Today begins our call to demolish and rebuild. There is so much in the church that needs to be torn down and rebuilt, but before we get to that, let’s go back to Israel and the Promised Land. Just as Israel disobeyed God’s commands, so has the church, so as you read this, bear in mind that due to the church’s rebellion, this also applies to the church. The Old Testament shows us what the church has also done and then what the church needs to do. The New Testament also tells us. First of all, before they entered the Promised Land, they were told Leviticus 18:3 “You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices.” The church was also told James 4:4 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” The only option was to follow the word of God. Israel was given these commands.” Deuteronomy 12:1 “These are the decrees and laws you must be careful to follow in the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given you to possess—as long as you live in the land. 2 Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains, on the hills and under every spreading tree, where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. 3 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places. 4 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way. 31 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.” (Don’t let yourself off the hook by thinking we don’t do that. The reality is that when you teach your children other gospels, you are sacrificing them to other gods) 1 Corinthians 6:9 “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” They were given this charge. Numbers 33:50 “On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho the Lord said to Moses, 51 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, 52 drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. 53 Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess. 55 “‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. 56 And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.’” Mark 16:15 “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Before moving on it is important to understand there are three promised lands, well actually four if you include the Garden of Eden. The land promised to Israel was like Eden but obviously not the same as death had entered the land. This land is described here, a land flowing with milk and honey. Deuteronomy 11:8 “Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 9 and so that you may live long in the land the Lord swore to your ancestors to give to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. 11 But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. 12 It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.” The next land was the world. Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 12:10 “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah.” This land was supposed to be even better than the lands before, both the Promised Land and Eden as we now have knowledge and eternal life and the sting of death is gone. Revelation 2:7 “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 22:14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” Then the final land of eternal life. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” 1 John 2:24 “As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.”
The connection to all these lands is obedience. God said obey in the garden. God said obey in the Promised Land. God said obey in the church and to receive eternal life, obey. In every example disobedience led to death and destruction which is eternal. That still applies to the church. Understanding the magnitude of our need to obey is crucial. I grew up hearing about Beulah land and how people couldn’t wait to get there but there was no talk about the present kingdom of God available to all who believed. You don’t have to wait for heaven, that land is available today. Yes, there is a heaven that our minds cannot even comprehend but there is so much more available in the present than we are seeing. Revelation 4:8 “Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” 9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Today’s church has a hard time gathering for an hour or two. Here on earth when we believe the good news, Paul said the sting of death is gone. 1 Corinthians 15:55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Jesus said Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Jesus even said Matthew 16:28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” This rejection of the present kingdom and the power and authority that Jesus said we would have will prove costly to many who thought they were following truth. Isaiah 5:13 “Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; those of high rank will die of hunger and the common people will be parched with thirst.” Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” That is not how it was supposed to be. John 6:35 “Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” What you want to hear is Matthew 25:21 “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” This rejection of the present kingdom means that some will hear Matthew 25:41 “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
In order to have the kingdom of God come near, we must obey. 1 Kings 2:1 “When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. 2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, 3 and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go 4 and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.” Solomon did not obey and lost the kingdom of his father. This is why we must obey and return to God’s word so that the kingdom of God comes near once again. To do that means to obey God’s command to tear down the altars of those who have gone before us and build proper ones. No, I am not talking about tearing down wood and stone altars, but tearing down the altars of false teaching. We must do as Gideon was told Judges 6:25 “Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.” We must do as Hezekiah said 2 Chronicles 29:5 “Listen to me, Levites! Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary. 6 Our parents were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the Lord our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the Lord’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him. 7 They also shut the doors of the portico and put out the lamps. They did not burn incense or present any burnt offerings at the sanctuary to the God of Israel. 8 Therefore, the anger of the Lord has fallen on Judah and Jerusalem; he has made them an object of dread and horror and scorn, as you can see with your own eyes.” He also said 2 Chronicles 30:6 “People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” We must do the same.
When they entered the Promised Land, they were supposed demolish and tear down and then follow God wholeheartedly but as you saw above, they did not obey. They then had to destroy, tear down and demolish all the altars to other gods that they had torn down in the first place. Because they disobeyed, in the end, God did to them what he said He would do. Israel and Judah went their own way and paid the price of being vomited out of the land just as they were told would happen. Leviticus 20:22 “Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out.” King Solomon also did not listen even after God had given him the kingdom of his father David. 1 Kings 11:1 “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. 4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. 9 The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. 11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates.”
