Isaiah 8 – The Stone of Stumbling and Rock of Offense

ISAIAH 8:11-15

11     For YHWH spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,

12     ‘Say ye not, “A confederacy,” to all them to whom this people shall say, “A confederacy”; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.

13     Sanctify YHWH of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.

14     And He shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

15     And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.

For the YHWH spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me from going in the way of this people, to say: ‘You do not say “conspiracy (confederacy)” to all which this people says, “conspiracy”, and you shall not fear (the) fear of him (either what “he” fears, or what makes “him” fearful”) and you shall not be terrified.

YHWH of hosts: Him shall you sanctify and He (is) your fear and your terror. (dread)

And He becomes (is) a sanctuary and stone of striking and rock of stumbling for (the) two houses of Israel, to snare and to trap those dwelling in Jerusalem; and they many stumble in them, and they fall and are broken, and are trapped, and are seized.’”

Isaiah recorded that YHWH God instructed Isaiah to not conduct himself as the nation of Israel around him. Isaiah was to set YHWH of hosts apart, or to set himself apart to YHWH, Who was to be Whom Isaiah feared rather than the “conspiracies” that Israel feared.

God continued by saying that in Isaiah’s fearing God, He would “be for a sanctuary” for Isaiah, but a stone of stumbling and rock of offence to Israel and Judah.

In the New Testament, the “stone of stumbling” and “rock of offence” are clearly identified as referring to Jesus Christ. Peter in his first letter, quotes directly from Isaiah, and identifies the “stumbling stone” as also being that “stone which the builders rejected”, which he admonished the Sanhedrin after his first arrest, was Jesus Christ:

2:3  If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

4     To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,

5     Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

6     Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded.’

7     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,

8     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.”


Acts 4:8   Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,

9     If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;

10   Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

11   This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

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


Paul affirms Peter’s understanding, quoting Isaiah in reference to Jesus in his letter to the Romans:

9:31   But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

32   Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

33   As it is written, ‘Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.’”


And again to the Corinthians:

Cor 1:23  But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness…”

And finally, Jesus Himself rebuked the religious leaders who hated Him by reminding them of David’s words in Psalm 118 in reference to the rejection of future “builders” – religious leaders of the nation of Israel – of the promised Messiah:

Matt 21:42   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?”’”

These many New Testament references clearly identify the prophetic references to the “rejected stone” as being references to Jesus Christ, the coming Messiah of the Jews, and to that rejected stone being the same stumbling stone and rock of offence spoken of by God in Isaiah.

But YHWH speaking to Isaiah states, “YHWH of hosts Himself … shall be …. a stone of stumbling and rock of offense to …. Israel.” According to YHWH, the stumbling stone and rock of offense are Himself. Based on the words of God, of Jesus Christ, and of Paul and Peter in the New Testament, the necessary conclusion is that the stumblingstone and rock of offence in Isaiah, like the rejected stone that becomes head of the corner in Psalm 118, refer to Jesus Christ, Who is YHWH himself, the living God.

Throughout Isaiah’s writing, the record of almighty God declaring the promised Saviour to be YHWH, requires the reader to accept that Jesus Christ, Who is the promised Saviour, is also the great YHWH, the I am that I am, the Creator of the ends of the earth, the Lord GOD Almighty.