5 A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees.
In American folklore he is a legend. His mighty axe felling trees that no mere man could cut down. He was famous, not for fighting crime, or rescuing worlds, but cutting down trees. It may not sound as impressive now, but you have to understand what Paul Bunyan’s story represented.
He was clearing land for houses in an expanding country. Paul also represented progress. America would become a rich nation, thanks in part to hard work, and harvesting our resources. You and I know that Paul’s story was greatly exaggerated, but what it meant wasn’t.
2 Chronicles 2:8-9
8 Send me also cedar trees, fir trees, and algum trees, out of Lebanon: for I know that thy servants can skill to cut timber in Lebanon; and, behold, my servants shall be with thy servants,
9 Even to prepare me timber in abundance: for the house which I am about to build shall be wonderful great.
Recently I found a much more real set of heroes in Scripture than Paul and Babe his blue ox. They are in Psalms 74:5. These men, both Jew and Gentile, worked together to supply the timber for the Temple. These nameless citizens to you and I, were not kings or priests, but they were famous in the congregation. They were known for the trees they selected and secured for Solomon.
In Gill’s Commentary, he offers this note from Kimchi. “When the temple was built, he who lifted up his axe upon a thick tree, to cut it down for the building, was known, as if he lifted it up above in heaven before the throne of glory; all so rejoiced and gloried in the building.” It is a beautiful picture, these normal men, producing something that reached to Heaven.
I can’t help but imagine it, picture two of them. One man, a member of Israel, who may have never been outside of his borders. The other, called to secure trees for a God that he had never known. Over time, friendships were formed, and stories exchanged.
“If you’ll hold your axe this way, you’ll get more results.” The one instructed the other. “This isn’t just any building. The God that we serve, brought us out of Egypt. He vanquished the Philistines, and took down Goliath. Our God sat David on His throne.” He taught his new friend about The God of Israel. There was a sacredness to what they accomplished, isn’t it amazing?
What is so incredible is the fact that you and I can be a part of this in a different way. As Christians, we can be a part of the very real work of building the Church, one soul at a time. Throughout Scripture, God has compared Christians to trees planted in the courts of The Lord.
We can, in our every day lives, form very real relationships with those in need of God’s love and mercy. We can show them that both He, and we, care about them. People will hear our message once they’ve seen our hearts.
Like Paul Bunyan, logs weren’t the only part of the industry, there was the running of the camps. Things had to be maintained, equipment had to be oiled, and food prepared for the loggers. We can volunteer in the local Church to make a difference.
These men weren’t Solomon and Hiram. They weren’t architects, but tree cutters, yet they built the Temple. You and I don’t have to sing, preach, or play an instrument to build the Church. We don’t have to have great ability to make a difference, only to be available.
When we involve ourselves in the work of The Lord, we are lifting beams to Heaven. Jesus said that we are laying up treasures there that can’t be corrupted or destroyed. In the end, making a difference isn’t magical or mythical. It’s the act of mortal men in the hands of a Divine God, directed by the Man Of God He has placed in our lives!