Rock of Ages
Originally scheduled for August 27
Christians of a certain age will recognize the
hymn, Rock of Ages. In
many churches today the song is essentially forbidden since it is
not normally accompanied by drums, guitars and other modern
instruments. Let us take a look at this old hymn.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide
myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
from wrath and make me pure.
The story of its writing, as told to me, is
that Augustus Toplady, the author, was taking a walk in nature when
a sudden rainstorm came on. He found a crack in the rock formations
nearby which allowed him to shelter until the rain went on. This
given the inspiration for the hymn. When he played it for one of his
friends, the man told him, “God has given you a hymn that will never
die.” For many years this hymn was quite popular in many different
denominations. Toplady extended a physical cleft into a niche large
enough to contain all the sinners of the world.
Perhaps the author was influenced by the
experience of Moses. Moses asks God to show him his glory. God
replies that he will show him instead these four things:
But not his glory. When that passes by, Moses
is covered by the hand of God so that he may not see it. God tells
him that no one may see his glory and live. The passage is dark and
rather mysterious and has given rise to a number of interpretations.
Communion, in a small sense, reflects this too.
God wants to show you his glory, but you can’t handle it — not yet.
So he shows you his goodness and his compassion, his grace and the
power of his Name. For in communion you are handling the body and
blood of Christ, sacrificed on Calvary for your salvation. Until
Christ returns, and we are transformed into what his children will
be, we are to look instead at his body and blood as evidence of his
grace and compassion. He took pity on us; by his power he forgave
us. Thus is his goodness satisfied and sworn by his Name. So as you
partake this morning remember that he has provided you a place in
the rock where the wrath of God is kept at bay by the goodness and
grace shown at the cross.