Call to Worship: 1 Chronicles 29:10 “David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, LORD, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11 Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 12 Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.”
Songs: Yours Is the Kingdom - Hillsong
Life Of Praise - Casting Crowns We Won't Be Shaken - Building 429
Scripture: Nehemiah 9
Songs: Cornerstone - Hillsong
Sermon: Repairers of Broken Walls
Closing Song: Glorious Unfolding - Steven Curtis Chapman
Benediction: Deuteronomy 11:31 “You are about to cross the Jordan to enter and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you. When you have taken it over and are living there, 32 be sure that you obey all the decrees and laws I am setting before you today.”
When we think about our journey, we see the opening of our eyes as to how things really are. Yes if you look around today you still see churches going through the motions and looking as if they are following God’s word but upon careful investigation you will see they are first and foremost following a certain distinction of beliefs. Upon even closer examination we have seen that as Nehemiah said. Nehemiah 1:3 “The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” It is very important to understand our dire poverty to understand the blessing God wants to give us. Most think they are blessed but have been deceived. God does not bless pathetic apathy. Even though God from the beginning has wanted to bless us, we have turned away. Matthew 23:37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” And they haven’t! Matthew 24:15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand” Luke 21:20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.”
Is this where we want to be? No it isn’t but Lamentations gives us the reality of our desolation. Here is part of it Lamentations 2:1 “How the Lord has covered Daughter Zion with the cloud of his anger! He has hurled down the splendor of Israel from heaven to earth; he has not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger. 2 Without pity the Lord has swallowed up all the dwellings of Jacob; in his wrath he has torn down the strongholds of Daughter Judah. He has brought her kingdom and its princes down to the ground in dishonor. 3 In fierce anger he has cut off every horn of Israel. He has withdrawn his right hand at the approach of the enemy. He has burned in Jacob like a flaming fire that consumes everything around it. 7 The Lord has rejected his altar and abandoned his sanctuary. He has given the walls of her palaces into the hands of the enemy; they have raised a shout in the house of the LORD as on the day of an appointed festival. 8 The LORD determined to tear down the wall around Daughter Zion. He stretched out a measuring line and did not withhold his hand from destroying. He made ramparts and walls lament; together they wasted away. 9 Her gates have sunk into the ground; their bars he has broken and destroyed. Her king and her princes are exiled among the nations, the law is no more, and her prophets no longer find visions from the LORD. 14 The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading. 15 All who pass your way clap their hands at you; they scoff and shake their heads at Daughter Jerusalem: “Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth?” This summarizes the condition of our desolation. Understanding this should lead to repentance and thus the kingdom of God would come near again as God would shine his face upon us.
Yet I realize that most in the church think all is well and continue doing what they do week after week, never stopping to reflect on how far the church has fallen. The ways they follow are broken but they continue to follow in them anyway. They think this is just how it is supposed to be but it is not. We should be crying out for God to save us and wait until he does. Isaiah 64:1 “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! 2 As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! 3 For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. 4 Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. 5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? 6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. 7 No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins. 8 Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. 9 Do not be angry beyond measure, LORD; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people. 10 Your sacred cities have become a wasteland; even Zion is a wasteland, Jerusalem a desolation. 11 Our holy and glorious temple, where our ancestors praised you, has been burned with fire, and all that we treasured lies in ruins. 12 After all this, LORD, will you hold yourself back? Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure?”
We have been talking for some time about false gospels and the end of the end times. I trust that by now you can see and hear them, as they are everywhere. Many have sold their souls to these false gospels and have turned away from the truth to go their own way. Many Gentiles have turned to follow the ways of the Jews who reject Jesus as the Messiah. One of the areas is the temple. Without going into much detail, we know that the first temple was destroyed and the Babylonians ravaged the land and because of disobedience and only a remnant was saved. Daniel had prayed Daniel 9:18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.” When the seventy years were up, this remnant returned to the land to rebuild the temple. Ezra 3:10 “When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. 11 With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. 13 No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.” Ezra 6:14 “They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia.