Most of the kings did evil in the eyes of the Lord but near the end, before there was complete destruction, there is an amazing account of King Josiah. His grandfather Manasseh was the worst king but also had the most amazing account of repentance. Before we get to Josiah this is what happened to Manasseh. 2 Chronicles 33:10 “The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 11 So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. 12 In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God. 14 Afterward he rebuilt the outer wall of the City of David, west of the Gihon spring in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate and encircling the hill of Ophel; he also made it much higher. He stationed military commanders in all the fortified cities in Judah. 15 He got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of the Lord, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city. 16 Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel. 17 The people, however, continued to sacrifice at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.” Don’t think for a moment that God has turned a blind eye to the church’s rebellion. This rebellion is why God has allowed satan to throw truth to the ground in the church. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”
As you are reading these examples, picture the church not obeying the commands of God. Jesus said Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” No one seems to ask what happens if we do not obey. In fact, many teach that no matter what you are eternally secure but as you have seen above that is not the case, as disobedience always leads to death and destruction. The Old Testament shows us what happens when we disobey. That is why satan has deceived so many to teach that the Old Testament doesn’t apply to the church. Malachi tells us Malachi 3:6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” If you refuse to listen to God’s word, you will be destroyed. Ezekiel 33:11 “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel / church?” We then see what happens to God’s people when they refuse to obey. 2 Kings 17:14 “But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do.” 16 They forsook all the commands of the Lord their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal. 17 They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sought omens and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger. 18 So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left, 19 and even Judah did not keep the commands of the Lord their God. They followed the practices Israel had introduced. 20 Therefore the Lord rejected all the people of Israel; he afflicted them and gave them into the hands of plunderers, until he thrust them from his presence.”
Manasseh was one of the worst kings and he did exactly what he was told not to do. 2 Kings 21:1 “Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. 4 He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my Name.” 5 In the two courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts. 6 He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger. 7 He took the carved Asherah pole he had made and put it in the temple, of which the Lord had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. 8 I will not again make the feet of the Israelites wander from the land I gave their ancestors, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them and will keep the whole Law that my servant Moses gave them.” 9 But the people did not listen. Manasseh led them astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.”
It is hard to believe after this great account of repentance, right after this, Manasseh’s son Amon took over. 2 Chronicles 33:22 “He (Amon) did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his father Manasseh had done. Amon worshiped and offered sacrifices to all the idols Manasseh had made. 23 But unlike his father Manasseh, he did not humble himself before the Lord; Amon increased his guilt. 24 Amon’s officials conspired against him and assassinated him in his palace. 25 Then the people of the land killed all who had plotted against King Amon, and they made Josiah his son king in his place.” Josiah was now the king, but Josiah’s story starts long before He became king. After Solomon, the kingdom was divided so now you had the kings of Judah and the kings of Israel. If you find it hard to believe that so many leaders in the church are false teachers, look how many of the kings did evil in the eyes of the Lord, both kings of Israel and Judah. The first king of Israel after the division, was Jeroboam who had been given an amazing promise from God. The prophet Ahijah said to Jeroboam. 1 Kings 11:31 “See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and give you ten tribes. 34 But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon’s hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of David my servant, whom I chose and who obeyed my commands and decrees. 35 I will take the kingdom from his son’s hands and give you ten tribes. 36 I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name. 37 However, as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel. 38 If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. 39 I will humble David’s descendants because of this, but not forever.’” All he had to do was trust and obey, but instead decided it would be a good idea to build some golden calves instead. He rejected God’s promise just as the church has done. 1 Kings 12:26 “Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.” 28 After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” Following other gospels is equivalent to bowing down before golden calves. Then Jeroboam had a visit. 1 Kings 13:1 “By the word of the Lord a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering. 2 By the word of the Lord he cried out against the altar: “Altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.’” 3 That same day the man of God gave a sign: “This is the sign the Lord has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out.” 33 Even after this, Jeroboam did not change his evil ways, but once more appointed priests for the high places from all sorts of people. Anyone who wanted to become a priest he consecrated for the high places. 34 This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth.”
Now we go to Josiah. When Israel entered the Promised Land, they were supposed to tear down and demolish and they did, but after time they did as the nations did around them. They built altars to other gods and sacrifices to idols. Not only does this describe Israel this passage describes the church today. 2 Kings 17:32 “They worshiped the Lord, but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. 33 They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought. 34 To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the Lord nor adhere to the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands that the Lord gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named Israel. 35 When the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. 36 But the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices. 37 You must always be careful to keep the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. 38 Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. 39 Rather, worship the Lord your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.” 40 They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. 41 Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.”
