“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” (Matthew 7:24)
I think the crucial historical facts that we need for understanding the Parable of the House Built on Rock would be:
1. In ancient Palestine, the vast majority of newly married men served a surveyor, architect, engineer, general contractor, zoning lawyer, and brick layer for the modest dwelling of the new family.
2. If you lived on a rocky hillside, your choice of building site would pretty much make itself. But if you lived in a valley or on the open plain, you had to consider what might happen during October and November.
During the rainy season, storms burst forth with great suddenness. Sandy areas immediately found themselves coursing with little rivers of run-off.
So the prudent homebuilder would excavate the sand to find the rocky stratum below. He would never lay his first course of bricks on anything other than a large, solid rock. Because he knew that the day would come when a stream of fast-running water would break against whatever his first course of bricks sat on. If those bricks sat on sand: see ya! Collapse.
Once the parable’s image crystallizes in our imaginations, the meaning comes clear to us as easily as any of the parables of Christ.
Storms will come. Our relationship with God will be subjected to pressures, extreme pressures. If we flimflam our way through our prayers, we will wind up naked and exposed to every gust of wind and squall of rain.
But if Christ comes first; if He comes first on the balmy, temperate days; if He comes first on the cozy, crisp winter days; if He comes first even on the days when life is easy, then, when the storms rage, we will have a warm and cozy house in which to shelter ourselves.