The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah are two of the most important prophetic messages for our own time. They contain the story of how a remnant of God’s people returned to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon to rebuild the temple of the Lord and the walls of the city. These faithful ones met with continuous opposition and criticism from the nations around them, and even from some of their own fellow Jews who had remained in the land. One of their most vehement enemies, Sanballat, said the following concerning them:
“And he spoke in the presence of his brothers and the wealthy men of Samaria and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Are they going to restore it for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?” Nehemiah 4:2.
Today the enemy of the work of God is making the same railing accusations. There is a remnant of people who are leaving the comfort of religious Babylon with a vision of seeing the temple of the Lord restored to its former glory. It takes extraordinary faith to leave Babylon and make the spiritual journey to the place where the temple is going to be rebuilt, where there will be a true church life just as the Lord intended it to be from the beginning. Then, after the journey has been made, we can expect the attacks from the jealous critics and enemies of the Lord to be continuous. One of the challenges that can be counted on is the question raised above: How can these be rebuilt with burned stones?
In fact, both the rebuilt temple and walls of the city were constructed with stones that had been burned during the destruction of the former temple and city. These were the ones that had been through the previous failure, and now looked useless for building anything, much less the glorious temple of the Lord, or the walls that represented salvation (see Isaiah 60:18). Are you one of these burnt stones? Have you been through a work that seemed glorious and pregnant with potential, only to end in a terrible disappointment? Have you been burned? If so, then you are a prime candidate for the glorious new work that the Lord is doing today.
Burnt stones may not look good on the outside, but they have been through the fire — they have been tested. It takes a great faith to endure a tragic failure, and then rise up again with a determination to keep pursuing the vision. Think of the kind of faith that it took for this remnant to return to the scene of their greatest failure and devastation with the resolve to start all over again. It takes that kind of vision to endure the opposition and discouragements that will surely come during the restoration.
If you have not been through the testing of a serious spiritual failure, you may be too idealistic to understand the real purpose of what the Lord is doing. Everything that the Lord is doing in this age is intended to be a testimony of His power of redemption. As stated, burned stones may not look as good on the outside, but the Lord has never cared about what His dwelling places looked like on the outside. Those who have been through the fire of failure, and are ready to be used again, are probably just right on the inside for what He wants to build.
Both Ezra and Nehemiah ultimately prevailed because they kept their focus on the work, and refused to let the criticism or opposition stop them. They did answer their accusers at times, and they worked with their swords in one hand, always ready to do battle if attacked. We will have to learn to do the same. There will be times to work and to fight, but let us always remember that our main job is to complete the work.
We all come for the same thing, to see the Lord have a habitation among His people. To have His manifest presence in our midst is worth anything that we must endure. Those who are called to the work must learn to recognize those that Jude called “faultfinders” (see Jude 1:16 NIV) and resist them. It is part of the testing that must come with every significant work.
Such attacks also tend to thin the ranks of those without the courage to be part of the work at this stage. When Israel mustered for battle, the Lord often removed those who were too fearful from the ranks. This is a pruning that must take place before something of true spiritual significance can be built, or before some important battles can be fought. Criticism and false accusations really should be encouraging to us. There are times to answer them, and there are times to draw the sword against the accuser of the brethren, but most of the time we just need to keep our attention on the work that we have been given to do. The greatest answer to every criticism will be the completed work.
~ Pastor Rick Joyner
|Pastor Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the Senior Pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church.|