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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

FOT19 - And the People Stood in their Place

The Second Part of Feast of Restoration from George Warnock's Feast of Tabernacles
Just imagine what concern and heartache must have gripped the holy prophet of the Lord as he looked down upon this second temple, slowly rising from the dust--but so very, very incomplete, and far from being a glorious temple. And now on this great day, the last day of the Feast, when the memory of every true Israelite would naturally revert back to the days of Israel's glory and power in the days of Solomon's magnificent kingdom--Haggai would likewise be thinking of the great and tremendous heritage which they had lost because of the captivity. The magnificence of Solomon's temple was utterly unsurpassable. There is nothing in the annals of history to compare with it, past or present. How could this feeble remnant begin to erect a structure even comparable to that wonderful temple? How discouraging their work must have been as they contemplated the glory they had lost! But at that very moment, on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the word of prophecy came upon him and he cried to Zerubbabel and the remnant:
"Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? And how do ye see it now? Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing! Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord: and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith Lord of hosts: According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my Spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land, and I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts." (Hag. 2:3-9).
Notice the repetition of the phrase, "Saith the Lord of hosts." God wants us to make no mistake about this: God hath spoken and not man. True, our feeble attempts at restoration are nothing compared to the glory of the early Church, the Temple of the living God erected in apostolic days. But God hath promised: "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former..." Neither Zerubbabel's Temple nor the Temple of Herod could begin to compare with Solomon's Temple. But God was not speaking of the earthly house; He was speaking of the Temple not made with hands, composed of living stones. And the "Desire of all nations" would be the Glory of that Temple. And so Malachi prophesies: "And the Lord, whom ye seek. shall suddenly come to his temple..." (Mal. 3:1). All nations--yea the creation itself, are waiting eagerly for His appearing, even for the "manifestation of the Sons of God." (Rom. 8:19). Nor shall their hopes and expectations be disappointed.
And how shall this exceeding glory be manifested? By the very shaking of the heavens and the earth. Paul quotes this passage in Heb. 12:26 and assures us that this shall be fulfilled in the Kingdom of the saints. We dealt somewhat with the shaking of the heavens in a previous chapter. The very unseen powers of the heavenlies must be toppled from their thrones; yea, even now are they beginning to feel the impact of heaven-tremors as the Sons of God begin to mount up with wings of an eagle to take unto themselves their God-given authority in the Spirit. "Be strong... Be strong... Be strong" is the threefold prophecy of comfort and encouragement to the builders of the Temple, to the priesthood, and to the remnant. For it is in the spoken word of prophecy that power and strength shall be imparted to the builders, enabling them to use the tools of their ministry in the one hand, and to fight with the Sword of the Spirit in the other. With similar words of encouragement, and with a similar purpose in mind, the apostle Paul exhorts the saints: "Finally, my brethren be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Eph. 6:10-12). It is this wrestling with the spiritual hosts of wickedness in "the heavenlies" that shall cause the very heavens to shake and Satan and his hosts to relinquish their kingdom into the hands of the Sons of God. Everything that can be shaken is going to quake and fall before the Sons of God. And then into the very heavenlies shall they ascend, first of all in the Spirit, to take possession of the kingdom left vacant by the casting out of Satan. and his evil hosts. Then shall they be in a position to administer peace and life and blessing to a Church and a world that are in bondage and under oppression.

ZECHARIAH'S PROPHECY (See Zech. 4)
Zechariah likewise prophesied words of encouragement to Zerubbabel and the remnant who laboured on the temple. In what way would the Lord encourage the builders in the colossal task that lay before them? Well, the Lord would give the prophet a vision that would explain the means of their success. How helpless they were! How would the Lord encourage them? And so Zechariah looked, and what did he see? Mountains of stone and timber and mortar? Huge labour battalions marching down from Babylon to help them? Great machines to aid in their seemingly impossible task? Ah no! But he looked, "And behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon and two olive trees by it." A very simple illustration, and meaningless perhaps to many: two olive trees pouring their oil into a candlestick.
Zechariah himself did not know what it meant; and so God gave him the interpretation.
"This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it." Shall anything be too hard for the Lord? "By my spirit," saith the Lord, and so shall it be. And now let us notice this great word of encouragement, which God speaketh even now to the builders of this living Temple: "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it: and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things?" Child of God, remember these words; God has pledged His Word that this Temple shall be finished. Let us never lose that vision.
But still Zechariah was puzzled; what were these "two olive trees" that he saw emptying their golden oil into the candlestick? And the angel replied: "These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." Literally, "These are the two sons of oil..."! Sons of the anointing! It is the Moses-Elijah company, as we shall discover in the next chapter. It is the company of overcomers who shall go forth in the Day of the Lord working all manner of signs and wonders and miracles in the Name of the Lord; and nothing shall stand against them.
"By my spirit," saith the Lord. This is a work of the Spirit of God. The Oil of the Spirit flowing through them: That is the secret of their power.

