“Is not My word like a fire?” says the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”
A Hammer on a Rock
Hammers come in all shapes and sizes. There are jackhammers, sledgehammers, claw hammers and ball peen hammers, to name a few. Each one is designed with a certain task in mind. A jackhammer breaks up asphalt. A sledgehammer drives stakes into the ground. A claw hammer drives nails through lumber. A ball peen hammer is frequently used by machinists. But all hammers have one ultimate purpose: to enable the user to penetrate a hard substance.
As God viewed Israel in the time of Jeremiah, He saw a nation whose heart had become exceedingly hard. The kings (or shepherds) failed in their responsibility to lead the people as they ought. Instead of guiding them to green pastures, many of the kings led the people into the wilderness of idolatry and immorality (Jer. 23:1-2). Even the religious leaders, whose job was to exhort the people to righteousness, hardened their hearts against God. He declared that both prophet and priest were profane (v. 11). Something was needed to penetrate these callused hearts. That’s why God proclaimed that His Word would not only be like a fire to burn away the chaff, but also like a hammer, powerful enough to shatter the rock-hard hearts of His people.
The Bible tells us that sin hardens the heart (Eph. 4:17-19). The longer a person rebels against God, the harder his heart becomes. But we must never underestimate the power of God’s Word. Sometimes it touches our lives gently and brings comfort and healing. At other times it comes down like a sledgehammer with a blow that breaks our hearts into pieces. The more we choose to harden our hearts against God and His will, the more devastating the blow.
Ask God to reveal if your heart has become hardened toward Him. And if you sense it has, allow Him to use His Word to shatter any hardness you might find.
Better a shattered heart than a hardened heart.