Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘God’s house’

back

A number of years have passed with no progress on the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.  King Artaxerxes had stopped the progress as a result of lies and slander told to him about the Jews.  A new king was now in power.  King Darius had been reigning for just over a year when two prophets rose up and called the Jews to begin working again.

Haggai and Zechariah were God’s prophets.  They commanded the Jews to restart their project building God’s temple again saying, Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.” ~Haggai 1:3-6

Haggai tells the people that the reason their efforts are fruitless and their own plans amount to nothing is because they have neglected to build God’s house.  Haggai goes on to say that the reason all their hard work and labor has been destroyed by blight and hail and they have yielded nothing is because they offer God defiled offerings.  Therefore, he tells them to go, get building materials and begin working again.  Despite their troubles, God promises that now is the time for renewal.  Haggai encourages them saying, “…But from this day on I will bless you…” and “…for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.” ~Haggai 2:19, 23b

The prophet Zechariah goes into more detail about Jerusalem’s future.  I will be writing on the books of Haggai and Zechariah after I complete Ezra, but for now, let’s consider what God is saying to his people through these prophets.

God has delivered these people from oppression and exile and allowed them to come home and rebuild their lives.  They started off well building the foundation of the temple and got held up by the powers that be, slander, lies told about them, and their own lack of diligence in praying and petitioning for permission to continue God’s work.  Now, God is mercifully sending prophets to help and encourage their work for him.  They obey the word of the prophets and begin to work on the temple again.

How practical this passage is for us today.  How many times do we get caught up in building our own families, houses, plans, and little kingdoms for ourselves at the expense of building for God’s glory and his kingdom?

How quickly we get selfish, impede, and retard the spiritual growth of ourselves and those around us!  Haggai and Zechariah call us back to God with warning and encouragement.  How fortunate we are for the prophetic voices in our lives!  Lots of Christians today tend to deliberately forget that there are five offices listed in the Bible pertaining to the church: pastor, teacher, evangelist, apostle, and prophet, not just three.

Anyway, as the Jews got back to building, once again, their governors did not fail to notice.  Just like the previous governors, they inquired and sent notification to the king about their activity.  After all, this was part of their job.  Unlike previously, though, this time the governors did not misrepresent, malign, or slander the Jews when they sent word to the king.  They simply reported the building project and asked if the Jews had permission as they claimed to have been given by King Cyrus.

Interestingly, when they inquired of the Jews, the Jews told them the reason for their exile was God’s anger at their own faults and disobedience to him.  That was the truth and they took responsibility for their failures.  Funny, God’s people begin to get somewhere when they start with admitting their own faults and taking personal responsibility.

Remember, just like the last letter to the king from the governing authorities, these men were also Samaritans.  They claimed to worship the God of the Jews, but were not true Jews.  They worshiped many other gods but these particular governors proved to be much more honest and straightforward with their authority.  They took the names of the Jewish leaders and reported only the facts of what was taking place.  Nothing personal or untrue was said in their letter to King Darius.

In the next chapter, King Darius will reply as to whether the Jews have permission to build as they claim and we will see what happens as a result.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

recommit

After finishing the project to rebuild the walls and gates of Jerusalem, the people of God spent a considerable amount of time praying, fasting, confessing, repenting, worshiping God, and looking intently at God’s law.  They were thankful for his mercy and providence and ashamed of their disobedience.  God used Nehemiah – the great, godly leader he had called to help them – to spur them on to rebuild not only their city and their homes, but also their very own lives.

After their time of reflection and repentance, the leaders drew up and signed a covenant with God.  The people all took an oath of commitment to carry out the terms of these promises.  They also risked a curse if they would fail to obey.  Matthew Henry notes that, “Every oath has in it a conditional curse upon the soul, which makes it a strong bond upon the soul; for our own tongues, if false and lying tongues, will fail, and fail heavily , upon ourselves.”  In other words, if we would make a promise to God or man, we best be prepared to do all within our own power to keep it.

With all this consequence for failing to keep such a pact, why did these people seem so forward to sign up?

The answer is that these people had been failing.  They had been in sin.  They had been exiled, enslaved, and their home had been devastated, destroyed, and left desolate. Yet God had burdened a man named Nehemiah to come and help them.  God had brought them back to rebuild and re-establish themselves.  Now, they recognize both their guilt and his grace and they feel obliged to make these promises and strive to keep them.  Here is a group of people who truly want to be right with God.  These are God’s people.

So, what was it that they bound themselves to do?

