the inconvenient and unpleasant” (D.A. Carson, Sermon on the Mount)
If we are going to say we are Christ followers then we have to take the things that Jesus said seriously. First and foremost we must come to a point where we surrender our lives to Him, accepting His death on the cross as payment for our sin. Secondly, then we must continue to spend time in God’s word as we dig deeper and build a house that will stand the test of the storms and even the final judgement.
1 Peter 1:6-8 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by (A)various trials, 7 so that (B)the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes (C)though it is tested by (D)fire—may be found to result in (E)praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 (F)Though you have not seen him, you love him. (G)Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,
First our foundation has to be Christ and His death on the cross then after that we build according to the plan and purposes of God that He has established. What are you building your spiritual life with? Only a storm will tell you whether it was built correctly or with the right materials. Keep digging your foundation no matter how difficult it is and continue to build up your house on God’s word as that is the only thing that will last for eternity.