So not quite like the first one but it was still awesome. It stood until Herod the Great rebuilt the structure. It also must have been something to look at. Mark 13:1 “As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” But then he described what would happen 2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” Later in 70 AD the Romans destroyed the Second Temple. One writer said “Jewish eschatology includes a belief that the Second Temple will be replaced by a future Third Temple.” Now as you now the church likes to build things. Many churches are magnificent buildings with massive operating costs. One I looked at was $550,000 a week. The church loves to show people what they can build with their hands but that isn’t the church. Acts 17:24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” You may be thinking but he did and you would be right but now he doesn’t. Yes the Jews are planning or trying to build a third temple and yes the dispensationalists are rooting them on thinking this will speed up the rapture but God already built the temple except most refuse to accept that. John 2:18 “The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” 20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.” The kingdom has come, the temple was here and they rejected Him. John 1:9 “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
Will they rebuild the temple? They are trying but Jesus is the cornerstone to the temple they had rejected, the temple already built. Isaiah 28:16 “So 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.” Psalm 118:22 “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.” Jesus said Matthew 21:43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” After Peter and John healed the lame beggar, Acts 4:2 “They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
This gospel is the temple that was built. This gospel does not need a building. In three days Jesus rose from the dead as he wasn’t talking about the building but He Himself. This is what the building, the temple looks like. 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.” 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” Why because God comes to live in us. 2 Corinthians 6:16 “We are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” The temple is the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:27 “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.” Yes then Paul talks about the excellent way of love but after that says 1 Corinthians 14:1 “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” Ephesians 3:6 “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” Romans 11:19 “You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.” This is a warning that the same thing can happen to the Gentiles as it did Israel.
So the bottom line is we are not waiting for the third temple so the rapture can happen. One end times writer quotes Jeremiah 33:14 “The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. 15 “ ‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Savior.’ 17 For this is what the LORD says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel, 18 nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.’ ” “The importance to Orthodox Jews of rebuilding the Temple lies in its role in the redemption of the world, which they believe can only take place once the Temple is rebuilt.” Another writer said “The Holy Temple in Jerusalem was never simply a building or structure, but an earthly dwelling place for the Divine Presence of God.” The problem is that we are now the temple that God dwells in. While yes it is interesting to watch but that is about it. The building of a third temple is a rejection of Jesus Christ and many in the church are supporting this denial.
As we approach our time during lent, we will begin a rebuilding journey; a journey to cross the Jordon into the promised land. No, this isn’t a building program but a time of renewal as we wait upon God to rebuild His church. Those who have gone before us did not “expose our sin to ward off our captivity,” so the enemies flooded our sanctuary. Just like Lamentations described the enemy poured in through the walls. But that is not how it is supposed to be. Psalm 144:1 “Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. 2 He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me. Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. 13 Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; 14 our oxen will draw heavy loads. There will be no breaching of walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress in our streets. 15 Blessed is the people of whom this is true; blessed is the people whose God is the LORD.” We are supposed to be a blessed people but just like the other temples were destroyed, this temple has also been desecrated and left in desolation because of our disobedience. 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.” We have already seen this take place” So like the beauty of the first temple and then even the second temple, the way has been brought into disrepute. 2 Peter 2:1 “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” This has already happened. Delusion has already been poured out on the church and our enemies have decimated us but we have great hope because God will keep his word as he said in the Jeremiah passage, which is a promise to David. Our hope is that we will rise up from the ashes, rebuild and go to the ends of the earth preaching “this Gospel and then the end will come.
The church has been a story of disgrace and humiliation. This is not how it is supposed to be. Jesus offered us life in abundance. This life was even better than the Garden of Eden. Satan was smart and got them to choose death not life. Then God said Genesis 3:22 “And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” But the plan was always life if we would just obey. 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 22:12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 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. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” God then warns 18 “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” Jesus is better than the Promised Land which was a life of blessing, better than the first temple and the second, better than anything this world could offer us but we rejected the cornerstone to go our own way. I know I have shared this before but I saw a cornerstone one time at a church with the big givers name on it. I think you get my point. That is pathetic.
