I’ve seen what a hammer can do to a thumb; not mine. My real life swings of the hammer have merely bruised my thumb; however, leaving me hopping spasmodically as if I was passing a kidney stone, and making me wonder what would happen if I did this for a living. The sensitive nerve endings told me never to do that again. I feebly consented. But people that really know how to weald that tool lose their nail (the one on them) and ruin their career as a hand model. These genuine carpenters are accustomed to hitting target, so they cut loose with reckless abandon. When large and heavy mass of professionally forged steel connects with speed and force the skin, capillaries, bone, muscle, and connective tissue, steel beats thumb, resulting in a Picasso-like appendage not resembling a human body part. Me? I tap out a system of dots and dashes before I bend, straighten, start over, bend again, grab second nail, finally succeed, inspect, smile, and then repeat. My thumb twitches like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown, knowing the faulty guidance system that sends the hammer head careening in its direction.
We all know the damage a hammer can do. Perhaps that’s what you think of when you read this:
Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?
The word “hammer” in the singular and plural is found only ten times in the King James Version, translating four different Hebrew terms. The hammer (maqqebeth) in Judges 4:21 that Jael used to kill Sisera was a smallish hammer that was used to drive nails. In Jeremiah 23:29 above, the word is pattiysh (pat-teesh), a blacksmith’s hammer. A blacksmith’s hammer can do a lot of damage to a hunk of rock or metal. If the metal or rock could feel pain, they might even cry out. However, to alter the shape of a rock or metal, a tool must be used that, properly applied, can generate a great deal of power or force. This hammer is an agent of change, transforming pieces of raw iron and coarse stone into articles useable, productive, and often beautifulâ€”horse shoes, swords, steps, walls, fences, statues, tile, and chain. A hammer can do major damage, but this blacksmith’s hammer that is the Word of God will reshape someone into a useful instrument for God’s will.
The Bible is seed (Mark 4:14) that when sown can bring forth fruit, “some thirty fold, some sixty, and some an hundred” (Mark 4:20). However, some of that seed falls on stony ground (Mark 4:5, 16, 17) or the hard-packed, impenetrable wayside soil (Mark 4:4, 15). Stony ground was a few inches of topsoil covering hard limestone where a plant could find no root. It grows up awhile with flourishing foliage, but without root, it withers away. The seed doesn’t change, but if either of these two recipients is going to receive the Word and bear fruit, they will need to be broken up. The soil is the heart and the heart of an individual, among other things, can become hard. Ezekiel wrote (11:19; 36:26):
And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh.
The hammer of God’s Word can break up the stony heart to prepare it for even greater ministry from the Word of God in the converting of the soul. The Bible can do the hammer-like preparation, removing whatever impedes the germination of the seed.
The jackhammer is a modern invention that does the biggest jobs dependent on an external source of power. No matter how hard I might try, I can’t find the jackhammer in Scripture. But wait. Unplug a jackhammer and it is a useless tool. Plug it in and you get the work of a hammer beyond any man in force and repetition. “The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). A man can weald a hammer, but with the power of God’s Spirit he gets the drive and duplication of a jackhammer. A man’s words can impact someone’s life, but the Word of God with the power of the Spirit not only saves, but keeps sanctifying a life until it conforms to the image of the Son.
I’m not good at swinging a hammer, but I don’t plan on using one for this blog. I’m planning on using a jackhammer.