I must confess: I love the Old Testament. I love the history, and the chain of events and how the Lord worked thru the nation of Israel to bring light to the nations of the earth, and, eventually, the Messiah, Himself. I especially love the history of the Temple of GOD in Jerusalem. King Solomon, David’s son, built the temple. When Solomon’s son took over as king, the nation experienced a civil war and split into 2 kingdoms, Israel and Judah. Israel worshiped wrongly and in different ways, but Judah continued to worship the Lord in the temple in Jerusalem. Through the decades, Judah had a series of kings leading the nation. Every time Judah had a righteous king, the nation would follow GOD, worship at the temple, and be blessed. Every time Judah had an unrighteousness king, the temple would fall into disrepair, and the nation would go its own way. Eventually, this led to the Babylonian invasion, the destruction of the temple, and the deportation of the nation of Judah to Babylon, today’s Iraq (Israel had long since been deported to Assyria). After some time had passed, the kingdom of Persia, (today’s Iran), conquered Babylon, and the Persian king Darius, allowed the Jewish people to return to their land, and rebuild their temple.
What does this have to do with me, today? I’ve been reading the minor prophets in the Bible, and have been ‘stuck’ on the book of Haggai. When the Hebrew remnant went back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, and reestablish their land, they found the land full of hardships and peril. Difficulty and struggle were around every corner. As time went on, the people gave up on building the temple, and began focusing on their own lives and homes. GOD sent Haggai (and Zechariah), to speak to the people, encouraging and exhorting them to continue building the temple. His glory, in the form of the Messiah, would one day enter that temple. It was critical for them to continue to build His place, so that the fulfillment of His Kingdom could come. If you know the story, you know that the people did, in fact, rebuild the temple. They carried on with worshiping the Lord there, albeit with many ups and downs, until Jesus arrived on the scene.
I’ve been thinking about this, lately. How true is it that we, as GOD’s people, have gotten discouraged, exhausted, and just plain worn out, and decided to focus more on building our own ‘houses’ and ‘kingdoms’? How focused has the church become on building our own little projects, that, in the end, have little to do with building the Kingdom of GOD? These are questions I am asking myself these days, and I would like to humbly challenge you to ask yourself (and the Lord!), the same question. Are you focused on building GOD’s kingdom; on glorifying Jesus in your daily life; on making sure others know and experience His love and presence in different ways? Just as the Hebrew nation’s sole purpose in the earth, was to glorify and carry the presence of GOD, so it is now our sole purpose to do the same. As believers, we are ‘grafted’ into the holy nation, and it becomes our goal and responsibility, to honor the Lord in every facet of our life. This is not an easy task, in a world full of sin, corruption and anger, not to mention the things we see on the news every day. Nevertheless, that is our calling. That is what we were created for. I encourage you today, to rededicate yourself to that calling, and to bring this to the Lord in prayer. Ask Him how you can best honor and glorify Him in your life. It’s an important thing for us all to do. Remember, you are a temple of the Holy Spirit! He lives in you now, if you know Jesus. Be strong and courageous, and ‘rebuild’. Even though our nation, and many others, are in upheaval, our GOD is not. He lives in you. Stand strong and build!
Update: We (along with our three amigos) made the long drive across the country, mid-February. We are back from taking a partial leave of absence, to serve my parents, during my dad’s illness and passing. As painful as this time has been, it has also been deeply precious, and we are so thankful that we were able to do this. At this moment, we are processing our ‘reentry’ back into ‘normal’ life here in San Diego. Please pray for us, as we move back into our work, and please continue to pray for my mom, as she adjusts to this new normal.
Wayne & Carol, Winston, Salem & Moravia.