Six / Twenty-Four / Five Twenty B.C.

Building the Temple

Neil Girrard
Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Hag. 1:12 π Hag. 1:12-15 π Mt. 13:41 π 2nd π Mt. 16:18 π Mt. 24:10 π Jn. 10:27 π Jn. 15:5 π Rom. 2:29 π Rom. 9:6 π Rom. 14:17 π 2 Cor. 4:7 π Eph. 2:19-22 π Eph. 4:13-16 π 2 Ths. 2:3 π 2 Ths. 2:11-12 π 2 Tim. 4:3-4 π Heb. 5:9 π Heb. 8:10-12 π Rev. 2:6

Three weeks before this day, the Lord had spoken through the prophet and rebuked the people for building their own paneled houses while simultaneously neglecting to build the Lord's temple. Haggai records:

Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him; and the people feared the presence of the LORD.

Then Haggai, the LORD's messenger, spoke the LORD's message to the people, saying, "I am with you, says the LORD."

So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of King Darius. ( Hag. 1:12-15; top )

This word from the Lord through Haggai turned the people from their individual pursuits to one of corporate unity of purpose and action. As this situation carries implications for our time - far more than one might first think - let us examine this and explore the parallels.

For the Israelites in 520 B.C., their Babylonian captivity had ended - they were no longer forced to reside in Babylon. They were free to return to Israel and Jerusalem and to return to the worship of the one true God. But those who had returned to Jerusalem had been back for over a decade and a half (over two "weeks" of years) and had begun to put more of their time, energy and financial resources into their own private homes rather than attending to the work of rebuilding the temple of God.

The people of Christ are no longer trapped within the Babylonish system men most often call "church." Sure, many voluntarily remain in some "church" (whether that be an institutional "church," a home "church" or a mega-"church") just as many Israelites voluntarily remained in Babylon and only a small remnant minority returned to Jerusalem. In fact, the vast majority of the Israelites, of whom they or their parents had been taken captive, remained in Babylon. Those who returned under Zerubbabel were about 50,000 - those under Ezra about 2,000. Those who remained in Babylon were probably about 2 or 3 million. The "church," that visible, institutionalized structure that is, for the most part, the great falling away from the faith that occurs before Christ's return ( 2 Ths. 2:3 , Mt. 24:10; top ), contains (particularly in this country) the vast majority of people who claim to follow Christ. Over the past decade or two, what started as a trickle has become a flood of people making their exodus from the "church" as they persistently and patiently persevere in pursuing and obeying the will of God for their life. These "ones" and "twos" are the Zerubbabels, Ezras, Haggais, Zechariahs and Nehemiahs who will rebuild in some spiritual sense the temple and Jerusalem as they carefully obey the Lord.

Obedience to the commands of the Lord is the primary factor in the rebuilding of the Lord's temple in 520 B.C. When the people obeyed the command of the Lord, He reassured them and strengthened their spirits for the task at hand. But let us notice the progression carefully. First, there is the word of the Lord accompanied by obedience. Second, there is fear of the Lord. Third, there is reassurance from the Lord. Fourth, the spirits of the people are stirred up by the Lord. And fifth, the work progresses.

In modern "churchianity," close, personal, strict obedience to the personal commands of the King, Christ Jesus, is quite often optional - in some circles, "lordship theology" is even dismissed as heretical foolishness. In the gospel of the kingdom (that which Jesus and all the apostles preached), however, obedience to the King is mandatory. The salvation that God offers is only available to those who obey Christ. ( Heb. 5:9 ) The idea that we are to be the subordinate servant in our co-laboring work to lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold of us seems to have been laid aside as modern philosophy exalts the individual and his right to pick and choose which "truths" he prefers. "Churchianity" has progressed so far into darkness that it is common for men to expect God to bless the works of their own hands and minds as if He were the author and initiator of these works. Almost completely lost is the recognition of the vast difference between a work for God (as if He needed our help!) and a work of God (which clearly shows that we need His help and that the excellence of the treasure is His - 2 Cor. 4:7; top )

We must recognize that the people around Haggai obeyed "the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God sent him." ( Hag. 1:12 ) Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." ( Jn. 10:27 - emphasis added; top) Over the two millennia of church history, the voice of the Shepherd has been overlaid with "church" dogma and man-made denominational traditions and infiltrated with deceptive teachings and philosophies that truly originate from the realms of the demonic. The people of Christ have been trained to embrace deceptions and distortions as if they truly were the commands of Christ. This is the core essence of the "Babylonian captivity" which the people of Christ have endured for centuries. As the end of the age approaches, however, this captivity will be replaced by a return (at least by a minority remnant) to the work the Lord has commanded. We will no longer be able to pick and choose our favorite teachers (mere men) to follow - nor will we need them for we will hear and follow the one and only true Shepherd.

