This text conjures up for me the image of a man on a chain gang, singing in cadence with his comrades as they swing their sledgehammers down onto granite boulders. Blow after blow is made, and you wonder if the man has an impossible fight against the stubborn rock. On and on it goes, but then all of a sudden it yields and splits open.
Which blow broke the rock? The last blow you say? No. All the blows did it. Unseen, the very first blow set off a reverberation in the atomic structure of the thing, and then each blow intensified it – until at last a fault opened, and then the rock broke relatively easily.
When you think about it, the last blow was actually likely the weakest. The man was more tired at the end than at the start.
God’s Word is the hammer that breaks rocks in pieces.
- We all face situations in our lives that are hard like rock. We can’t move them; can’t budge them.
- There are ideas (philosophies, thoughts, attitudes) that can be as immovable as great boulders set in the earth. You can’t seem to change people’s thinking. You just want to shake some people, but then you must recognize that there are thought patterns we have ourselves that we know are wrong, but we can’t seem to break with them.
- And then people can be hard. Hardhearted like granite rock.
But God’s Word is the hammer that breaks the rocks in pieces. Here is the thought: if we swing it, and keep on swinging it long enough and often enough, that seemingly impregnable rock must eventually give away.
How do we swing the hammer of God’s Word? 3 ways:
1. PRACTICING the Word
You swing the great hammer of God’s Word by consistently doing what it says, no matter how you may “feel” about it. Every time you obey the teachings of Scripture in your life, you are bringing God’s hammer down on your circumstances. And you can be absolutely assured that every boulder will eventually yield to the truth and the will of God.
We get disappointed at times because we impatiently look for instantaneous results. By faith we need to realize that the breaking began with the first act of obedience, even though outwardly the problem seems intact and unmoved. Keep going.
2. PREACHING the Word
In context Jeremiah 23 is about a conflict between the man of God and false prophets that were speaking in Israel and deceiving the people.
How do we put down error and raise truth? By constant blows with God’s hammer. That’s why, as a teaching pastor, I have to stick with the Word of God. God doesn’t say “Your words, Jeremiah, are like a hammer.” No, He says “My Word is a hammer.”
Look at the charge God was bringing against these false prophets in the very next verse (v30) –
“Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, says the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbor.”
Hmm. Isn’t this a word to preachers today who are tempted to stop getting the Word from God for the people? How much “sermon borrowing” and copying of other “successful” ministries goes on today? And then we say “thus saith the Lord”? Ouch!
When our leaders start just drawing from one another, instead of each seeking the Lord for themselves, it doesn’t take long for that pool to stagnate, ending in the dumbing down of the ministry to the level of our own resources and imaginations.
If I stray into preaching my own ideas and cleverness, or the latest fads and philosophies, it’s like laying the hammer aside and hitting the rock with a feather duster. You can do some “tickling” with a feather duster, but no breaking.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down (demolishing, pulverizing) arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
But again, we have to keep swinging that hammer. A new pastor doesn’t usually preach one sermon, everyone comes to the altar, the church’s problems are all fixed and they have revival.
You don’t necessarily witness to someone for the first time, and the light goes on instantaneously and they ask you “What must I do to be saved?” The Bible teaches that’s not usually how it happens. It’s a different metaphor, but the principle of swinging the hammer is seen in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 -
“One plants, another waters, but God gives the increase.”
There is a process. Many blows of the hammer.
3. PRAYING the Word
Undoubtedly the mightiest, most effective thing of all that you can do is bring down the hammer of God’s Word in prayer.
Stand on the promises of God. Some of the most powerful prayers you will ever pray are when you lay hold of God’s own Word, and remind Him of all that He has said. Some of the greatest prayers in the Bible are men doing just that.
We’ve all found that there is often a time factor involved. God’s delays are not denials. Sometimes the answer has been given after weeks, months, even years of praying and standing on the Word. Just yesterday one of our church family came with the news that his brother was being baptized after they had prayed for his salvation for 30 years!
Jesus spoke Matthew 7:7 in the present active tense. It reads something like this:
“Ask (and keep on asking) and it will be given to you, seek (and keep on seeking) and you will find, knock (and keep on knocking) and the door will be opened to you.”
Keep swinging that hammer, the hammer of His Word, in prayer.
When the rock finally breaks, it’s a mistake to think “That LAST prayer must have been a good one! That prayer must really have been full of faith.” Not necessarily. Humanly speaking, it might well have been the weakest, most fatigued prayer. But it was the Word of God you were holding onto in your prayer nevertheless. The constant blows of those prayers from the beginning set up those “reverberations” in the heavenlies and finally moved the willing hand of God at His foreordained moment.
It doesn’t require a great education or unique talent to swing a hammer. Anyone, I suppose, could learn to do it. God has given His Word to us all without prejudice, and He who cannot lie has said it will break the hardest rocks in pieces. It’s our part to have faith in it, and to swing it … put it into practice, preach it, and pray it.