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 depends 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 the heavy rains, winds and floods, but also earthquakes, as this region is an earthquake area.
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.—Psalm 82; 11:3; Prov. 29:4.
The laying of the foundations of the earth is not to be confused with the “founding 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; Ezra 3:10-13.
As Solomon had used large, expensive hewn stones for the foundation of the temple, so the foundation cornerstone of the spiritual temple, Jesus Christ, and the apostles and prophets, who constitute the foundation thereof, are precious with God. Most appropriately, the twelve symbolic foundation stones of the New Jerusalem, built on the primary foundation Jesus Christ and bearing the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, are precious stones.—1 Ki. 5:17; 1 Pet. 2:4-6; Eph. 2:19, 20; Rev. 21:14, 19, 20.
Jesus Christ is the sure, unshakable foundation, and all built upon this foundation are selected by Jehovah. None can deceive Him and be built on the foundation if such one carries on unrighteousness. (2 Tim. 2:19) These two principles assure complete righteousness in the city, New Jerusalem, in the light of which “the nations will walk.” (Rev. 21:2, 24) It was this city with real foundations that faithful Abraham awaited as he continued dwelling in tents.—Heb. 11:10.
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 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. (Prov. 8:29, 30; Matt. 7:24-27; Luke 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 the foundation that has been laid, namely, Jesus Christ, so as not to experience loss.—1 Cor. 3:10-15.
Paul also compared certain primary Bible teachings to a foundation, and 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 CORNERSTONE; EARTH; HOUSE.