“‘Can [those feeble Jews] bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble – burned as they are?'”
Last time we continued deeper into Sanballat’s mockery of the rebuilding Jews, listening in as he taunted their commitment and sacrifice. Today he brings up past disgrace and ridicules their ability to renew it.
The first word from today’s section we’ll focus on is chayah – to live, make alive, nourish (from chavah – to declare, show to live). It is used in Sanballat’s rhetorical question for whether the Jews can bring stones back to life. Imagine him standing before these committed men (and women) taunting their ability to nourish stones. It is just too much like the enemy with Jesus in the wilderness. In a time when He was subjecting Himself to human hunger and loneliness, the enemy attacks. Can He turn something dead into something nourishing? And, in this case, will He use His authority out of line with His Father’s will?
The reason the stones were burned and in a heap of rubble was due to the Jews’ own disobedience. That’s why the taunt is a low blow. Have you ever been there? Finally able to pick up your work tools and join with God and the people He’s put in your life to rebuild, only to be reminded the reason you need to is past sin?
Don’t fall for the taunts. Our God is a God Who specializes in bringing stones to life. Heck, He can even make rocks cry out and mountains and hills burst into song if He has the mind to. If the Creator of all is calling you to nourish something dead back to life, obey and watch Him work.
Our nation is in need of some hope right now. So much devastation, heartbreak even this very week. I can’t think of a better Hope than knowing there is One Who sees all, knows our pain & past sin, and is ready and willing to show His ability to breathe life into something dead. May we as His people pick up whatever work tool we have been given and join Him.
Let’s roll the next phrase into one focus. These dead stones Sanballat is mocking are said to be out of a heap (aremah – rubble) of rubbish (aphar – dust, ashes). Even further he goes. Not just stones, obliterated stones. Rubble as insignificant as dust and ashes. Completely incapable of being used to rebuild. Even (hem – used emphatically) burned (saraph – utterly kindled, undertaker).
Well, Sanballat makes sure his ridicule hits the mark. But even ashes are no match for the Jews’ Yahweh. When Jesus – Yahweh walking around on the dust of His created earth with skin on – announced His ministry in his hometown, He used Isaiah 61 to declare it before the people listening.
Let’s hear it today with a fresh heart:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
though they have been deserted for many generations.”
Good news to the poor and freedom for those captive. Comfort for brokenhearted and favor for those who mourn. Ancient ruins rebuilt and praise instead of despair. Beauty for ashes.
What a Savior! Such a Healer and Restorer. And any temporary, earthly evidence of the above will only be ultimately fulfilled in the future. When He makes all things new.
Let’s praise Him today.