Sunday, August 7, 2011

August 7- Permission Granted

August 7, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Ezra 4:24-6:22; 1 Corinthians 3:5-23;
Psalm 29:1-11; Proverbs 20:26-27

Ezra 4:24-6:22

Have you ever been really discouraged and ready to quit a project?  Today the Israelites, who have risked everything to come back to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple, are discouraged.  The project seemed to be going well as they read God's Word, rebuilt the altar, reinstated burnt offerings to God, built the foundations of the Temple, and worshiped God with praise and thanksgiving.  Then just as things are going their way enemies cropped up and began to frustrate their plans.  The work was halted by a decree from the King Artaxerxes. 

For a number of years the work lay dormant.  Politics got in the way.  The good news is that God is not controlled by politics.  He is the one who controls everything.  God is in partnership to rebuild the Temple with the remnant of Jews.  But how is God going to choose to jump start the rebuilding of the Temple?  God decides to use two prophets.  Remember, the Temple represents God's kingdom.  So far in this rebuilding process we have had a priest (Jeshua), a king (Cyrus), and a prince of Israel (Zerubbabel) initiate the building of the Temple.  But Christ, who is the true builder of God's kingdom, is not only a priest and a king, he is also a prophet.  It stands to reason then that God would complete the building of His Temple by using prophets, also. 

Haggai and Zechariah, who are prophets, could not be any more different in their personalities, but God uses the prophesies of these men to encourage the remnant to begin the rebuilding process once more.  It is God who grants permission that the project proceed.  It should not surprise us that the local Persian governor, Tattenai, comes to inquire as to why the Jews have begun to rebuild.  The Jews, having been inspired by their prophets to follow God's command, explain their situation.  Tattenai sends a letter to King Darius, who is now the king, explaining the Jewish position and requesting that King Darius try to uncover the decree from King Cyrus that commanded that this Temple be built.  King Darius finds the decree and sets forth a new, stronger decree about the Temple.  Darius requires that anyone who tries to prevent the building of the Temple be punished.  He also demands that the local taxes not be sent back to Persia, but be used locally in the building of the Temple.  I can guarantee you that Tattenai did not expect this response. 

Now in addition to their heavenly king God granting permission to rebuild the Temple, the Jews have the permission of their earthly king Darius to rebuild the Temple.  The Temple is completed and within five weeks the Passover feast is celebrated in God's dwelling place.  As we know, the Passover is a picture of God's redemption of mankind through the death of Jesus Christ.  With the Temple as a symbol of God's Kingdom, we see that Christ is a priest, a prophet, and a king.  He is the central character of the Bible and the person through whom God's Kingdom is built.  The account of this story is a physical picture of a spiritual reality.

What a beautiful picture.  Do you think the tiny remnant of Israel, who struggled to rebuild this Temple, had any idea that they were a living picture?  Do you struggle to do God's work on earth?  Is Christ the central focus of your work?  All things live and breath because of Him.  Do you live your life with this truth in mind?

1 Corinthians 3:5-23

Paul is reminding the carnal Corinthians, who want to quarrel about who has the best leader, that both he and Apollos are simply servants.  Paul says he planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.  This is a partnership with God.

Do you live your life in partnership with God?  Do you realize that you are on a team with God?

Paul explains that he is a builder.  He has laid a foundation of faith for people.  Others now come and build upon the foundation that Paul has laid.  This foundation is built on God's truth about Jesus Christ.   What other people come and build upon this truth about Christ will be tested by God in the end.  Whether or not their teachings and works were of God will be determined by God at the judgment.

Paul explains that the Church of Jesus Christ on earth is God's Temple. This ties in nicely with our Old Testament passage today.  The remnant built an earthly temple with the encouragement of a priest, a king, and a prophet.  We are the Temple of God on earth today, spiritually.  We are built with the help and encouragement of Jesus, who is our priest, king, and prophet.  Paul proves our position as God's Temple by saying this in verse 23, "Everything belongs to you, you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God."  Enough said.

Psalm 29:1-11

This psalm emphasizes the power of God's voice.  It is His Word that creates all things.  His Word/Voice will last forever. Sounds matter in the universe.

Proverbs 20:26-27

"The Lord's searching light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive."  This is exactly what the Apostle Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians today.

What did you learn?  Please share.


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton 

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