Faith is about obedience and doing as we are commanded by God. When Josiah became king, he was a child. 2 Kings 22:1 “Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.” Notice that the comparison had to go all the way back to David. In the 18th year of his reign, he began to repair the temple. This is the key moment in his kingship and exactly what the church today must do. As they repaired the temple, they found the book of the law. That means obviously they were not using it. Then they read it and believed what the book of the law said, just as the church needs to read the bible and believe and do what it says to do. 2 Kings 22:11 “When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.” It is imperative that you hear these words Josiah spoke. He said 13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” It is interesting that he said they had not acted in accordance with all that is written. This exactly describes the church who looks nothing like the book of Acts. God then spoke about the disaster that was coming. 17 Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.’ 18 Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: 19 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. 20 Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’”
Then Josiah follows God’s word and gathered all the people 2 Kings 23:2 “He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord. 3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.” This is a roadmap for the church if we want to survive. Jesus said Matthew 24:22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” Today, like Israel of the Old Testament, there is only a remnant left. It takes faith to trust in God words and do as He said. Those who disobey don’t really believe God at His word and do as they please. That never ends well and for most that will end in eternal damnation but for those who listen to God’s word and do what He says, they will inherit eternal life. We must in faith do as Josiah did. 2 Kings 23:25 “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.”
So what did he do? You can read all he did in this chapter. As you read remember this is Judah and Israel who were just like the nations before them. 2 Kings 23 “He removed from the temple of the Lord all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts.” “He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the temple of the Lord, the quarters where women did weaving for Asherah.” “He did away with the idolatrous priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places and then desecrated the high places.” “He desecrated Topheth, which was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, so no one could use it to sacrifice their son or daughter in the fire to Molek.” “He removed from the entrance to the temple of the Lord the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun.” “He pulled down the altars the kings of Judah had erected on the roof.” “Just as he had done at Bethel, Josiah removed all the shrines at the high places that the kings of Israel had built in the towns of Samaria and that had aroused the Lord’s anger. Josiah slaughtered all the priests of those high places on the altars and burned human bones on them. Then he went back to Jerusalem.” “Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem.” Josiah tore down and demolished just as they were commanded to do when they took the Promised Land, but Israel and Judah had done worse things than those before them. 2 Chronicles 33:9 “Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.” When the word of God was found and obeyed, they restored the temple and obeyed the commands of God. They acted in accordance with all that was written.
Josiah feared God and was faithful to God’s word. After demolishing, he 2 Kings 23:21 “gave this order to all the people: “Celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” 22 Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem.” The Jewish Passover this year is April 15-23, 2022. Easter is April 17, 2022. Can you imagine if the church did as Josiah did and then stood and read like Josiah or Ezra and then believed what they read. Nehemiah 8:2 “So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. 5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” Can you imagine if the word of God was given that kind of reverence? Yes, there are churches that have an elevated pulpit to read from and some that stand at the reading of God’s word but that really is not reverence. James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” You can stand and listen but if you don’t respond and do what God tells you, you are wasting your time. Going to church is not the requirement that gives you the gift of eternal life. You must be the church and follow God’s word wholeheartedly. You can only be the church if Jesus is the head and is giving His authority and power and you are clothed with power from on High otherwise you are just a group of people gathering week after week.
There is hope but only if we obey. Demolishing and rebuilding go hand in hand. Something doesn’t need rebuilt if there is nothing wrong. The first part of the rebuild is the foundation. To have a solid structure, you have to have a solid foundation. If you don’t have a solid foundation, tear it down and build a new one. If you are building for the first time, do it right the first time and obey God’s word. Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Isaiah 28:16 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.” Isaiah 58:12 “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” The first temple was destroyed and when they built the second God said Haggai 2:3 “Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?” The God said 4 But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 5 ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’ 6 This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7 I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. 8 ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 9 ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” If you are building as commanded by God, you have nothing to fear. As we rebuild, know that God’s glory can and will fill the temple (the body of Christ) once again.
Before going on, the church is not a building. The first temple was an amazing structure. The second was also impressive but they were both destroyed. The third is not a building but the body of Christ but you wouldn’t know it with all the cathedrals and structures called churches. People consider themselves successful if they have built something. 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” Some of these massive cathedrals and massive churches think that they have been built to the glory of God, but they are dead inside. Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” People look at the building and think God is blessing but what they are seeing is the glory of man’s hands and not the glory of God because it looks nothing like the church Jesus built as there is no power. When rebuilding the church, the foundation must be the word of God and not cement and other building materials. Millions of dollars are spent on buildings each and every year but that is not the church. What needs to be torn down is this idea that going to church is the biggest part of Christianity. Yes, we are supposed to gather but it should look like this Acts 5:12 “The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.” When the pandemic hit, churches were deemed non-essential and yes that should never be said about the church, but the truth is, as the church is now, that statement is true. People stopped gathering and the pandemic exposed the powerless church. It revealed how pathetic the church actually was. Restoring the church the way it was before the pandemic is not what we are talking about. We have to go back to the beginning; back to the gospels. We are not just called to gather but to go out in power. Luke 9:1 “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Ephesians 2:19 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
Inside the structures built by human hands are doctrines and theology from the minds of men and demons. These need to be torn down and no longer adhered to. Many churches / denominations should be completely demolished, and they need to start over as they have completely set the word of God aside but there is hope as we saw with Manasseh once he repented and then with Josiah when he found God’s word and obeyed but here will be many who refuse to listen. We were told 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” That time has been here since Paul said Galatians 1:6 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” 1 Timothy 4:1 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” These have to go, yet as Paul said people put up with it. 2 Corinthians 11:4 “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” Churches are filled with people putting up with a different gospel. Demand that the gospel is actually preached for a change. Demand that your church seeks God so that He will turn His face back and His power will flow once again. Just a warning, that may not go well for you.
