Friday, January 22, 2010

When it all comes crashing down...

What is the reason when it all comes crashing down? When what was stable is gone and "normal" no longer is? Where is God when what seemed to be good and right and pleasing to Him is destroyed in your life?

Let me answer with a quick history lesson. The people of Israel, as we know from the Old Testament, are God's chosen people. However, because of their sin, God let them be taken into captivity in two groups, in 722 BC and in 586 BC. At this point there was no longer a nation of Israel, as its people had been scattered across the face of the earth and the Temple lay in ruins in Jerusalem. Even a casual acquaintance with the OT shows how important the Temple was to the Jews. It was here they offered their sacrifices to God, and gathered to celebrate their feasts and holidays, but now they were far from home; how would they worship God now? And should they even continue to worship God? After all, He'd let them be conquered, captured, and lead away and His house had been destroyed. Why should they worship but if so, how?

Because of all this turmoil the synagogues became very important. The synagogue was not the Temple; it was merely a gathering place in which Scripture was read to the people, and any man could stand up and read from the scrolls as there was no appointed priest as there were in the temples. The scattered Jews could not offer sacrifices to God as captives in a foreign land so worshipping God became more about seeking Him with their hearts than serving Him with their hands. The very thing God has rebuked them for throughout Scripture, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men." Isaiah 29:13, has now been made right in their captivity.

The scattering of the people and the destruction of the Temple lead the people to a place where God began to do a new thing. Because of the synagogues all the people were well versed in the scriptures something that was not true in the days of the Temple. Worshipping God became more a matter of the heart than of rote attention to ceremonial practices; all of this paving the way so that when Jesus appeared on the scene the stage had been set for His ministry and the spread of the Gospel!

I share this because in my own world the “temple” had crashed and I was feeling a bit exiled. A new pastor came to my church and it was quickly evident this was not a man I agreed with doctrinally or could follow. I was busy about the Lord’s work in numerous ways in the church; singing and teaching, leading and organizing. If I were to leave, my entire “ministry” would end. How could that be a good thing? How could the cessation of sacrifices to God be what God would want? Surely it must be better to be doing some good than no good at all? To have some place to speak truth than to be without a church home and have no voice for the Kingdom?

I don’t all have the answers yet, or as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story”, but I look at this history and realize that God is so often busy doing something bigger than we can even fathom. Like He was in the story of Joseph in Genesis when Joseph has been sold into slavery and ends up being the ruler that rescues his family from starvation. At the end of the story Joseph stands before his brothers and says, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day” Genesis 50:20

If we are seeking Him; if we want to honor Him with our lives (Philippians 1:20) God does not stop working when everything else around us has.

“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:50) I do not know what this “new” thing will be but I do know that historically what God creates “it (is) very good.” (Genesis 1:31) be His creating out of nothing or molding something new for us out of broken pieces.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Becky,look forward to a great class with you in 521. Blessed by your insight. keep posting...i'll keep reading.

I really like your connecting the ruined Solomon's Temple and God creating out of both nothing (Heb. bara) and out of the broken pieces of our lives.

I did a little research of the Heb. word for create and found that "Beriya" or "fattened" to describe the cows in Gen.41:4 comes from the same word "Bara" in Gen.1:1 (see Strong's Heb. 1277)...so God took what was empty and filled it up (fattened it)...a slightly new perspective on the Hebrew mentality here, perhaps.

God not only takes the brokenness of our lives in His creative activity, but the emptiness. He's the only one that can reach into nothingness, the void, and create in that sense, filling up His creation for his intended purpose.

I guess we all have a bit of both in our lives: emptiness or incompleteness without God (no matter how small or wide the nook or valley) as well as toppled ruins. Our priority is to put God first in all things and let Him give us meaning, let Him tell us what His plan is so we can make sense of the ruins. When we do that, we see the spiritual temple that he intended for us all along: The temple of the heart where real worship takes place.

Just my two cents.

-Matthew C.
Modesto, CA