A nail is a little thing. While they have their function, we generally consider nails to be of little individual value. When a carpenter is working on a house, he does not even take the time to pick up a dropped nail. To pick up the nail would take more time than the nail itself is worth. There are many more nails readily available. When my brother-in-law was building his house, my job was to examine the underside of the floors and pound up any nails that were visible. Particularly if the nail was right on the edge of a beam, rather than properly in the beam, it could eventually cause the floor to squeak. So the nails had to be removed, and thrown away. You donít reuse a nail. In light of this, Ezra makes an interesting statement about the returned Israel.
And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. (Ezra 9:8)
While we may consider nails to be of little value, sometimes where they are located makes a difference. Apparently, a nail in Godís holy place has special value, as compared to a nail anywhere else. There might be a couple of reasons this would be true.
The nail is made valuable by the structure in which it is placed, if that structure is holy in itself. A nail in Godís holy place is made holy just by being there. Jesus understood that a part of the whole inherits the holiness of the whole.
Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon. (Matt 23:16-22)
Godís people have value because they are part of his holy temple. As we are ďbuilded together for a habitation of GodĒ (Eph 2:21-22) we inherit the glory of that into which we are built. That is not to say that an iron nail is transformed into one of gold. Rather, an iron nail has its place in the building. As it performs its assigned function it gains in value. A nail made of gold has little value as a nail, because it is too soft to function as a nail. A golden nail in the fence of a pigpen is just a nail, and not much of one at that. But any nail that fulfils its function in the house of God is of surpassing greatness compared to that nail in the pigpen. Godís nail has value, regardless of its composition.
That may lead to the second reason a nail has value in the house of God. Not only do we inherit the holiness of that into which we are built, but also the nail gains value because of the honor of being associated with the building. Anyone who honors God must honor his people. ďIf a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?Ē (1 Jn 4:20) If man is made in Godís image, then all men, not just those in Godís temple, have intrinsic value. Just our association with the image of God gives us value.
You and I may be mere nails. But God is not one to leave a dropped nail to be swept away with the trash. We are worth the time it takes for God to lift us up. God gives his nails honor, because he gives them a place in his holy dwelling.