The base, or substructure, on which a building is erected and which serves to distribute the weight of the superstructure equally over the ground. Since the strength and permanence of a building depend largely on the strength of its foundation, great care must be exercised in laying the foundation. Good foundations were vital in Palestine to withstand not only heavy rains, winds, and floods but also earthquakes, as this region is an earthquake area. A number of Hebrew terms rendered “foundation” come from the root ya·sadhʹ, meaning “found; lay the foundation; solidly fix.” (Isa 23:13; 51:13; Ps 24:2) The Greek term is the·meʹli·os, used in a literal sense in Acts 16:26.
The Master Builder Jehovah, in answering Job out of the windstorm, compared the literal earth to a building. (Job 38:4-7) Though the earth hangs upon nothing, it has, as it were, durable foundations that will not be made to totter, for the unchangeable laws governing the universe hold it firmly in place, and God’s purpose toward the earth has remained unchanged. (Job 26:7; 38:33; Ps 104:5; Mal 3:6) On the other hand, injustice and disobedience to God’s law in effect tear down the foundations that give stability to the land, causing the foundations of the figurative earth (the people and their established systems) to totter.—Ps 82; 11:3; Pr 29:4.
The laying of the foundations of the earth is not to be confused with “the founding [Gr., ka·ta·bo·lesʹ] of the world.” From Jesus’ words at Luke 11:48-51, it is evident that Abel lived at the founding of the world, which has reference to mankind. The planet Earth’s foundations had long previously been laid.—See ABEL No. 1; WORLD.
The laying of a foundation was apparently a time for joy. At the ‘founding of the earth’ the angels shouted in applause. Also, great rejoicing attended the laying of the foundation of Zerubbabel’s temple, although those who had seen the glory of the former temple gave way to weeping.—Job 38:4, 6, 7; Ezr 3:10-13.
As Solomon had used large, costly hewn stones for the foundation of the temple, so a foundation that is precious to God is laid for the “spiritual house” in which Jesus’ anointed followers are “living stones.” Jesus himself is the foundation cornerstone; upon the foundation of the apostles and Christian prophets the rest of the holy ones are built up into “a place for God to inhabit by spirit.” All the “stones” making up this spiritual house are selected by Jehovah.—1Pe 2:4-6; Eph 2:19-22; see CORNERSTONE.
Most appropriately, the 12 symbolic foundation stones of the New Jerusalem, bearing the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb, are precious stones. (Re 21:14, 19, 20) The New Jerusalem described in Revelation is made up of the 144,000 who are betrothed to the bridegroom. The “heavenly Jerusalem” mentioned at Hebrews 12:22 comprises 144,001, this “one” being the bridegroom King. It is the city with real foundations that Abraham awaited. (Heb 11:10) Thus, the Bible books of Hebrews and Revelation show a close identity between the “heavenly Jerusalem” and the New Jerusalem.
Jesus, who had in his prehuman existence worked alongside his Father as a Master Worker at the laying of earth’s foundations, fully appreciated the value of a solid foundation, as is seen from his illustration of the discreet man who went down deep and laid the foundation for his house on a rock-mass, whereas the foolish man built his house upon the sand and suffered severe loss. (Pr 8:29, 30; Mt 7:24-27; Lu 6:47-49) Likewise, in comparing the task of making Christians to a building work, Paul stressed the importance of building with noncombustible materials on Jesus Christ as the foundation, so as not to experience loss.—1Co 3:10-15.
Paul also compared certain primary Bible teachings to a foundation, and he encouraged the Hebrews not to become static upon having learned the primary doctrine about the Christ but to press on to maturity.—Heb 6:1, 2; see EARTH; HOUSE.