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May 2011

Rock of Ages: Hope in Death

While I draw this fleeting breath
When my eyes shall close in death
When I soar to worlds unknown
See Thee on Thy judgment-throne
Rock of Ages cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee
– Fourth verse of Rock of Ages

As our first monthly hymn focus comes to a close, we end by focusing on verse 4 of Rock of Ages. In this hymn over the past few weeks we have sung about our inapproachability to God apart from a Mediator; we’ve sung about the double cure that only Christ can provide for us; we’ve sung about the futility of our own works in securing salvation; and last week, we sang about how there is no other covering for our nakedness but the robe of Christ’s righteousness. How there is nothing short of God’s unmerited grace to meet our helplessness, and there is no other fountain to wash away our foulness, apart from the water and blood that poured from the side, or cleft, of Christ on the cross. Through all these verses, Christ has been our rock, and it is only in his cleft that we must be found. We don’t depart from this theme even here at the end, just explore something new as we sing of God’s righteous judgment.

The author of this hymn understood that the only hope he had in this life to be saved was through the Rock of Ages, cleft for him, Jesus Christ. And as we come to verse 4, we hear the author proclaiming that at the hour of his death, the only hope that he will have standing before a holy and just God, will be the same Rock of Ages, cleft for him, Jesus Christ. The only place of safety for his eternal soul is in Jesus. His only hope in life is Christ, and his only hope in death is Christ.

My question to you is, “What is your hope in?” Is your hope in politics? Is your hope in your financial security? Is your hope in your health? Is your hope simply in your own comfort?

Or, as we read in Romans 8:35-39, is your hope that nothing can separate you from the love of God in Jesus Christ, not suffering and not even death. Jesus died and rose again to bear our sins. He became our curse. He endured our condemnation that we deserved for a holy and just God. He removed all our guilt and shame. And he secured our everlasting joy in the presence of the all-satisfying God.

The hope that we sing of is only found in the Rock of Ages, cleft for you and me, Jesus Christ. If you have whole-heartedly trusted him as your Savior and your King, then you are folded into the love of God in a way that no terrorist, no torture, no demons, no disasters, no disease, no man, no microbe, no government, and ultimately no grave can ever destroy. This hope in Christ grants us joy in the all-satisfying glory of God which will continue on through death and increase for all eternity.

So as you sing this verse, let thankfulness, let peace, let this assurance wash over you as we magnify the greatness of God’s holiness, justice, righteousness, sovereignty, power, mercy, kindness, and grace in judging his son in our place on the cross. His undeserved kindness has enabled us to be forgiven, to be adopted as precious children, and to anticipate unending joy at God’s right hand in the new heavens and the new earth.


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