From “Feast of Tabernacles,” Chapter 13- Tabernacles – The Feast of Restoration, continued
THE PROPHETS ENCOURAGE THE BUILDERS
Just how long the work ceased on the temple we do not know. And just how long the work on this Temple is going to be hindered, we do not know. Perhaps God in mercy will do a quick work. Nevertheless, despite all the opposition and all the obstacles, the work shall continue. Has the Lord not raised prophets to encourage the builders, just as He did for Israel? With the builders, we are told. “Were the prophets of God helping them,” encouraging them in their task. (Ezra 5:2). Is it not the purpose of prophecy to speak unto men words of “edification, and exhortation, and comfort?” (1 Cor. 14:3). Edification! Building up! It is the work of prophecy to edify and build up the saints as they labour in this holy Temple of the Lord. The opposition will continue from within as well as from without–but the prophets of God are there to exhort and comfort the saints in every hour of trial.
Once again there were efforts to hinder the work, and the matter was referred to Darius, but permission was granted and the work continued. In fact, he even ordered that timber and salt and wine and oil be given the builders to help them in their task. And so they built and they prophesied… “And they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo.” (Ezra 6:14).
Haggai’s prophecy is most enlightening, in view of all these facts that we have mentioned. For Haggai and Zechariah were God’s special prophets sent to Jerusalem to encourage the builders in their work.
His first task was to cause the people to realize that the hour had really come for the House of God to be built. The problem is the same today: “This people say, the time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should he built.” But God gave Haggai a simple word of wisdom, and it was enough to settle that argument. “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?” (Hag. 1:2, 4). You have your comfortable churches; and, of course, that is all right! You have beautiful carpets, and tapestry, and stained -glass windows, and beautiful furniture… there is plenty of time for that. But you have no time for the restoration of God’s beautiful House, the Temple not made with hands, the Temple made of “living stones.” Is it not a fact, a solemn fact, that the beauty and glory of the Church of Christ has been sacrificed for the natural beauty and refinement of our places of assembly? The people have no objection to this extravagance whatsoever. But let a group of saints declare their intention of restoring the walls of the heavenly Jerusalem and seeking God’s face for a restoration of early apostolic power and glory and unity in the congregation of the saints, and there is no time for it!
“Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.” (vs. 6). And well might the Church of Christ consider her ways. “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages, earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.” (vs. 6). It seems almost perplexing and mysterious sometimes when we consider the ways of the Church. We read of great revivals, of mass healing meetings, of thousands getting converted or filled with the Spirit, But when the hour of testing comes, where is all this glory of which we have boasted? How many really continue to show evidences of salvation when the revival passes on to the next town? How many retain their healing when they get back home? How many keep filled with the spirit? We are not suggesting that these great Healing or Gospel ministries are not genuine. There will be the false, of course; but God has raised up mighty ministries in the power of the Holy Spirit, to bring healing or salvation to the nations; and much has been and is being, accomplished compared to what we have seen in the past. But little, very little compared to what these ministries should produce. We looked for much; and then God blows upon our efforts in the great fanning-mill through which we all must pass, and where is the wheat? Does it not seem to have disappeared with the chaff? And, “Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.” (Hag. 1:9). GHW
I want to look at the last few lines of this section. They are important. “We looked for much; and then God blows upon our efforts in the great fanning-mill through which we all must pass, and where is the wheat? Does it not seem to have disappeared with the chaff?” I am saddened, as I hope you are, every time a man or woman of God falls because of scandal in their ministry. And I believe Haggai gives us a key to why this happens. “Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.”
If we look at these verses closely, I believe an application can be made regarding ministers and ministries. We will see that as a minister focuses on his own house, that is his own needs, his own comforts, his own desires, his own kingdom, the temporal things of this life, he can lose focus on the eternal, the Kingdom of God. Jesus warns about this in Matthew 6: 19-34 with the key verse being 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” When God adds a blessing, there is no sorrow.