One of the challenges of our Christian walk is to stop relying on ourselves and doing things our own way.
An allegory of this is found in the building Solomon’s Temple. The site of the Temple was holy. So all preparation of materials had to be done off-site. There was not to be the sound of chiselling of stone on the Temple location. The stonemasons had to know what they needed, shape the stone at the quarry and bring it to location ready to fit in place.
“And the house, under construction, was built of stone made ready before it was brought to site: so there was neither hammer, axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was being built.” 1Kings 6:7
Chiselling the stone can speak of our own efforts to make things right. In God’s holy temple there is not to be human effort to make things right.
You, as a believer in Christ are the ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’ (1Corinthians 6:19) so there is not to be human effort in your walk with God.
Another allegory is the comparison between Hagar, Abraham’s Egyptian slave girl, and Sarah, Abraham’s wife, and thus Ishmael, Abraham’s first born son to the slave girl, and Isaac, Abraham’s son born to his wife according to God’s promise.
The Apostle Paul links Hagar to human effort and Sarah to God’s blessing in the fulfilment of God’s promises.
“His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh (human effort), but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.” Galatians 4:23
Abraham tried to fulfil God’s promise by a human idea, having a child born to Sarah’s slave girl. This represents the times when we try to bring God’s blessings by our own ideas and energies. All we do is create a problem, as Ishmael was to Abraham and Isaac.
You might at times hear a Christian turn down a suggestion of doing something to help God out, by saying “I don’t want to birth an Ishmael!”
Another reflection of this is Ezekiel’s vision of Jewish priests who were not to wear garments of wool, so they would not sweat.
“They are to wear linen headwear and have linen undergarments around their waist; they will not wear anything that causes sweat.” Ezekiel 44:18
There was not to be sweat in God’s presence. That is to say, we are not to work up a sweat trying to make things happen, but to walk with God, relying on Him.
Sadly many Christians fill their lives with chiselling, birthing Ishmael’s and working up a sweat. Then they wonder why their lives are so full of problems and complications.
A Christian man came to me many years ago trying to offload a property he had developed. He had tried to pass it off to many others before he came to me. He had a vision of something he thought was a good idea but it turned out to be of no value or interest to anyone. He created an Ishmael that was a problem to him and of no value to anyone else. Maybe you have a few of those in your life too?
God is your source and there is no better source than God, Himself.
God is your protection and there is not better protection than God, Himself.
God is your guide and hope and there is no better guide or hope than God, Himself.
Yet is that a chisel I see in your hand? Is there an Ishmael running around your camp? Is that sweat I smell?
Put down that chisel and ask God to forgive you for trying to make things happen without simply relying on Him.
Ishmael was cast out, since he had no part in God’s blessings. You may have to shut down something you have started that is not of God. If you keep and protect it you will simply be making trouble for yourself.
And stop sweating about things. If God has everything under control what in the world are you fretting about? Trust Him! Renounce your fear and insecurity. Commit your way to Him. Cast your cares onto Him. Let God be God in your situation.
God may not solve things the way you want Him to. He may not give you what you want. But He will only do you good. Even if He rebukes you, it is for your good. So trust Him and abandon yourself on Him. Give Him your problems and challenges and allow Him to tell you what to do. And, if He takes His time, trust Him in the waiting. Don’t birth an Ishmael, thinking God isn’t going to give you an Isaac.
Your other risk is that you will achieve things, thinking you have advanced your cause, but there will be no blessing in what you gain. What have you truly achieved if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul? (Mark 8:36)
For everyone’s sake, I urge you, Stop Chiselling!