66. Bricks Without Straw

 “God sends no one away empty
  except those who are full of themselves.”
 — Dwight L. Moody

 

“The bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with hewn stone”…

The Lord said to Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” And Pharaoh replied, “No!”

Who could really blame him? After all, the Israelites were the unpaid work force for his empire. They were excellent brick makers, and the Egyptian Pharaoh needed them.

To make his point, Pharaoh ordered that the brick makers produce their regular quota of bricks, but without the key ingredient that held them together! Obviously, when it came to defying the Israelites’ God. he just didn’t get it.

It wasn’t long before the king of Egypt got a taste of what can happen when you mess with the Lord God of the Israelites! (You can read all about that in Exodus 3-14.)

Fast forward about 700 years, to the aftermath of the Assyrian conquest. The Israelites who had miraculously remained in the Promised Land after the northern tribes were extracted, looked around at all the broken bricks that had been their capital city. They shook their fists in defiance and reasoned, “We will rebuild with gazit stone!” Gazit is the Hebrew  term for hewn stone – quarried and chiseled out of mountain rock. It was much stronger than brick and less likely to crumble under the feet of future enemies.

Another 700+ years went by…. Jesus and His disciples were standing around looking at the second temple buildings – constructed from Gazit Stone. And out of the blue, Jesus remarked: “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2). Sure enough, a few decades after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the disobedient Jews’ wall of protection was breached once again. This time by the Romans.  Their military legions set the temple on fire. (I’m not sure why they were successful, since it was made primarily out of rock. Then they pried the massive stones apart to retrieve gold that had melted into open cracks.

At that point, God delivered on another curse detailed in Deuteronomy 28 – “You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number, because you did not obey the Lord your God…. Then the Lord will scatter you among the nations, from one end of the earth to the other” (Deut. 28:62-64).

After the Roman onslaught in 70 A.D., the descendants of Israel were relocated over time into every country on earth. They remained scattered, with no homeland, until 1948, when the Jews were gathered again as a nation into the land promised to Abraham by the Lord God. Since then, they have dealt continually with open hostility from their extremely distant relatives, the descendants of Ishmael and Esau!

After 9/11, the Lord God was carefully watching over infant Israel, but He still had His eye on America. On July 4, 2004, another harbinger unexpectedly appeared in New York City.  A massive, twenty-ton, rectangular Gazit Stone, quarried from the Adirondack Mountains – was moved to the corner of Ground Zero. It was later dedicated with great fanfare in a solemn ceremony. New York Governor George Pataki declared that the stone would “forever remain a symbolic cornerstone for the rebuilding of New York and America.” Governor Pataki added, “By laying this magnificent cornerstone of hope, we are sending a message to the people around the world.”

Like so many symbols that are expected to remain relevant forever, the “Freedom Stone,” as it was christened, was removed from its place of honor in 2006 and given back to the company that had provided it. Turned out, it didn’t fit into the revised plans for the Freedom Tower.

And it’s been sitting in the backyard of the company’s headquarters ever since.

 

“The Lord foils the plans of nations;
He thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,

the purposes of His heart through all generations.”

(Psalm 33:10-11)

A RUST REMOVER …

How often do you ask the Lord about your plans and purposes? Set aside fifteen minutes within the next 24 hours to seek Him, listen for His voice interjected into your thoughts, and then move forward with assurance. I’m praying the Lord will reveal Himself to you in an extraordinary way.