A Wise Man Builds on Rock and a Fool on Sand
Matt 7:24-27 Luke 6:47-49
When Yah Jesus told the story of the builders he likely had the following proverb in mind: When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand form for ever (Proverbs 10:25). What’s the significance of the story for us? The kind of foundation we build our lives upon will determine whether we can survive the storms that are sure to come. Builders usually lay their foundations when the weather and soil conditions are at their best. It takes foresight to know how a foundation will stand up against adverse conditions. Building a house on a flood plain, such as a dry river-bed, is a sure bet for disaster! Yah Jesus prefaced his story with a warning: We may fool humans with our speech, but God cannot be deceived. He sees the heart as it truly is — with its motives, intentions, desires, and choices (Psalm 139:2). There is only one way in which a person’s sincerity can be proved, and that is by one’s practice. Fine words can never replace good deeds. Our character is revealed in the choices we make, especially when we are tested. Perhaps more than all else, the biblical wise man receives God’s Law and keeps it. He builds his whole life upon it. So feeble is wickedness.
In 1174 the Italian architect Bonnano began work on what would become his most famous project: A bell tower for the local Cathedral. The tower was to be eight-stories and 185 feet high. There was just one “little” problem: builders quickly discovered that the soil was much softer than they had anticipated, and the foundation was too shallow to hold the structure. And sure enough, before long the bell tower began to tilt… and it continued to tilt… until finally the architect and the builders realized that nothing could be done to make what became known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa straight again.
It took 176 years to complete and many attempts were made to compensate for the “tilt.” The foundation was shored up; the upper levels were even built at an angle to try to make the top of the tower look straight. Nothing worked. The tower has stood for over 800 years, but leans about 17 feet away from where it should be and was closed in 1990 for fear that it would fall and cause loss of life and injury. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a vivid reminder that foundations may well be hidden but they are essential. As we come to the end of this series of studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus brings us to his application, our take away and he challenges us to check our foundations before it is too late.
In 1990 the Tower was closed because it was in real danger of toppling over. But an international team of architects and engineers got to work to solve the problem. They took 12 years and spent $25 million to reduce the tilt by 45 centimetres. It still leans today but not by as much as it used to. Opened again in 2001, you can climb the 284 steps to the top, admire a fine view over Pisa and the surrounding countryside. But now tourists are limited to groups of 30 people at a time and you have to book in advance. Engineers say it should now survive for another 200 years at least.
The foundation of the Tower of Pisa was repaired and there is more work that can be done. The same is true of you and me. It is not too late if we heed these words of Yah Jesus.