RESTORATION OF THE WALLS
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah cover too periods of restoration. Neither Ezra nor Nehemiah were present at the rebuilding of the Temple but came many years later: Ezra to teach the people the laws of God, and Nehemiah to rebuild the walls and the gates of the City.
And so we read that "All that could hear with understanding" assembled together "as one man into the street that was before the water gate" while Ezra the priest read from the law of God from morning until midday. This was the first day of the seventh month, the month of the Feast of Tabernacles. (See Neh. 8:1-3). "So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading." (Neh. 8:8). This is the hour of revelation and spiritual understanding. The Spirit is speaking to the churches, but only those with "ears to hear" shall understand what is spoken, The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, and only men whose minds have been quickened by the Spirit shall be able to "give the sense" on the one hand, or "understand the reading" on the other. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches."

THE PEOPLE IN THEIR PLACE
"And the people stood in their place," (Neh. 8:7). God is setting His ministries in the Body according as it pleases Him, and the time has come when every man must know his place in the Body and serve the Lord accordingly. Ministries have been raised up for the express purpose of administering gifts of the Spirit through prophecy and the laying on of hands--and the saints are exhorted to "war a good warfare" accordingly. (1 Tim. 1:18). We realize, of course, that much harm has been done by those who are attempting to administer gifts to others through prophecy and the laying on of hands--when God has not authorized them to engage in this ministry. But the tares must always grow together with the wheat until the time of harvest. If the child of God is walking in close communion with his Lord, then the Spirit will witness as to the truth of the prophecy which goes forth concerning him. And if he is not walking in close communion with God, then the prophecy will mean nothing to him anyway--except perhaps to harden his heart or fill him with pride. This will I serve as a good test. If pride rises up in the heart, the prophecy--whether true or false, cannot be relied upon. For even a true prophecy must submit to the test of faith and obedience in one's life and ministry. Furthermore, the purpose of prophecy is to establish, edify, comfort and exhort; and if the candidate is left in a state of confusion or turmoil and doubt-he might as well reject what has been said concerning him. "For God is not the Author of confusion, but of peace." (1 Cor. 14:33). We merely mention these things, because we know that many are trying to engage in this ministry of prophecy, with the laying on of hands--and God has never commissioned them to do so. The ministry is real and genuine, as all can testify who have really entered in to the realities of this move of the Spirit. But as surely as the Sower plants good seed, the enemy is there to sow tares--and both must grow together until the harvest.
However, if the child of God who hungers to know God's will, and do it--has not had the opportunity of being set aside by prophecy and the laying on of hands, he need not be in the least discouraged. Let him continue in the things which God has placed in his hand to do. Choose the humble and lowly position, and you cannot go wrong. Pray, fast, intercede, shew mercy, give, help and assist God's people--do whatever the Lord enables you to do, in humility and meekness, and God will honour your efforts. And regardless of any prophecy that has been given to any man, utter consecration unto God is God's will for you, first and foremost. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." (Rom. 12:1, 2). That is the will of God for you! Take the lowly position, therefore, and God will exalt you in due course when you are able to receive it. Much better that you should be found doing some humble task, and the Lord promote you unto honour, than that he should be forced to say: "Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room." (Lk. 14:9). If this plan is followed, God will certainly give guidance and direction. And in His own good time, when He chooses to reveal your ministry in greater fulness through prophecy and the laying on of hands, His servants will be directed your way, and led of the Spirit to set you apart unto the work for which God has called you.

SEND PORTIONS TO THE NEEDY
"Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared..." (Neh. 8:10).
As the Feast of Tabernacles begins to dawn upon us, it is becoming increasingly important that the saints have something to minister to their fellow-members in the Body. They must not "appear before the Lord empty: every man shall give as he is able according to the blessing of the Lord." (Deut. 16:16, 17). This strongly reminds us of Paul's exhortations to the Romans and Corinthians, concerning their ministry in the Body of Christ. "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering..." (Rom. 12:6, 7). The whole ministry of the various members is to edify the Body, and not for their own gratification. "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." (1 Pet. 4:10). As he ministries develop and the Body is edified, then they will go forth unto the world bringing health and gladness to those who sit in darkness, starvation, and the shadow of death.

VICTORY AND PROSPERITY AHEAD
"Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written..." (Neh. 8:15).
No doubt all these trees are significant of one thing and another. But broadly speaking they depict the victory and prosperity and joy and triumph of the people of God. The "olive"--a true symbol of the Holy Spirit. The olive oil was used for making the holy ointment, for the anointing of prophet, priest, or king. Palm branches, you will recall, were cut down and scattered in the pathway of the King who came riding triumphantly into Jerusalem sitting upon an ass, amidst the shouting of the people and of the children. "Hosanna"' they cried, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." (Mk. 11:9). And the saints who come out of the Great Tribulation clothed in white robes have "palms in their hands," as they shout the victory song and worship the Lamb that was, slain for them. There is a great day of gladness ahead for the saints when the Feast of Tabernacles is observed. But they must leave their homes in the streets of Jerusalem. They must forsake their own ways, their own thoughts, their own plans and desires, and crucify the flesh--in order that the life of Christ and the joy of the Holy Ghost might be their portion.
What a spectacle this scene must have presented. Thousands upon thousands of little humble tabernacles or booths(see true Sukkot as church) erected along the streets of Jerusalem, or upon the house-tops, or in the courts of the temple, or in the open places of the city; all assembled together with one common purpose in mind, with one heart and one soul, to keep the Feast of the Lord. The booth was nothing much to behold--just a humble, fragile hut. Says Paul, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." (2 Cor. 4:7). Weymouth's translation of this passage is most expressive: "But we have this treasure in fragile earthen pots, in order that the surpassing greatness of the power may be seen to be God's and not to come from us." Again, Paul says, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Cor. 12:9). Literally it reads, "That the power of Christ may spread a Tabernacle over me... " It is the manifestation of Christ within us. It is the crucifixion of our flesh, that the very life of Christ might be revealed, in the power of the Holy Ghost.

