Tag Archives: temple

As Long as There is Breath

In the ancient lands what often took place was that the people would find a mountain, or if there were no mountains a hill, and they would use that as their capital city and the main place of worship.  They would build a temple to their greatest deity or deities as if to proclaim to all the other peoples around them or traveling through their cities that their god was watching over them.  Jerusalem was no different.  They had chosen Mt. Moriah, the mountain where Abraham had nearly sacrificed Isaac, also known as Mt. Zion to be their temple mountain and capital city (Jerusalem).

They had made a beautiful temple built at the instruction and care of Solomon.  It was one of the finest temples ever built in the ancient Near East.  It glittered in the sun. It shined in the night.  It could be seen for miles away.  It was a magnificent sight to see.  It is understandable why the elders of Jerusalem wept bitterly after coming back from Babylon and seeing the new temple that had been built.

If you have read Micah, you’ve probably noticed that he had proclaimed that the people of Judah were horrid people.  The government was corrupt, the prophets and priests were corrupt, and God was going to judge them.  They would lose everything.  They would be exiled and their lands would be destroyed.  The temple mountain would grow bushes and weeds because it would be torn down and abandoned.

But Micah, like God, loves the people too much to leave them in despair.  “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it,” (Micah 4:1).

This is what we would call poetry parallelism: highest of the mountains = above the hills. Micah’s point here is simply that God’s mountain, Mt. Zion, His house, the temple will be greater than the others. God is establishing His greatness above the other gods.  The palace of God, the temple (both the same word in Hebrew) would be not only restored to its original greatness and popularity, but even greater than it has ever been.  The debate over who has the stronger, more powerful God will be over.  God will be the undisputed champion of the world!  Everyone will know it.  No one will doubt it. People will be coming from everywhere!

That’s what Micah tells us, “And many nations shall come, and say: ‘Come let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’  For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem,” (Micah 4:2).

What’s that?  People all over the world, nations, which to the Jewish listener would mean Gentiles were coming to worship Yahweh, the God of the Jews.  In other words, God would not simply be the God the Jews but the God of the world.  His kingdom would be over everyone!  Not in some God created everything so He is the king of everything kind of ways, but people are coming from all over the world and worshiping God because they long to do so!

The word of the Lord is no longer confined to the people of Judah, but is spread all over the world.  It began in Jerusalem, but from there is spread like wild fire to the ends of the earth!  Does that sound familiar?  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” (Acts 1:8).  By the time everything is said and done we will see what John saw:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! (Revelation 7:9-10).

What began 2,000 years ago will continue until Christ returns.  There is no limit it would seem to the people who come into this kingdom.  Nations, peoples, tribes, languages.  Think about those who are being persecuted in places like North Korea who have buried Christians alive, Afghanistan where people have put bounties on their own family member’s head because he/she became a Christian. People from those nations that seem like no one would ever believe (and every other nation) will come to know Jesus!  What we generally look at as a lost cause and a hopeless situation will turn around by the very gospel that we hold!  For the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes.  No one is outside the power of God’s gospel.  As long as there is breath there is hope.

Please leave me a comment; I’d love to read what you have to say. If you found this encouraging please feel free to share.

3 Matters to Rethink When Life Goes Wrong (Part 2)

Last week, I covered the first of three matters that one should rethink when life goes the wrong way.  I would encourage you to read the article before this one, but the choice is yours. The first matter was rethinking our fears. Typically we do or obey who or what we fear the most. And we need to take a good long look at who or what we fear.  But on top of rethinking our fears, let us rethink our faith.  It is not enough to be in awe of God.  We must also believe in Him and believe that He has our good in mind.  Always!  Verses like Romans 8.28 and Genesis 50.20 used to be comforting to us, but after hearing them a hundred times they often become trite.  And when they become trite they become unbelievable.

Too many mishaps, too many failures, too many times being wrong, and too many hopes dashed have left us feeling that God has abandoned us, or worse, God enjoys watching us suffer.  He has some type of vendetta against us. Could that have been what the people in Jerusalem believed?  Maybe so.  Their fears paralyzed them, and they blamed it on the timing, implying God’s not in the work.  Maybe they thought that God didn’t care anymore.

After sixteen to eighteen years of not having done much to rebuild the temple, Haggai (by the word of the LORD) is telling the people to get going.  “Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD,” (Hag 1.2, ESV).  The foundation had been lying there for nearly two decades.  The decree had been given by the king of the largest empire to that point in history and yet it wasn’t time.  This is what the people said, but it wasn’t really what they meant.  They had encountered opposition and were scared away.  To confront the opposition would have been difficult.  To continue in the rebuilding efforts would have been frustrating and perhaps, in their minds, dangerous.  So they looked at God–who is all sovereign–and said what so many people say today: it must not be God’s will for us to do this quite yet.  We’ll just wait for Him to direct us.  Like the story goes of the man on his roof with flood waters rising who had a boat and a helicopter come to rescue him, he kept sending them away because God was going to save him, so Cyrus was prophesied about 200 years beforehand to send Israel back to rebuild and Israel was given permission, a royal decree, to rebuild the temple, but they said it wasn’t time yet.  God was silent, or so it seemed; though nearly everything was pointing toward rebuilding, one hiccup made them forget God’s sovereignty and His care.

The story is told of how a Cherokee boy had to go through a rite of passage to be considered a man. His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.

He cannot tell the other boys of this experience because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man!

Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.[1]

It is not that God isn’t there; He is there, but often is silent so that you may grow into maturity. Haggai reminded the people of this: “Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke to the people with the LORD’s message, ‘I am with you, declares the LORD,” (Haggai 1.13, ESV).

In my Bible I wrote these next few verse references down, and I would encourage you to do the same: Gen 26.24, Gen 28.15, Ex 3.12, Josh 1.5, Jud 6.16, Isa 41.10, Matt 28.20.  Each of these verses is God telling His people that He is with them or He will be with them.  He tells us that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  By saying that He is with us is to say that He is not only present but that He is supporting us (that is not to say that God supports our sin, but He does support His children; there is a difference).  As Scott Sauls wrote, “He wants us to know that he is with us and for us in what’s broken about us and around us.  He shares our situation.”[2]

[1] http://jestkidding.com/kids-corner/the-good-stuff/cherokee-indian-boys-become-a-man/

[2] Scott Sauls, Jesus Outside the Lines, (Carol Streams, IL: Tyndale House Publishing, 2015), p. 161.