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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Brands plucked from the fire

“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” (Zech. 3:1,2).

To understand this we need to look at the account written in the book of Ezra. Chapter 1 was Cyprus’ proclamation to Israel to rebuild the temple. Chapter 2 lists the families who left captivity to return home to rebuild Israel and the temple—almost 50,000 people.

“And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.
Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.
And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.
They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required;
And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.
From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.
They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.” (Ezra 3:1-7).

An altar was set up to which all the people willingly united around. It had been 70 years since they had worshipped at God’s altar. That altar had been despised before the destruction of Jerusalem and conversion and repentance had been completely dismissed. Now the Lord had given a beautiful new heart and mind toward spirituality and consecration to His service.

“Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD.
Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites.
And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.
And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because He is good, for His mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:
So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.” (Ezra 3:8-13). They desired a new temple.

But no sooner had they laid the foundation of the house for God than the local people wanted to join in the work. Maybe it meant employment and a temporary income—money being their primary motive. But another reason was that they wanted to take some of the credit of the building. “I built that!” “Our people built that.” It would also give Satan opportunity for influencing the service and the Hebrew religion. But Zerubbabel the prince and Joshua the high priest could give them only one answer: “Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.” (Ezra 4:3).

“Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,
And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.” (Ezra 4:4-6).

Do you know this experience? Has this ever happened to you? Have you turned your back on God and on repentance and consecration to Him, and so He let the devil come in and bury you under a mountain of trouble? Finally you began to desire reconciliation with heaven and finally returned to the old altar you had despised. You sensed that God had brought you back to Himself and faith took hold of His promises to forgive and receive you again. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you.
And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.
And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” (Jer. 29:11-14).

Now you desire to rebuild a new religious experience to house the God who had reclaimed you from a life of living death. And like the builders of the temple in Israel we laid the foundation but worried if it measured up to the faith we remembered having in our more innocent, younger years.

Then came along people to “help” us rebuild according to their specification. “We should do this, like they’ve done,” or that, “because it worked for them.” Human traditions. But in reality, God is guiding us to rebuild on His statutes and ways and on our new covenant with Him. He has the specification and we must follow His guiding. “These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.
But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.” (1Jn 2:26,27).

He is our schoolmaster, and He will teach us out of His law. “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
Thou through Thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers: for Thy testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Thy precepts.” (Ps. 119:97-100).

We cannot abide by the restrictions and alterations from God’s will which Satan would place on us. But when Satan sees that his counsels go unheeded, he turns on us to frustrate our efforts to gain a better, clearer knowledge of Jesus and His righteousness. He weighs us down with our bad past.

“And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue.
Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort:
Then wrote Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, and the Elamites,
And the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnappar brought over, and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest that are on this side the river, and at such a time.
This is the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, even unto Artaxerxes the king; Thy servants the men on this side the river, and at such a time.
Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations.
Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up again, then will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings.
Now because we have maintenance from the king’s palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king;
That search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city destroyed.
We certify the king that, if this city be builded again, and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river.
Then sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and unto the rest beyond the river, Peace, and at such a time.
The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me.
And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein.
There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all countries beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them.
Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until another commandment shall be given from me.
Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings?
Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power.
Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.” (Ezra 4:7-24).

The past was dredged up in public and the work to build the temple ended. Shame and discouragement stopped the work of God for 2 years. This is where Zechariah and his vision of Joshua enter. Joshua saw himself and his people guilty of heinous sins—unforgettable sins. Have you ever felt that our past was unforgivable? It seemed like that to Joshua. So the Lord represented that in a vision to Zechariah through the figure of Joshua in putrid, raggedy, beggar’s clothing. Joshua was wholly unfit to seek God—or was he? But he was doing it anyway. Was he hoping for God’s mercy? Satan’s argument was, “How can he? How dare he?” But how else can we approach the holy One? There is only one way to come to Christ—acknowledging our deficiencies and faultiness but hoping He will be merciful and accepting. Because none of us deserve even the least of His mercies.

All we can ever pray is Daniel’s prayer, “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from Thy judgments:
Neither have we hearkened unto Thy servants the prophets, which spake in Thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither Thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against Thee.
O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against Thee.
To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him.” (Dan. 9:5-9).

The Lord raised up Nebuchadnezzar to punish Israel. Those whose pride was humbled were received again into the Lord’s love and peace. So we see Christ, the Angel of the Lord, forcing Satan to leave the sinner who was seeking to regain a lost relationship with God. “And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” (Zech. 3:2). “And He answered and spake unto those that stood before Him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him He said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.
And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the Angel of the LORD stood by.” (Zech. 3:4, 5).

“Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.” (Ezra 5:2). With justification and reconciliation with God came a new power to build and finish the dwelling place for the Lord. Now nothing could stop them, not even threats from powerful local authorities appealing to the king. The effort was made to stop the temple building, “which temple ye are.” (1Cor. 3:17). “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2Cor. 6:16). The whole time the king was researching the authority to rebuild the temple; the temple rebuilding was going on through to the end, not slowing a bit; this because of the Lord’s vision to Zechariah for all the people represented in Joshua the high priest.

“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.” (Zech. 4:6,7).

“And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” (1Sam. 17:47).

We have our own temple to build for the indwelling of the Spirit of God. But the building is God’s work with our cooperation. Under His supervision, we build the soul temple for His abiding presence. “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him. …
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (Jn. 14:21,23). “If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.” (Jn. 15:10). “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:12 ,13). And we have He promise, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6). “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2). He will begin it and He will finish it.

The work of sanctification and building the soul temple is God’s work. “The battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2Chron. 20:15). “And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the LORD:
Even He shall build the temple of the LORD; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” (Zech. 6:12,13). We are definitely involved. No one is coerced into building for God. But if we don’t build, then we won’t have His abiding presence. If that is what we want, we can live out our threescore years and ten here and then die, as if we never existed.

But if we want more than this, we must work for it. We must seek Him and let His Spirit guide us in how to get a clearer view of Christ and His righteousness and acceptance. But He will be the inspiration for His temple building. And He will get all the credit. “My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.” (Ps. 34:2).

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