Restoring Burnt Stones - Part I
by Dr. John Tetsola
And he spoke in the presence of his brothers and the wealthy men of Samaria and said, "what are these feeble Jews doing? Are they going to restore it for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?"
Nehemiah 4:2 (NASB)
In the Scripture above, the question is raised "Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?" In chapter 4 of Nehemiah, the Scripture speaks of the once beautiful, magnificent temple at Jerusalem and the walls of the city that both lie in desolation and ruin, seemingly beyond repair. There is a sense of hopelessness in the very atmosphere.
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
1 Peter 2:5-6
The problem is that as time goes on in the kingdom of God and as we pursue purpose, we the lively stones that were once productive, active, excited, and useful are no longer what we once were. Instead, we now become burnt stones that now reside in the rubbish of our dreams and purpose. It is as if we are useless. The reason sometimes people become burnt stones is because somewhere along the building of the kingdom of God, they became offended, wounded, disappointed and angry and no longer desire to be productive, active and useful in the kingdom of God. These can even be leaders or pastors that have been destroyed by rumors, sexual immorality or financial misappropriation.
What is a Burnt Stone?
A burnt stone is a prophetic picture of the believer who has gone through certain circumstances. Spiritually and prophetically, these situations or circumstances may cause a person to burn out, or to become offended, wounded, hurt, disappointed, or to fail in some way. A burnt stone is one who has fallen out of his or her place in the wall of destiny.
The good news is that those who have been hurt, wounded and who have failed can be picked up and restored by the Nehemiahs of today, if they want to, and they can be placed back on the walls, and put back on their post. That is the heart of God.
You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?
Galatians 5:7 (NASB)
You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
Galatians 3:1 (NASB)
In the above Scripture, Paul rebuked the Galatian church by requesting to know who or what did hinder them in the race that they had begun well. In other words, what is it that caused you, who once used to be lively stones, to become burnt stones? Another translation of the word "hindered" in Galatians 5:7 is "who crossed your path?"
Every time you encounter a lively stone that has become a burnt stone, you can always tell the difference. That which was once loving, caring, running with zeal, excitement and hunger for the things of God has become lethargic and complacent. The things of God that used to excite these lively stones are no longer exciting to them. The Lord will say to you that has become a burnt stone, "Ye did run well, who did hinder you?" What and who bewitched the zeal, the call and the dream of God out of you?
If you have ever been inside a building that has been ravaged by fire, it can be a depressing sight. Firefighters use their axes to break through walls, and smash windows. What is not reduced to ashes, charred and blackened by the smoke is ruined by water damage. If there is anything salvageable, it mostly likely is permeated with the smell of smoke.
On an emotional or external level, it may look hopeless. The first impulse may be to walk away from the scene of the fire, abandon whatever may be left there and simply start over again. Many do. Then there are those who walk among the ruins in search of value in the things that have been touched by fire.
When God looks at burnt stones, He doesn't see uselessness and futility. God sees His plan and what can yet be. God is looking to be glorified in our lives. He wants our eyes to recognize and see the potential for His glory even in the midst of those circumstances. Genesis 1 tells us that this world was a formless, dark, chaotic mass when the Spirit of the living God began to move across the face of the abyss in Genesis chapter 1. God spoke to the darkness and He is still speaking to your situation right now.
Our Lord sees potential in the things that have been touched by fire of circumstances, past hurts, wounds and disappointments. He doesn't see the charring, the smoke damage, and the disfiguring effects of fire as a reason to abandon us, or to walk away. God can restore a burnt stone and set it back in its place in the wall of His destiny and purpose.
Burnt stones may not look good on the outside, but because they have been through the fire, they have been tested. It takes great faith to endure a tragic failure and then rise up again with a determination to keep pursuing a vision. It takes that kind of stone to endure the opposition and discouragement that will come during seasons of restoration. If you have not been through the testing of a serious spiritual failure, you may be too idealistic to understand what the Lord can do with burnt stones. Burnt stones may not look as good on the outside, but those who have been through the fire of failure, pain and disappointment can be used again to build.
And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.
And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.