I say disgrace because God has done to the church exactly what he said. 2 Chronicles 7:19 “But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 21 This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 22 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’” This disaster has fallen on us. Here is why. Malachi 2:7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. 8 But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord Almighty. 9 “So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.” Ezra described this disgrace when he prayed. Ezra 9:6 “I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.7 From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today.” Nehemiah 1:3 "They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
Last week I talked about climbing over rubble and getting ashes on our clothing. Are we not tired of this? Do we not want more? Have we become content with emptiness and powerlessness? I think the answer in our case is the same as Nehemiah. He said Nehemiah 2:17 “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” Lamentations 5:5 “Remember, Lord, what has happened to us; look, and see our disgrace. Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old.” This is not how we want to live. We cannot be content any longer with being defeated by our enemies. We too want the glory of God to fall on us once again. We want the same as when Solomon dedicated the temple and saw the glory of God. 2 Chronicles 7:1 “Then Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. 3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.” God wants to do the same for his church, just as he did at Pentecost if we would just return to him. Acts 2:1 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
The good news is God is faithful to his promises and faithful to those who seek him. Deuteronomy 4:25 “After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing his anger, 26 I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. 27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. 28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.” We serve an amazing God who will hear our cry. Deuteronomy 7:9 “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. 10 But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him. 11 Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today.” He then says, “12 If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. 13 He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and olive oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you. 14 You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor will any of your livestock be without young. 15 The Lord will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you. 16 You must destroy all the peoples the Lord your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.” Now look what Jesus did. 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 8:16 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” He then empowered his disciples to do the same. 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.” Are you not getting tired of not seeing this in the church. I know I am and this is why we wait. Luke 24:48 “You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” We wait because God said so. David said, Psalm 27:13 “I remain confident of this: 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.”
In the midst of all this chaos we have hope. Just as Israel returned to the land after the seventy years, the church will also be restored from its desolation. It will rise up once again from the ashes. The walls will be rebuilt and the gates rebuilt and will no longer be in disgrace. We were told in Ezra 9:8 “But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. 9 Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem. 13 “What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins deserved and have given us a remnant like this. 14 Shall we then break your commands again and intermarry with the peoples who commit such detestable practices? Would you not be angry enough with us to destroy us, leaving us no remnant or survivor? 15 Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.” Just like they did we have intermarried with false gospels and like Solomon have gone astray by following other gods 1 Kings 11:9 “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.”
Once again we will rebuild. 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. They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.” Isaiah 61:4 “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” 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 devastation we have grown up with will be restored once again. The church will once again be the body of Christ and the temple will rise. Our journey through lent will be one of restoration as we focus on the power available to us to rebuild. Just remember the temple is not a building. Listen to what David 1 Chronicles 22:11 “Now, my son, the Lord be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the Lord your God, as he said you would. 12 May the Lord give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. 13 Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. 17 Then David ordered all the leaders of Israel to help his son Solomon. 18 He said to them, “Is not the Lord your God with you? And has he not granted you rest on every side? For he has given the inhabitants of the land into my hands, and the land is subject to the Lord and to his people. 19 Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the Lord God.”
As we begin this journey do not be afraid. Solomon was told 1 Chronicles 28:20 “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.” God is with us and will show us the way just as he did when they entered the Promised Land. Joshua was told Joshua 1:2 “Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Year ago a book came out called the Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkenson in 2000. This book was based on this prayer 1 Chronicles 4:9 “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.” Unfortunately many thought you simply had to pray the prayer and like a lottery you would be blessed. There is nothing wrong with blessing as God tells us he wants to bless us. The part they missed was they thought it was some mantra they just had to say over and over and God would listen to them but that's not how it works. We must humble ourselves before God and turn from our wicked ways. Notice that Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. We must follow God’s word whole-heartedly and obey his word. But having said that, as we turn back to God we can pray this same prayer just as we can pray the many other prayers in the bible. David said in Psalm 109:28 “While they curse, may you bless; may those who attack me be put to shame, but may your servant rejoice.” Abraham was told Genesis 12:2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” When enemies curse; God will bless. Deuteronomy 23:5 “However, the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you.” But most did not turn back to God, they simply wanted to be blessed. But if you do turn back blessing is part of the promise from the beginning. Yes this journey involves pain and sometimes not very pleasant to say the least but we remain faithful to our God and King knowing that he will keep His word. If you have turned back to God and humbled yourself and turned from your wicked ways then pray this with me and believe God will answer in ways you cannot imagine. Exodus 34:8 “Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. 9 “Lord,” he said, “if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance. 10 Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you. 11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. 14 Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
It is so important to believe that God will do as He said he would do. But know as Daniel prayed that we have turned away from God and do not deserve it. Luke 18:8 “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” I leave you will this passage and as I read as yourself if you have that kind of faith. Matthew 8:5 “When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” 7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” 8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.”
The Promised Land is right before us. Do you believe?