Regardless of how we get into an exile situation, we are not in the place G-d intends for us to be. In the book of Ezra, a wave of exiles are released to return to Israel. Once there, they follow an interesting order: First on the agenda: getting settled in and their own homes in order. They meet in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths/Tents), and then begin the ritual sacrifices to G-d. Finally they begin work on the Temple, starting with the foundation.
Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the LORD, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ houses and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here.” But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel said to them, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.” Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
Point three in this look at Getting Back to Basics is: Once G-d’s people return to where they are suppose to be and begin to rebuild their spiritual lives, there is resistance to their efforts.
Now those “adversaries” are not Jews. But before you say, “Well, the Jews made the Gentiles angry when they refused to let them help.” I think the Gentiles wanted work, wanted a share in the money being spent. They wanted construction contracts. And they were refused. Here’s what the note in The Apologetics Study Bible says, “Some people see an arrogant attitude at work in this rejection of help. However, the Jews were applying an important spiritual principle—service should be conducted by God’s people. They should be very wary of partnerships that involve unbelievers in fulfilling their service to God.” This rebuilding is between the people of G-d and G-d Himself, without outside “assistance.” This rejection of help enrages people, and those people become resistant to the Jews’ efforts at rebuilding their spiritual lives, their nation.
So here’s the the modern-day exile: Tarnished Gold. We are Christians. We are among those who Believe. We know we are saved by grace. Our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Live. But we also know we are far from being G-d’s model Christian. We are tarnished. At some point we become conscious of the tarnish that is on us. Our Thoughts, Words, and our Deeds are not what we want them to be. We begin to try to clean ourselves up. That’s when things get interesting.
Sunday I visited Christ Community Church. Pastor Jason, in his talk, spoke of the fallacy of trying. We try, we fail. We are, he said, to train. We either do or we don’t. We train to do. We take it one step at a time, is what I took from this part of his talk. The overall theme of his talk is really interesting. It was May Day: A Heart Check. It took its core message from Mark 10:17-31 in which a man walks away from Y’shuaJesus, turns away from Y’shuaJesus, Who asked him to sell all his material possessions and come and follow Him.
The key points in Pastor Jason’s talk are:
- Sincerity is not the same as obedience.
- If possessions have our heart, God cannot.
- Following Christ will always cost you something.
- Allow his love to transform your heart.
So, in the book of Ezra, non-Jewish folks resist the Jewish rebuilding of the Temple. They raise concerns to the Earthly authority, and that authority says, “Cease and Desist.” Pastor Jason didn’t speak about resistance as such in our attempt to reconnect with G-d, to get into a place with Him to which we feel called. Pastor Jason did, however, talk about how he would, as his pastor before him, try to talk people out of going into the ministry. Pastor Jason said that if he could talk a person out of it, it wasn’t from G-d.
If we really want to build or rebuild our relationship with our Lord, we are going to experience resistance. In Ezra, the resistance is from non-Jewish peoples afraid of the power of a people totally in G-d’s plan and protection. The resistance we may receive today, to our re-establishing or deepening our relationship with G-d, should only come from non-believers in Messiah. But, from what I take out of what Pastor Jason said, this resistance can come from those near and dear to us in order to test us to be sure that we are truly called to this new thing. Wow! Assaulted from both sides.
Funny. There are so many times in which I’ve pushed toward some goal, whether physically or spiritually, that I’ve not known whether it was G-d’s desire that I push onward, or allow myself to stop and be redirected. Resistance. The real question is when is resistance to bend us toward the destination or be broken through in order to get to the destination. Interesting question, isn’t it? But then perhaps you’ve got that figured out. I suppose is has to do with knowing precisely what the will of G-d is, what the destination is suppose to actually be.
Here’s something from Mira Grant’s book Blackout (the third book in a zombie trilogy):
“You’re a crazy. . . Shaun Mason, and I think sometimes you’re not going to be happy until you’ve managed to get every last one of us killed, but you’re a good man, all the same.”
“Remind me to have that inscribed on my urn.” I said, and Becks laughed, and things felt like they might be okay again. We had a direction. I didn’t like it; I didn’t have to. All I had to do was follow it, and let it lead me to whatever the next step on this increasingly insane journey would prove to be.
Direction. The Will of G-d. Perhaps I think too much. Perhaps I’m sincere, but fail to obey. Perhaps I simply am not willing to spend what it takes to follow. It becomes a bit clearer to me now, though, that isn’t the doing. The way Pastor Jason put it is that it isn’t about finding out, and following, G-d’s will; it is about seeking G-d’s heart. This isn’t something new to me. Rephrased, yes. I’ve known it this way: “It’s not about doing, but being,” meaning being in relationship with the Lord, our G-d, our Creator, and knowing HIM.
Knowing G-d’s heart allows us to overcome all resistance, even if it means allowing the resistance to redirect us. Knowing G-d’s heart means not worrying about the moment, where we are starring at our path, but to lift our head up, to look toward heaven, to watch for our Lord with utter rapt attention.
Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .