“The Jewish Carpenter”
July 10, 2012
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“The Jewish Carpenter”
As we visited the Daniel Boone homestead last week I was impressed with the carpentry used some 250 years ago. The main support beams were constructed by mortise and tenon with a wood peg driven in to keep it in place. It’s an ancient construction method that has proven to be enduring. The photo to the right shows a mortise and tenon joint used in a barn built in 1832 in Lancaster County on Galen Martin’s farm.
I visit regularly with some employees in a home improvement company who use their carpentry skills vocationally and are quite proficient, but it’s rather doubtful that they would use this primitive type of joint. Here’s a view of how a mortise and tenon joint works. It’s a very labor intensive skill requiring a hand tool such as a chisel.
Last week I referred to family businesses in the Bible and alluded to a family of fishermen. James and his brother John were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets (see Matthew 4:21-22). Ken, a thoughtful reader from Maine, suggested that we also have an example of a family business in Joseph and Jesus.
One of my favorite bumper stickers declares, “My boss is a Jewish carpenter.” The Gospels reveal very little about Christ’s life before He began His ministry. But the daily text indicates that Jesus practiced the trade of carpentry until the time He began His ministry at about 30 years of age. Since Joseph was also a carpenter it is reasonable to assume they worked together as would have been the practice at that time.
I’m sure He was a very good carpenter; competent and diligent in His work and honest with His customers. I wonder if He ever cut twice because He measured only once? I wonder how He reacted when He banged His thumb or how he dealt with the sharp sting He felt from a deep splinter? Do you suppose He called out His own name in an irreverent, exasperated way as will take place millions of times today when people encounter frustration? I don’t think so. Did He say, “Good God Almighty?” If so, I am sure it was expressed in an entirely different tone than normally spoken today!
What is your life’s work today? A few of you might be carpenters. Readers of this daily encouragement series come from a host of different backgrounds and work in a vast array of different vocations. Of course some of you are students and a good number of our readers are retired.
No matter our calling, craft, or life skills, we are all called to serve God. When Jesus worked as a carpenter I believe He was serving God no less than when, at the appointed time, He began His ministry. Jesus was in His Father’s perfect will, working in accordance to His time line, His entire earthly life.
Some of you sense that God has something different for you, some other form of service. And He very well may. Perhaps you sense a call to “ministry.” But until that calling is fully realized remember the skilled, diligent, honest Jewish carpenter who became our Lord and Savior. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23, 24).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we offer up to You our lives as living sacrifices. May we be holy and pleasing to You. In whatever form of work we do may we do so with diligence as unto the Lord. We thank you for the variety of giftings and work skills You give us in regard to vocational work and how we are blessed and provided for. We honor you as we have a proper view toward work. Amen.
Brooksyne’s note: As we wrote about those “called to ministry” I consider the scores and scores of laypersons who may not be credentialled by ministerial institutions but are given to ministry wholeheartedly. In our view many are just as effective as those credentialled and in some cases even more so. Few of them receive financial compensation and they often invest their own resources expecting no reimbursement. It isn’t the title that counts but the giving of oneself to ministry and the yielding of one’s giftings that pleases our Lord and gives testimony throughout the community.
Here’s another view of the Daniel Boone homestead house.
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