The people promised not to intermarry with foreigners as they had been doing, they promised to observe the year of jubilee and forgive all debts in the seventh year, they promised to tithe all they had to God first and to give him the very best of their possessions to use in his house.

What did they commit to God?  Family; money; food; assets; only…everything.

That is the kind of commitment we must make to Our Lord if we would seek to truly repent and follow him.  WE are the ever failing, exiled from the garden, living in the  broken world we call home, sinners.  When we recognize the things he has done for us in sending a Savior to rebuild and recenter our very lives around the truth and His righteousness, we cannot help but to commit our everything to the building of His house and His kingdom.  If that is not our attitude and desire, we have not yet seen him and we do not yet know him. Therefore, let us repeat the words of these restored sinners and do as they committed to do saying, “We will not neglect the house of our God.” ~Nehemiah 10:39b

Read Full Post »

TentMakers+wide+Header

After all of the detailed instructions were given about what was to be made for God’s house, God instructs Moses on who was to make these things.

The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furnishings of the tent, the table and its utensils, and the pure lampstand with all its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin and its stand,10 and the finely worked garments,[a] the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense for the Holy Place. According to all that I have commanded you, they shall do.” ~Exodus 31:1-11

As In Exodus 28:3, here, in Exodus 31:1-11 God elaborates further upon who he had called to work for him with their hands.  These passages highlight the truth that God calls and equips people to work specific trades for his namesake in the assembly.

Specifically, Bezalel was called to head up this undertaking.  Bezalel was like the foreman over the craftsmen.  He was from the tribe of Judah.  Judah – the apple of God’s eye.  Apparently skilled craftsmen called to work as builders and mechanics were quite valuable and honorable in the kingdom work God was dealing out.  In fact, these men were just as valuable and honorable as the men called to any other type of ministry in the house of God.

We have to get this.  The church has strayed so far away from the truth regarding the great variety of God’s calling and giftings that we have begun to consider tradesmen and craftsmen as unspiritual or important in the building of God’s kingdom.  Even our culture considers those who work with their hands as inferior to those who work white collar intellectual jobs.  These ideas could not be further from the truth that scripture teaches us here in Exodus. Matthew Henry says this:

“Skill in common arts and employments is the gift of God…He teaches the husbandman discretion and the tradesman, too…God dispenses his gifts variously, one gift to one, another to another, and all for the good of the whole body, both of mankind and of the church.  Moses was the fittest of all to govern Israel, but Bezalel was fitter than he to build the tabernacle.  …the genius of some leads them to be serviceable one way, of others another way, and all these worketh that one and the same Spirit.”

Consider carefully this passage next time you are tempted to think tradesmen are not called, not Spirit led, not as important, and not as necessary as the priests and preachers in the building of God’s house and kingdom on earth.  Clearly, God fills certain men with the Spirit IN ORDER TO have, “…the ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood to work in every craft,” and he has given, “…all able men ability, that they may make…” all that he had commanded Moses concerning the building of his house.

Moses was the voice of God for the people.  The tradesmen were the hands of God for the people.  Moses was the fittest of all to govern Israel, but Bezalel was fitter than he to build the tabernacle.  God gives us each other that we all might work together for the building of his great and glorious kingdom.  We need one another.  We need variety and diversity within the body.  Can the foot say to the hand, “I don’t need you” ?  Surely not!  Stop ranking men according to their job titles.  Every job is valuable and infinitely important in the work of the kingdom and every job is Spirit led when the man or woman working it loves and follows the Lord.  AMEN.

Read Full Post »

skills

Still on Mt. Sinai, once God was finished giving instructions to Moses on how to build and furnish the tabernacle, he proceeded to instruct Moses on the people who would be attending it – the priests.

Exodus 28 is a record of what the priests were to wear and the significance of their garments.  From their heads to their undergarments, the priests were to be notably and specifically dressed.

 “Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests—Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty.You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood. These are the garments that they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash. They shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve me as priests. They shall receive gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen. ~Exodus 28:1-5

In verses 1-5, we see the sovereign choosing of God highlighted as he informs Moses that his brother, Aaron, and all of his descendants were to be the priests serving in temple.

Notice that Moses did not argue with God or sulk because he himself had not been chosen for this particular job.  Moses was a prophet.  He had much to do for God and for the people already.  Moses’ job was different than that of a priest.