2 Samuel 11:1
Another cause of most burnt stones - wounded, hurtful and offended people - is through the intensity of battles and warfare. There are certain times and seasons in a life, in a family, and in a church that we experience on-going conflicts, battles, struggles and warfare. Some of these battles can sometimes be very intense over the lives of people, and it can cause Christians to become offended and angry at God, hurt by the pressure, and wounded by the attacks. What usually happens in the life of an individual during these seasons is they become very depressed, despondent, discouraged, and then they lose hope in the things of God and just refuse to do anything anymore. They eventually become burnt stones.
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
A third cause of burnt stones is the feeling of broken promises. When you are believing God for something for a long period of time and never see it come to pass, this can cause an individual to become disappointed, discouraged and then offended at God. The Scripture says that hope deferred will make the heart sick. Many Christians fall into this category. The reasons some Christians are not as faithful, committed and sold out to God like they should be is because of the feeling that a promise has been broken. Whether by God, the pastor, or a brother or sister in the church. The Scripture encourages us not to be weary in well doing, because in due season we will receive a reward. Keep believing God, even if you don't see it. Don't let delay cause you to become a burnt stone.
Process of Restoring Burnt Stones
"And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
Ezekiel 11:19 (NASB)
"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26 (NASB)
In reality, burnt stones cannot build anything effective unless they are first restored. And because the enemy understands this principle, he is counting on the fact that those who have been wounded, hurt and who have failed will not desire to be restored. As long as they don't desire to be healed and restored, they will never be able to serve the purpose of God. The pursuit of purpose is the pursuit to accomplish destiny. In serving destiny, you are becoming a co-laborer in the building of God's house. No matter how burned the stone is, God can heal and restore burnt stones and put them back on the walls of destiny.
As a senior minister of a local church, I have come to believe that not every burnt stone wants to be healed and restored. Many love to nurse and rehearse their hurts, their pains and wounds. One of the great reasons for this is because they have not been taught properly about the danger and repercussions of living out of hurts, pain and disappointment.
And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us.
Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye.
And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go.
So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood.
But as one was felling a beam, the ax head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed.
And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he showed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim.
Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it.
2 Kings 6:1-7
Elisha was the understudy of the great prophet Elijah and he received a double portion of Elijah's anointing. In chapter six of 2 Kings, Elisha started a school for the prophets. The school grew and got really big and there was not sufficient room. They needed more room to expand. In the process of cutting down one of the trees for the building, one of the young student prophets lost the head of an axe when it dropped in the Jordan River. He became hysterical, upset, disappointed and hurt. He immediately cried for help from the senior prophet.
The question is: What is it that was so important about the axe head, that he was willing to cry for help and then to defy the shame, embarrassment, his ego, pride and all the arrogance which prevents most believers today from receiving restoration? The axe head must have been very important. Let us look at three very important things about the axe head that caused the young prophet to cry out for help.
First, he understood how valuable and precious the axe head is.
He understood that the axe head is the most important instrument in the life of the axe handle. The axe head to us today prophetically and symbolically represents the precious anointing that is resident in us and that enables us to effectively cut down the trees (yokes, burdens and sicknesses) of the enemy in our lives, and in the lives of others. Like the young student, we must value the anointing in us. We must understand that without it, we cannot be successful in our endeavors, and when we lose it, we must desire to have it back, and to be willing to do anything, and to defy the shame, our ego, and the pride that sometimes prevents us from receiving from God. The sharpness of the axe head is dependent on the increase of the anointing in our lives. The anointing is what lifts the burden and destroys the yokes in our lives.
The second valuable lesson of the axe head is that the young student prophet realized his insufficiency and inadequacy without the axe head.
He knew that without it, he cannot cut. He knew immediately that he had lost his ability to cut or to be on the edge of God. Like the young prophet, we must understand that without the strength of the anointing in us, we are inadequate to function properly in the things of God.
Finally, the young prophet knew that the axe head was borrowed. The word "borrow" means to obtain something on loan, on trust or on credit with the intention of returning same or an equivalent. The young prophet knew that the axe head did not originally belong to him. He knew he was a steward over what was another man's. He knew how costly and expensive the axe head was.
What we carry in our lives is owned by God. We are just stewards over it. We are to handle it with care. We are to see it as very expensive. The anointing of God upon our lives is very costly and expensive. When we understand the cost of the anointing, we will do everything to keep it and not to lose it, including crying out for help and defying our pride and ego when we slip or fail.
by Dr. John A.Tetsola