“Bricks Without Straw” by Paula Yingst

“God sends no one away empty

except those who are full of themselves.”

— Dwight L. Moody

BRICKS WITHOUT STRAW

“The bricks have fallen,

but we will rebuild

with hewn stone” …

When the Lord said to Pharaoh, “Let my people go!”, Pharaoh replied, “No!” And who could really blame him? After all, the Israelites were the unpaid workforce for his empire. They were excellent brick makers, and the Egyptian Pharaoh needed them.

Pharaoh obviously didn’t get it, though, when it came to the issue of defying the Israelites’ God. Because, to make a point, Pharaoh increased the level of suffering and ordered that the brick makers produce their regular quota, but without the key ingredient that held them together!

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 miraculously remained in the Promised Land — those who had not been taken captive — looked around at all the broken bricks that had been their capitol city. They shook their fists in defiance and reasoned, “We will rebuild with gazit stone!” Gazit stone was a hewn stone — quarried and chiseled out of mountain rock. It was much stronger than brick and less likely to crumble beneath the onslaught of future enemies.

Another 700+ years went by … Jesus and his disciples were standing around looking at the second temple buildings — no doubt constructed from gazit stone. 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 Jews’ wall of protection was breached once again, this time by the Romans. Soldiers set the temple on fire — I’m not sure why they were successful since it was made out of rock — then they pried the massive stones apart to retrieve gold that had melted between the cracks.

At that point, God delivered on another curse detailed in Deuteronomy 28 — “You who are 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” (Deuteronomy 28:62-64).

After the Roman onslaught in 70 A.D., most of the descendants of Israel were literally relocated to every known country on earth, and they remained without a 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!

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. During the dedication ceremony, it was declared that the stone would “forever remain a symbolic cornerstone for the rebuilding of New York and America.” Governor George 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 that 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 the nations;

He thwarts the purposes of the people.

But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,

the purposes of His heart through all generations.”

(Psalm 33:10-11)

CONSIDER THIS: How often do you ask the Lord about your plans and purposes? Set aside 15 minutes within the next 24 hours to seek Him, listen for His voice interjected into your thoughts, and then move forward with assurance.

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