Ground to Powder (PH)

Ground to Powder, by Paul Hayden.

Matthew 21:44, Luke 20:18

And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

This statement of Christ’s is mentioned twice in the Bible, in parallel passages in Matthew and Luke’s gospels. In both accounts it comes straight after the parable of the householder who plants a vineyard then goes away for a long time. Occasionally he would send a servant to check on the vineyard, but the husbandmen would always beat them and send them away. Finally he sends his son whom they put to death. This is a parable, of course, about the Jews’ dealings with all the prophets throughout their history and then finally with Christ. After telling this parable, Christ quoted from Psalm 118:22,23:

Matthew 21:42,43

Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof

The Jews had so many privileges. They were miraculously saved from slavery in Egypt by Moses, taken through a parted Red Sea, and kept for forty years in the wilderness before being taken by Joshua into a fertile land on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. On the way they were given the Law of God written on tables of stone. They were given the Scriptures. They were sent the prophets. And finally, the greatest privilege of all, through them the Saviour of the world was to be born in due time. 

But they didn’t recognise Him. And they despised the prophets and all the other means of God’s intervention. Not only that, but throughout their history, they neglected to keep the very Law that God had given them. The Bible chronicles all of this.

All along they thought that their pedigree would be enough to save them. How proud!


John 8:39

They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.

I am not getting at the Jews for this. If God had chosen any other nation to bestow upon them His special privileges, they would have done exactly the same thing. It is the pride of man that is the problem.


1 John 2:16

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

And actually, the more we look into this subject, the more dominant a theme pride is found to be in Scripture.


Genesis 6:4

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

In the very beginning of history, after the fall of Adam, and Cain murdering Abel, we come across this brief mention of believers marrying unbelievers. The children they produced became “men of renown.” i.e. men full of themselves and their own status in the world. God calls this “wickedness”:


Genesis 6:5

And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Later on, Job wanted to dispute with God as to why many unpleasant and painful things had come upon him, for what he thought was no reason. But when God finally answered, He challenged Job:


Job 40:11-14

Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him. Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret. Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.

And even King Nebuchadnezzar came to discover how the Lord was working:


Daniel 4:37

Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

God’s primary work in the world is to abase all those that walk in pride. Only God can do this. Man is so proud, he is totally incapable of bringing himself down. Yet that is exactly what the Lord requires of him:


1 Samuel 2:3

Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.

We don’t know much about the fall of Satan, but we do know that he must have fallen before man fell, because it was an already fallen serpent that met Eve in the Garden of Eden to tempt her. There are two passages in Scripture which seem to give us some understanding of Satan’s fall. The first is in Isaiah, and is primarily about the fall of the king of Babylon. The second is in Ezekiel, and is primarily about the fall of the king of Tyre:


Isaiah 14:13-15

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Ezekiel 28:13-15

Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

If we apply these passages to the fall of Satan, we see that pride was the first sin. Satan wanted to be greater than God. If we apply these passages to the fall of the relevant kings, we see that pride is the predominant sin in man, the sin from which all other sins proceed.

Given this fundamental problem with fallen human nature, we begin to see something of God’s plan for the human race. It is to completely break the pride of man in all its shapes and forms. 


Isaiah 2:11,12

The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low.

This is what the Lord is doing with every one of us. His ultimate aim is to completely destroy our pride and to make sure that, in the end, God alone is exalted:


1 Corinthians 1:29

That no flesh should glory in his presence.

And how does He do this? God has provided a “stone.” It’s mentioned in Psalm 118:


Psalm 118:22

The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.

Notice here that the “stone” that is going to be rejected by some, is the very same “stone” that will be embraced by others as their head corner stone. Of course this refers to Jesus Christ, who is at the same time a savour of life to those who are going to be saved, and a savour of death to those who reject Him: 


2 Corinthians 2:15,16

For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.

Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation:


Acts 4:12

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

To those who will be saved, He is precious, but to those who will reject Him, He is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence:


1 Peter 2:7,8

Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

Let’s look at our text again:


Matthew 21:44, Luke 20:18

And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

When I first came across this statement, I thought that the ones who fall on the stone were true believers, because it is good for us to be broken. In contrast, the ones ground to powder are the unbelievers, because they will be destroyed. But I’ve now completely changed my mind. I now realise that exactly the opposite is the case. 

I would suggest that when it says “whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken,” it is talking about all those who stumble at the “rock of offence,” the disobedient, those who do not come to the Saviour. They will live their lives full of their own importance, full of their own pride in themselves, but in the end they will fall on the stumbling stone of Christ and be broken by the Lord.

On the other hand, those who will have the stone fall on them, to be ground to powder, these are true believers. We should want Christ to fall on us. All right, put it another way – we should want the Holy Spirit to fall on us. Does that sound better? We should want an end of ourselves, our selfish desires and lusts. We, as true believers, should want our pride to be ground to powder. And that is exactly what Christ does in our sanctification.

When we come to the Lord, the rock of our pride is dealt a fatal blow. It has been cracked. No longer will it reign supreme. But there is still so much pride within us that needs to be dealt with. For the rest of our lives, we need to take the fragments of remaining pride and have them ground and ground and ground by Christ, until all that is left is powder.

Moses ground the golden calf to powder: 

Exodus 32:20

And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

This is what we should do with all false idols and delusions of grandeur in our life. 

King Josiah was the only king of Judah who actually managed to get rid of the idols in the land, and he ground them to powder so that absolutely nothing remained:


2 Kings 23:6

And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.


2 Kings 23:15

Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove.


2 Chronicles 34:7

And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.

And Isaiah compared the iniquity of Judah to chalkstones, not granite. Stones that can be beaten down and crushed until there is only powder left:


Isaiah 27:9

By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.

The Christian’s calling is to renounce self, abase self, and be finished with self. Self must be ground to powder, so that eventually God alone will be glorified in our lives:


Matthew 23:12

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.


1 Peter 5:6

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.


Isaiah 40:4,5

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.


Luke 9:23,24

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

This is the Christian life. It is totally the opposite from the “it’s all about me” philosophy of the world. And God will not finish dealing with us until the last vestiges of pride have been completely exterminated. 

That’s why we receive trials in our lives. That’s why God has put us all in decaying bodies which eventually die. Only on a death-bed are we weak and humbled enough for God. Let us therefore live our lives as though we were always on our death-beds. 


2 Corinthians 1:9

But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God.


2 Corinthians 4:7-11

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.


Romans 6:6,7,11.

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.... reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We are finished with self. Living for God alone is the Christian’s calling.


2 Corinthians 12:9,10

My strength is made perfect in weakness....For when I am weak, then am I strong.