In this time, priests were primarily responsible for attending the ever-burning fire and the sacrifices given.  Heads of families were responsible for the teaching of their own people on the ways of God.  Once synagogues became commonplace after the Jews’ captivity, the priests and leaders in the temple then became teachers and preachers of the law and the Word of God.

Today, it is still true that prophets hear words from the Lord, see visions, direct God’s people in His ways, warn, intercede, correct, and admonish all.  Priests and pastors attend to House of God, shepherd the people, and help them do what God has called them to.  These are very different callings .  Prophets can preach and preachers can prophesy, but these are not the primary responsibilities each has.  Both are equally important, but, a priest has a much more tender relationship with the people while a prophet generally is held at a distance because the people fear, avoid, and even hate him for his truth-telling.

Nevertheless, Moses isn’t complaining.  He is happy to give his younger brother this honor.  Aaron had served under him up until this point and God honored him for it.

As we see in verse 2, Moses was instructed to have holy garments made for Aaron.  He was told to call all those who were skillful to this task.  That tells us that these garments were not only mandatory, but they were greatly important to God.  He wanted them to be exactly as he instructed that his own glory and beauty might be seen through these men.

Each item that the priests wore had a meaning and a purpose.  We will be examining those in the coming days, but notice today especially what God’s Word says of those Moses was to call to the task of making these clothing items for the priests.

You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood. ~Exodus 28:3

The lesson here is that God gives people their skills and talents.  He gives them a “spirit of skill” and he expects it to be used for his glory and according to his very specific instructions.

God chooses who will be the prophet.
God chooses who will be the priest.
God chooses who will make the garments.
God chooses who will have trade skills.
God chooses who will be given a spirit of skill.
Good chooses what those who have been given a spirit of sill and excellence will make and do.
Good gives the skilled workers the materials needed to produce what will most glorify him.

Get this, Christians!  This is so very important.  Prophets are not better than priests.  Prophets are just people chosen by God to be prophets.  Priests are not better than the people they serve because they are called to teach, preach, and counsel others.  Priests are just people chosen by God to be priests.  And, finally, skilled workers who make and do jobs of trade with excellence are not unspiritual or unused of God simply because they are preaching, teaching, or prophesying like prophets and priests are doing.  Skilled workers who make and do jobs of trade are filled with a spirit of skill, according to Exodus 28:3, and are therefore just as spiritual and used of God when they act upon their calling as prophets and priests.

Did you get that?  It’s important.  There are no spiritual superheroes in God’s house.  Every person is greatly needed and equally important.  Therefore, there should be absolutely no attitudes of superiority or looking down on a man who works a trade vs. a man who preaches or vise versa within God’s house.  AMEN.

Read Full Post »

As the Lord begins to speak to Moses on Mount Sinai, he enters into a very long discourse on exactly how to build a place of worship.  He goes into great detail over a period of forty days and forty nights just instructing Moses on how to instruct His people to erect, furnish, and attend His place of worship.  It begins in Exodus 25 and does not conclude until Moses comes back down the mountain in Exodus chapter 31.  Let’s consider these instructions for God’s holy dwelling place carefully.

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it. ~Exodus 25:1-9

The very first thing God tells Moses about his sacred place is that it is to be a place of giving.  Each and every person attending God’s place of worship was to offer a gift.  Each and every person was to contribute.  No one was to come empty handed.  No one was to be excluded from making an offering.  No one was to be kept from giving whatever they had to give.  God gave specific instructions on what to bring.  The idea here is that the people of God were to bring the very best things they had and offer those to the Lord.

Note…to the Lord.  Verse two tells us that the contributions made were “for me” and God was speaking.  The gifts we bring to the house of God are for HIM; to glorify HIM; to honor HIM; to please HIM.

This was the very first instruction God gave in regards to the place of worship where he would be pleased to come and dwell.  This tells us that giving and offering our very best gifts in a place of worship is greatly important to God.

We should never enter or attend a place of worship empty handed.  We are to bring our very best gifts and offer them back to God.  We ought never to forbid others from giving their best gifts to the Lord.  God commands His people first and foremost in a place where he is to come and dwell to contribute.

If we fail to contribute to God’s house due to apathy, complacency, laziness, or greed, we ought to be very ashamed.  If we fail to allow others to contribute due to pride, control, envy, or jealousy, we ought to be very ashamed.  God would not have made this instruction first, foremost, and primary if it was not of great importance.

Let’s do things God’s way, Church.  “Whatsoever is done in God’s service must be done by His direction and not otherwise.” ~Matthew Henry

Read Full Post »