Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bricks vs. Stones

Genesis 11:3-4
They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

Exodus 1:14
They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.

As we read this week in our Torah portion about the bricks being made by the Israelites, I started thinking about the idea of bricks and the teachings I have heard on them. My favorite, by Rabbi Daniel Lapin, shows us how bricks are man made creations, they are made in such a way that they portray uniformity, mans way of being one, at peace with one another. Bricks are made to fit together and create a monument to the handiwork of man. They are not a reflection of the sovereignty of God. Bricks are what our society wants. Human beings that fit together nicely, building a strong society that looks, thinks and behaves the same, yet taking pride in our diversity, while never judging. A trophy to mankind showing that without a god we can become one, a strong functioning, diverse unit. If only we would all behave according to the standard, a worldly standard, not a godly standard.

I also thought about the process of brick making. Slapping together the mud, sand and straw. Spending hours each day mixing, forming, drying and baking to produce more bricks to become apart of a larger project. A project that was not God's desire in the first place. How often are we caught up in a brick making project, working endlessly toward a goal that in the end has no spiritual significance for us, does not cause us to grow in our walk with the Lord or reflect His light into creation?

1 Peter 2:4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Messiah Yeshua.

Then I thought about stones, as Rabbi Lapin says, stones are made by God. What a contrast. This beautiful picture above shows us the true diversity in stones. They are different sizes, shapes and colors. Stones start off jagged and broken and as they are tumbled about the earth, being washed with water, rolled through sand and tumbling against other stones, they become smooth, polished and beautiful.

As we walk through life, we are also being washed by His word, smoothed and polished. As we have encounters with other people we are being rubbed and our rough spots worn down. As we are caught on someones jagged edge, we must remember that we have them too, we still need smoothing and a forgiving heart as we are being used to smooth the rough spots on our brethren.

Exodus 20:25 If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it.

The altar was always to be made of stones, never bricks or stones that have had a tool used on them. The tool would be mans way of smoothing the stones, or bricks. And as we know from experience our way is rarely God's way. Allowing Him to create the stones upon which we would offer our sacrifice is the way. He gave us the Living Stone, our Messiah upon Him we can make our sacrifice daily of our own desires, or own way of doing things. Lay down our tools and take up His Torah. His teaching and way of living, so that we can walk in abundant life found in His wisdom.

Stones are what build up the Kingdom of God, bricks are what build up the kingdom of man. Let us be found pleasing in His sight, loving one another and working for His Kingdom.

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