Fragments of our lives (Exodus 32:15-19)
In 2008, the news agency Reuters reported that archaeologists in Israel unearthed the oldest fragment of Hebrew words on a broken piece of pottery. Hebrew text found on a broken piece of pottery. The Hebrew inscription included several words like judge, slave and king. The discovery was made at a 10th century old fotress in the Elah valley. And both tradition and the Bible tells us that Elah valley was the place where David defeated Goliath.
In May 2020, a friend in Israel informed me that this piece of broken fragment was given a place of honor in the Israel Museum.
Question: What should be done with a fragment bearing the signature of God?
To begin, what is brokenness?
In 2008, shortly after we arrived in Israel, the oldest fragment of Hebrew was discovered on a piece of pottery at a 10th Century fortress in the Elah Valley. Just a shard with a Hebrew inscription of legal text. Today, that broken fragment has a place of honor in the Israel Museum. As Shavuot or Pentecost approaches, the memorial of both the giving of the Law and the Holy Spirit, I thought it would be appropriate to ask, what should be done with a broken fragment bearing the signature of God. I have also been thinking about broken pieces I carry in my own life. Though the Bible does not tell us what Moses did with those pieces, tradition tells us he gathered them carefully, placing them in Ark of the Covenant beside the second whole set. Maybe you also carry some brokenness, despite the gift of salvation, which can never fully be mended. If so, I want to encourage you. The story of the first set of commandments tell us that God’s touch is still in the fragments.
1. “The tablets were the work of God.” For this reason alone, Moses could not throw the pieces away. You too are the work of God. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” I Cor. 6: 19 The first tablets were formed from special rock, hewn by God Himself. You still bear His image, despite your brokenness. 2. “The writing was the writing of God.” The penmanship of every author is unique. Recently, computer A.I. has been used to identify the unique hand of the various Dead Sea scribes of two-thousand years ago. But what if something bears the script of the Almighty? It can never be thrown away! It may never be whole, but it still has His special touch. Tragically, a Pastor recently took his life. The article noted how had worked to overcome past failures. Somewhere along the way, this man forgot that his broken life was still precious, bearing the signature of God. We dare not throw away such a gift. 3. “Engraved on Tablets.” These tablets were said to be sapphire, 9 on the hardness scale, one step below diamond. They were engraved in such a way that God’s touch could not be erased. God promises to write His commandments on the tablets of our heart - engraved for eternity. Along the journey we will carry brokenness. Broken health, relationships, broken hearts. We may even, like Moses, be responsible for breaking God’s gift. What can we do with our brokenness? Gather up the fragments, and place them in the Ark. The Ark represented the presence of God. Can you put broken fragments in His presence? That is the only thing you can do. He made them, His signature is upon them, and they are eternally stamped. Let me say it clearly. He made us, and we are eternally bear His image. Along the way, the Lord will help you to make new tablets. No, they will not be the same this time. You may have to hew them yourself, but they will yet be written with the finger of God. So, let us “gather the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost”, and place them in His presence today. He is waiting.