"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." ( Heb. 8:10-12; top )

This is the covenant that God has established for His people of the end time. Those who would apply this passage only to physical Israel forget that "they are not all Israel who are of Israel" ( Rom. 9:6 ) and that "he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God." ( Rom. 2:29; top )

This covenant removes the clergy (the "pastors," "apostles," "bishops," the pontiffs, the bridges and mediators) from between God and His people - and it will happen. Those clergy and their sycophants who refuse to give up this Nicolaitan error will be removed from Christ's kingdom ( Rev. 2:6 , Mt. 13:41 , 2 Ths. 2:11-12; top )

This covenant exposes a long-overlooked facet of genuine leadership. God gives leaders "until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." ( Eph. 4:13-16 - emphasis added; top)

Leadership is a temporary gifting from the Lord. It is supposed to bring into being a group of people capable of acting in one accord with the agenda and purpose of Christ. It remains true that Christ's kingdom is characterized by righteousness (what is right in God's eyes), peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. ( Rom. 14:17; top ) Any other characteristics simply show that we are involved with someone else's kingdom.

Men claiming leadership titles and roles among people claiming to follow Christ have tended to err because they have - either through personal bias or preference or because they were overly enamored with the fresh revelation God had given them - focused only on one aspect of what Christ is building. In one succinct description, Paul described the people who have been reconciled to God through Christ as fellow citizens (members of Christ's kingdom), saints (people set apart for God's purposes), God's household (members of His family), God's building (built on the foundation of Christ, the apostles and prophets), a holy temple (the place where God is worshiped) and a dwelling place for God's Spirit. ( Eph. 2:19-22; top )

Men have erred because they have taken one aspect of these purposes of God - the ekklesia (the saints called out of darkness to attend to the matters of Christ's kingdom of light), the kingdom (the structure and order by which God's rule is established among men), the family (bringing new believers into being), the temple (the need for holiness and righteousness), the house (a dwelling place fit for God's Spirit), etc. - and have focused almost entirely on that one aspect and built themselves a religious niche. But Jesus said, "I will build My ekklesia..." ( Mt. 16:18 ) and "Apart from Me you can accomplish nothing." ( Jn. 15:5; top ) Until we surrender all our agendas to the complete purposes of God and our theology comes to embrace the whole counsel of God, anything we build will not be the work of God but rather the works of our own hands.

Men have further erred by incorporating pagan practices into the hierarchies, institutions, denominations and bureaucracies which men most often call "church." These abominations (paneled houses built at the expense of God's house) have been tolerated by God for the sake of the wheat but one day soon the tares - all who cause offense and who practice lawlessness (what is right in their own eyes) - will be removed. ( Mt. 13:41 ) The "church" has replaced the temporary leadership giftings of Christ with a permanent, sick, symbiotic relationship between the leader(s) and a congregation whereby the people financially and emotionally support the leader's title and role and he, in turn, tickles their ears. Sound doctrine is easily rejected in the anonymity of the crowd and is replaced with endless, lifeless sermons. (see 2 Tim. 4:3-4; top ) Spiritual immaturity is perpetuated as "church" members of 10, 20 or even 30 years still need to be fed milk from the hand of some man. And nothing of God's building is built (except what He builds in spite of the efforts of the "church" leadership and congregation) while some man or organization enjoys their own "paneled house."

If we have not heard the real message the Lord is speaking, or if we have obeyed the teachings of men or demons, let us not foolishly suppose that we are somehow building according to the plan and purposes and counsel of God!

Let he who has ears hear.

Six / One / Five Twenty B.C. π Seven / Twenty-One / Five Twenty B.C.
Building the Temple

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