As the Jews return to Jerusalem, the rebuilding begins. First the altar of God, to offer burnt offerings on, as it is written in the Law of Moses, the man of God (Ezra 3:2).
Then they kept the Feast of Tabernacles, as it is written in the Word.
Money, donations and free will offerings were then given in order to import Cedar logs from Lebanon as they gathered the materials for the construction of the Temple. The organization of overseers and laborers was set in motion and the foundation of the Temple of the LORD was laid while the priests stood in their apparel, and the musicians praised the LORD.
Ezra 3:11 (NKJV) “And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD: ‘For He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.’ Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.”
Many were rejoicing, but some were weeping when the foundation was laid. Those who were weeping were those who had seen the glory of the previous temple. Perhaps they were crying tears of joy – or – “Perhaps they contrasted the roughness of the current project with the grandeur of the Solomonic temple.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary
Now, it’s almost like clockwork isn’t it? Whenever we arise to build for God, to seek Him and serve Him, the enemy will arise as well, in order to oppose us.
Initially the “adversaries of Judah” tried to join the work. But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the leaders of Judah were wise, and did not permit it. Paul the Apostle warns us along these lines in:
2 Corinthians 6:14–16 (NKJV) “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?”
The enemy then tired to discourage and frustrate the Jews, eventually writing a letter to the King of Persia, accusing them of insurrection. Claiming that they were rebelling and building walls around the city to oppose the Persians. Of course this wasn’t true, but tragically the king believed the accusations and the building was forcibly stopped.
Over the years I’ve seen many forms of opposition to the work of God. From time to time it may even look like the enemy won – but stumbling stones are often turned to stepping stones, and setbacks are to be expected. As we continue to pray, God will open doors for us to get back to work.
Romans 8:31 (NKJV) “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
1 Corinthians 2:6–3:4
It wasn’t worldly wisdom Paul wanted to impart, it was spiritual wisdom. Paul goes on to elaborate on the fact that spiritual wisdom can only be understood by the spiritually mature. This supernatural knowledge does not come naturally, it’s revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.
The natural man doesn’t understand the things of the Spirit, it’s a completely different language, it’s foolishness to him, it’s gibberish, because it’s spiritually discerned.
Paul closes chapter 2 with the truth that as mature Christians whose eyes have been opened, we can judge ALL things, but non-Christians do not have the capacity to judge anyone, or anything beyond an earthly understanding…they do not have the mind of Christ!
The Corinthians were saved, they were gifted, it was miraculous what God had done there at Corinth, but generally speaking the Corinthian church was carnal. This means that they were being governed by their fallen human nature and not by the Spirit of God. This meant that Paul couldn’t give them the meat of the word – they were still babes in Christ.
Paul gets specific with them in that there was envy, strife, and divisions among the disciples. Unfortunately, these are common things we see in the church amongst believers.
In Acts 18 Paul planted the church in Corinth. In Acts 19 Apollos went and ministered there. Apollos was a very gifted communicator. Tragically the people started getting their eyes on men, some said they were of Paul, and others said they were of Apollos. It was an example of their carnality.
Today, I would say that close to 90% of the church is carnal, at least in the United States. They still need the milk of the Word rather than the meat. Some don’t really want the Word at all, or maybe just a little bit, wrapped in illustrations and funny stories. There is much envy, strife, and division in the church. My prayer is that we would all grow to maturity.
We all need to examin our lives, which one am I?
- A Natural Man (or Woman)?
- A Carnal Man (or Woman)?
- A Spiritual Man (or Woman)?
This is another beautiful Psalm, Song, and Prayer of David’s – a cry for God to answer and protect him from his enemies, death, and most likely King Saul.
David prays for God not to be silent, for God to rise up and answer his prayer.
There were people who wanted David to be done and dead. They sounded like friends, but in all reality they were foes. David described them as people, “Who speak peace to their neighbor, but evil is in their hearts.” (Psalm 28:3) Those are the most dangerous ones.
David prayed for God to “Render to them what they deserve.” (Psalm 28:4) It was David’s way of praying for protection and preservation.
We may not be David the future king of Israel, but I do believe we have something special for our futures, especially if we’re serving and seeking God. The enemy will therefore come against us. We must pray – and obey.
I love the way David ends this Psalm as he does most Psalms, with declarations of faith – God WILL answer our prayers.
Psalm 28:6–7 (NKJV) “Blessed be the LORD, because He has heard the voice of my supplications! 7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.”
In verses 8-9 David goes beyond himself and also prays for the people. He will make a good king one day.
Proverbs 20:24 (NKJV) “A man’s steps are of the Lord; how then can a man understand his own way?”
I mentioned previously how we make these plans, and we do our best to make and take good steps; but here we see that even those steps are of the Lord.
Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV) “A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”
God is on the throne working out this glorious plan, so how can we possibly understand the big picture, for our lives?
Augustine mentions the weeping prayers of his godly mother when he traveled from Carthage to Italy. She was anxious that as he was no longer going to be under her influence, he would sink deeper into sin. But in the end this very journey in what seemed to be steps in the wrong direction paved the way for his providential conversion. He wrote this to God, “In Your deep and hidden counsel, listening to the cardinal point of her desire, You did not grant what she then asked for, in order to accomplish in me what she always asked for.”
So, don’t try to figure it out, you’ll frustrate yourself – it’s impossible to do. Just trust Him, every step of the way, each and every day.
Proverbs 20:25 (NKJV) “It is a snare for a man to devote rashly something as holy, and afterward to reconsider his vows.”
We’ve all heard those stories, even in Christian circles, they meet and right away get married, saying it’s all God, this is holy, holy matrimony…and not long afterwards, they get a divorce.
Or someone goes into the ministry…I heard God’s voice, His call is clear, He’s moving me into the ministry…but when the times get tough, and they will…you reconsider your vows.
It’s a snare, it traps and takes you down.
What this Proverb is saying is don’t rush or go rashly into something you say is holy, it’s God. Make sure it’s Him before you make those vows. Because once we make those vows, we’re obligated to keep them.
Ecclesiastes 5:5 (NKJV) “Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.”
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.