“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.

Friday, June 04, 2010

God our Savior

“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 scene we need to look at the account of Joshua, written in the book of Ezra. Chapter 1 was Cyrus’ proclamation to Israel to rebuild the temple of the Lord. Chapter 2 lists the families, under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua, who left their land of captivity to return home to rebuild Israel and the temple—approximately 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 around which the people willingly united “as one man”. It had been 70 years since they had worshipped at God’s altar. Their fathers had despised the altar of the Lord before the destruction of Jerusalem, and the brokenness and contrition that came from witnessing the death of innocent lambs and kid goats and heifers they had ridiculed. Hard-hearted, licentious Baal worship had been the popular form of religion. But now, through 70 years of hard labor, the Lord had given the Jews a 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, a new place for God to dwell with them.

But, no sooner had they laid the foundation of the house of God than the local people wanted to join in the work. Maybe it meant employment and an income for a while—money being their primary motive. But others more wily, through Satan’s inspiration, wanted to take some of the glory of the building, “I built that!” “Our people built that.” But worse, it would also provide them occasion for influencing the service of Jehovah and the Hebrew religion.

Therefore, Zerubbabel the prince and Joshua the high priest could only give them 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). “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).

“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.” (vs. 4-6).

Do you know this experience? Has this ever happened to you? Have you turned your back on God, on repentance and consecration, and so He let the devil harass and destroy you and bury you under a mountain of trouble? Finally you began to desire reconciliation with heaven and peace with God, and finally returned to the old altar you had despised so long before. You sensed that God had brought you back to Himself and faith took hold of His promises to forgive and receive you again to Himself. “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 desired to rebuild a new religious experience to house the God who had reclaimed you. And like the builders of the temple in Israel we laid the foundation, and then worried if it would measure 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, that we should do this like they’ve done, or like that because it worked for them. But in reality, Jesus is guiding us to rebuild on Him and our new covenant with Him.

“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). Christ is our schoolmaster and wise character builder, and He will teach us out of His law.

“Blessed is the man whom Thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of Thy law.” (Ps. 94:12). “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” (Ps. 119:18).”Thou through Thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.” (Ps. 119:98).

We cannot abide by the restrictions and alterations of God’s will which Satan and his agents would place upon us to confuse us. We are counseled from the scripture principle: “David girded his [Saul’s] sword upon his [Saul’s] armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him.” (1Sam. 17:39). Likewise should the children of God let the Spirit and His baptism be their guide.

But when Satan sees that his proffered advice goes unheeded, he turns on us to frustrate our efforts to gain a better, clearer knowledge of Jesus and His righteousness.
“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 Asnapper 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).

All the past was dredged up in public and the work to build the temple ended. Shame and discouragement stopped the work of God for two years. This is where Zechariah and his vision of Joshua enter the scene. Joshua saw himself and his people guilty of huge sins—unforgettable sins. Have you ever felt that your past was unforgivable and unforgettable? It seemed that way to Joshua, even after having worked so hard on God’s temple.

So the Lord represented this to Zechariah in the figure of Joshua clothed in filthy, putrid rags. Joshua was wholly unfit to seek God—or was He? He was seeking the Lord anyway, with or without the right to do so, with or without Satan’s permission to do so. This, God always accepts. This boldness comes only from real faith, desperate faith. This kind of faith is a gift of God, drawn from us at His prompting. Was Joshua hoping for God’s mercy? How dare he? Yet, how else can we approach the Holy One? There is only one way to come to Christ—in hoping that He will be merciful and accepting of us, not because we deserve it, but hoping against hope that He will consider our dire case, in spite of our unmentionable history. None of us deserve even the least of His mercies, right?

“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 had raised up Nebuchadnezzar to punish Israel. Those Jews whose pride was abased 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 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.” (vs. 4,5). That beautiful headband on his forehead had a small golden plate attached with the inscription, “HOLINESS TO THE LORD.” (Ex. 28:36;39:30). The seal of the living God.

“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 wonderful new power to build and finish the dwelling place for God. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4:13). Now nothing could stop Joshua and Zerubbabel—not even threats from powerful local authorities appealing to the king of the empire.

The second effort was made to stop the temple building, “which temple ye are;” but to of no avail. (1Cor. 3:17). The whole time Darius was researching the Jews’ authority to rebuild the temple, the temple rebuilding went right on, not slowing a bit. The people had a mind to work because the highest authority in heaven and earth had revealed His condescending love for them by granting them the vision given through Zechariah.

“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). “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6). “Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” will begin it and He will finish our building and He will receive our glory. (Heb. 12:2).

The work of sanctification and the building of our soul temple is Christ’s work. “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 involved, yes. But our part in our salvation is to seek Jesus and to let His Spirit guide us into full sanctification. “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (Jn. 1:12,13).

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Tit. 3:5) Not by human might or willpower in obedience, but in whatever it takes to get a clearer view of Christ, His righteousness and acceptance of humbled sinners. Persistence in prayer is how Joshua got through to Jesus. And the Angel of the Lord will be the inspiration and power for our temple rebuild; and we will give Him all the glory.


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