This is war and we cannot be afraid to fight. Nehemiah said Nehemiah 2:20 “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding.” The enemy does not want the church to be rebuilt. He is winning the way it is. The worst part is that the church doesn’t know he is winning and many will find out when it is too late. We have to be prepared for the attacks of the enemy. When Nehemiah was repairing the wall Nehemiah 4:16 “half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked.” There will be opposition, not only from satan but from within the church. Those who think their way is truth will not react kindly to someone saying they are following a false gospel or that they are a false teacher. When we go to war for truth, God will be with us. Deuteronomy 20:20 “When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. 4 For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” This is not a flesh and blood war; this is spiritual warfare. 2 Corinthians 10:3 “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
When it comes to false teaching, there are too many to list as the church has been overcome with false teaching. The way to tell is look at what is being taught and then compare to scripture. 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Jesus sent out His disciples to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. Mark 6:12 “They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” Matthew 10:1 “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” Mark 16:20 “the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Authority and power are a sign of the truth. If a church states they are witnesses of the truth but they don’t look like the Gospels or Acts or they don’t teach repentance so that once again the church will look as Jesus intended and if they are unwilling to change and turn from their wicked ways, then it needs torn down and rebuilt. Look for churches who are not afraid to reject the teaching and doctrines of man and are willing to humble themselves before God and then wait for His plan to unfold. Many will just keep going down the wrong path.
The prophet Haggai said Haggai 1:2 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’ 2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’” 5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” This describes the church today, but it is time to rebuild David’s fallen tent. There is hope. Hosea 1:10 “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.”
In the book of Amos, we see this verse that describes the church and why we are in such desolation. Amos 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. 12 People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.” But then in the next chapter we see this verse after talking about the destruction of Israel, Amos 9:8 “Surely the eyes of the Sovereign Lord are on the sinful kingdom. I will destroy it from the face of the earth. Yet I will not totally destroy the descendants of Jacob,” declares the Lord,” God goes on to say Amos 9:11 “In that day “I will restore David’s fallen shelter— I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins— and will rebuild it as it used to be.” Isaiah tells us Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning,and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”
The church has to rebuild the ruins that have been devastated for generations. When the gospel was spreading to the Gentiles, they had a discussion as to what was expected of them. Acts 15:12 “The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: 16 “‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’— 18 things known from long ago.” Now like the Jews, the Gentiles have also rejected God’s word to follow other gospels and once again the broken walls of David’s tent need to be restored. It really is hard to imagine that God would still be gracious to the church after years of rebellion, but He has promised there will always be a remnant even though we do not deserve it. The only way the church can be restored is to humble ourselves before God and plead for mercy. James 4:6 “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” When Daniel prayed, he was told Daniel 10:12 “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” As you wait, trust in God’s word. So as Nehemiah said Nehemiah 2:18 “Let us start rebuilding. So they began this good work.”
When the building is complete there will need to be a final inspection to see if the building passes code. To pass, the church must look like Jesus. Jesus is our example of what the church should look like Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” Matthew 11:2 “When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” 4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Then Jesus sent out the twelve. Luke 9:1 “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick,” Not only were the twelve sent out but the seventy-two were also sent out. They were told to Luke 10:9 “Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.” And then later other disciples were sent out. Acts 8:6 “When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.”
You can use this final inspection to show you what you need to demolish. If you have been told that this power is no longer available to all who believe, you need to stand against that teaching and tear it down, repent and seek God. If you have been told the church you go to is on the right path yet teaches that this power is no longer available, demolishing may just be running away, as most false teachers will not listen. Don’t be afraid to take your bible and seek God. This may seem like an insurmountable task, but we have God’s word to stand on. Micah gives the church this hope. We too can say, Micah 7:8 “Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. 9 Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and upholds my cause. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. 10 Then my enemy will see it and will be covered with shame, she who said to me, “Where is the Lord your God?” My eyes will see her downfall; even now she will be trampled underfoot like mire in the streets. 11 The day for building your walls will come, the day for extending your boundaries.”
Take comfort from these words from David. Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. 3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. 4 One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. 5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. 6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. 7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. 8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. 9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. 10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. 11 Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. 12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations. 13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 80:19 “Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.”