OPPOSITION WITHIN AND WITHOUT
Nehemiah gives further light on the opposition that was arrayed against them. As they started the tremendous task, there was nothing more than mockery. One said, "Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall." (Neh. 4:3). But soon their mockery turned to violence. They realized that great progress was being made in spite of their tremendous difficulties, and so they began to get fearful, and tried to hinder the work by force of arms. It became necessary, therefore, for the builders to be armed with spears as well as tools; and they builded with the sword girded by their side. (Neh. 4:18).
If we seek to restore the walls of Jerusalem, we are going to find it necessary in the very near future to put on "the whole armour of God." Mockery is giving way to violence. Satan will soon begin to use force against the saints instead of insult, because he realizes that the plan of God is being fulfilled, even if the work is slow and not any too spectacular.
Then carnality crept into the midst of God's people, and brother was ill-treating brother. Because of the hard times, some were being forced to mortgage their fields and their properties, and the rich were exacting usury from the poor. And we can be sure of this, saints, that one of Satan's sure devices against God's people is in causing internal strife and division. If he cannot conquer by outward attack, he is often most successful by causing the congregation to fall into sin. When Balaam could not curse Israel (for they were God's people and God turned the curse into a blessing)--then he advised Balak to invite the people to a great sacrifice of their gods--and Israel fell into the trap. Consequently a great plague swept through the whole congregation. (Num. 25:1, 2; 31:16).

Befriending: The Rothschilds also wielded much influence and power not only in Secret Societies, but also in Christendom’s churches. The Salvation Army under the suggestion of the Rothschilds adopted the Red Shield (Roth-red Schild-shield) for their logo.





Finally, Sunballat conceived another plot against Nehemiah, perhaps the most subtle of all. If he was unable to conquer by force, or by mockery, he would befriend Nehemiah and in that way betray him. He would propose a conference. "Come, let us meet together..." he suggested. But Nehemiah discerned the true intent and purpose of the proposed meeting, and he replied that he was too busy. (Neh. 6:2-8). Failing that he hired a man to come and persuade Nehemiah to flee into the temple for safety, stating that some were after his life. But Nehemiah had no part in the priesthood, and he refused to sin against God in this manner; and again the plot failed.
Nehemiah's ministry was to govern the land, not to minister in the Temple. Perhaps Satan's most successful form of attack against the saints, is to get them to become involved in some work of the Lord which is not theirs to perform. It appears to be such an innocent thing. And perhaps the need that arises would almost demand that you submit, and take upon yourself some ministry which God has neither enabled you nor called you to perform. But God knows all about it. and he has some who are qualified to meet that need. Let every man minister according to the ability which God gives, and in the place which God has designated for him.

EVERY MAN HAD HIS JOB TO PERFORM
No man needs to be unduly concerned about his ministry if he will but minister according to the ability and power which God has given. For the ministry that you have is one that is suited to you, and one for which God has gifted you. If you are walking with God you will automatically be in your ministry. And the ministry that you have from God has constituted you a "steward," or literally, "a house-manager" of His affairs. Having received a gift from God, therefore, we are called upon to be "good stewards of the manifold grace of God." And as a "steward" of God's House, only one thing is required of you, and that is faithfulness. (1 Cor. 4:1). You are not called upon to be great, or mighty, or prosperous, or clever, or successful, or to do great things--but to be "faithful." Before God that is true greatness, and true success. The lone soldier guarding some obscure vital spot in the field of battle, even if he never sees any action, is just as much entitled to promotion as the man in the front lines. One thing is sure, the Day of Christ is going to reveal every man's faithfulness in building upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ. This we know: the Judgment Seat of Christ will reveal quality and not quantity. "And the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." (1 Cor. 3:13). If it is "gold, silver, precious stones," it will stand the test; and if it is "wood, hay stubble" it will be burnt up, leaving the builder without the crown of glory, saved as through fire.
And so every Israelite had his job to perform. Some on the sheep-gate, some on the fish-gate. Some on this tower, and another on that tower. Some at the fountain, some at the pool, some at the stairs, some at the armories, some at the houses of the priests. But they all worked together, according to their several ability, the prophets of God encouraging them as they built--and in due course the wall was finished, and the defence of the City was made secure.

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