“Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29)
One of the most picturesque of the figures used to describe the Holy Scriptures is that of the hammer striking and shattering a rock. In this text, however, the “rock” is literally a mighty rock mountain.
Furthermore, the effect of the hammer is to “break in pieces.” This phrase actually is a single Hebrew word that normally means “disperse” or “scatter abroad,” usually used in describing the worldwide dispersion of the children of Israel. It was used even earlier for the first dispersion at Babel: “So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:8). Perhaps most significantly of all, it is used in the prophecy of Zechariah 13:7: “Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.”
This verse was quoted by the Lord Jesus just after the last supper and applied to Himself: “All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad” (Matthew 26:31). Combining all these themes, our text really seems to be saying: “Is not my word like a mighty hammer from heaven that shatters the great mountain and scatters it abroad?”
Our text is inserted in the midst of a stinging rebuke by Jeremiah of Israel’s false prophets, contrasting their lies with the mighty power of God’s true Word. Perhaps it is also a parable of the living Word, who is also the great Rock of ages as well as the loving Shepherd. When the Rock was shattered, the living stones were ejected from the Rock. The sheep that were thus scattered from the Shepherd became the spreading fire of the written Word, and “they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). HMM