Monthly Archives: May 2018

Restoring the Temple

2nd Kings 12:4-16, 22:3,7 & 23:4-14
2nd Chronicles 24:4-14 & 34:8-13

In these passages we find two godly kings of Judah, Joash, son of Ahaziah, and Josiah, the great-grandson of King Hezekiah, commanding the priests to stop making their own repairs to the temple and start using temple funds to hire professional workmen to make the much needed repairs. These were the only renovations of Solomon’s Temple recorded in Scripture, and they seemed to be badly needed. Over the centuries since Solomon’s reign the temple had deteriorated and gone through periods of neglect, and worse, misuse, and the temple priests had been trying to make repairs themselves to save money; they were like the homeowner who was untrained in carpentry or masonry trying to make repairs to his home rather than call in a professional contractor.

I’ve been shown by the Spirit three lessons to learn from these essential repairs ordered by two great reformer kings of Judah:

The first lesson is that all the works of mortal man are doomed to decay and ultimately failure. All of our magnificent structures, from the massive pyramids of Egypt and Central America to the most modern of skyscrapers will someday be reduced to rubble. In the case of the pyramids of Giza it may take millenia (they are already roughly 5,000 years old), while in the case of skyscrapers it may only take a century or two. This natural decay of what we build can be delayed by diligent maintenance and repair programs, as in the case of the Great Wall of China or Western cathedrals, but ultimately the structure will fail. Nothing that is built “to last forever” actually will.

Second is the fact that the church often needs its own repair and restoration, and I’m not referring to church buildings. The Christian church as a whole, or the Body of Christ, has been described by the apostle Paul as “the temple of the living God” (2nd Corinthians 6:16), and therein lies the correlation. In 2,000 years of Christian history there have been many periods of decay in the form of straying from the truth, followed by periods of spiritual restoration. The Reformation in the 1500s is the best known restoration of the church to Gospel truth but not the only one. Many reformers came to prominence, from the time of the Arian controversy in the 4th Century through Wycliffe, Hus and Tyndale to the Great Awakening of the early 1800s and the revivalist movements of the 20th Century; all were repairs and renovations to the living temple of Jesus Christ.

And third, as individual believers we find ourselves in need of repair and renovation in the form of repentance and refreshment. Every believer occasionally hits dry spells when we need our Lord deeply, and sometimes we make mistakes and we sin in one way or another. That is when we need His renovation of our hearts and minds through repentance, prayer and the Scriptures. If we try to avoid His renovation we stay in a state of disrepair and decay, and while we might still seem impressive to others, upon closer inspection we see the scars and marks left by a harsh world. And only by humbling ourselves before God can we be restored like the temple of old. That’s when we once again become what He has called us to be so we can serve His purpose in a dying, desperate world.

Pray for each other always, my friends. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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Filed under Ancient History, Body of Christ, Christianity, Discipleship, Faith in the 21st Century, Jesus Christ

Adoption by God Comes Before Rules

Exodus 20:2
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

John 1:12
“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God”

“We all have a love/hate relationship with rules. On one hand, rules provide structure and predictability. On the other, they restrict our freedom to do what we want, when we want. The problem with religious rules is that they usually run contrary to human nature. That makes them really hard to follow. And we assume that when we don’t follow the rules, God rejects us. But is that really true?

To answer that, let’s look at two different scenarios where you’re expected to follow the rules. Growing up, your parents probably had rules for you. Yet on the day you were born, your mom didn’t recite those rules to you before hugging you close. In a ‘family model’, the relationship comes before the rules.

Now think about joining a health club, country club, or even accepting a new job. Step one is signing a contract agreeing to abide by the group’s rules. In a ‘club model’, the rules precede the relationship – agreeing to them comes first and breaking them usually gets you kicked out.

So which of these models reflects the way God operates? The answer is in the most famous rules in history, the Ten Commandments.

First, some context: the descendants of Adraham (God’s chosen man) became the nation of Israel (God’s chosen people). To escape famine, they migrated to Egypt, where they worked as slaves for four hundred years. Moses eventually led them out of slavery and it was during their long journey back home that they set up camp at the foot of Mount Sinai, where Moses received God’s rules.

The sequence of those events is important. It answers the question of whether God operates on the ‘family model’ or the ‘club model’. God rescued His people from slavery. Then He gave them His rules.

Just to be sure we don’t miss it, here’s the opening line of the Ten Commandments, before any talk of rules: ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’ From the very beginning, God adopted the ‘family model’. Relationship first, rules second.

It was true for the nation of Israel and it’s true for you. It’s what we read today in John 1:12: ‘to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.’ Did you catch those words? ‘Children of God.’ Not ‘members of the club.’ Children.”

Reproduced from the YouVersion Bible app plan “Unconvinced: Exploring Faith as a Sceptic”, day 4.

It’s a fine point to make but a valuable one. For the vast majority of Christians around the world, we come to faith and acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior, then we learn the rules of behavior after, as we go along. Like our natural children, we are born into God’s family through the Spirit, and then learn the ropes as we grow in the faith.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Filed under Ancient History, Body of Christ, Christianity, Faith in the 21st Century, Jesus Christ