July 22, 2012

Revealing Christ In The Old Testament XI: Build It And They Will Come


About one decade passes between the reforms of Ezra and the time Nehemiah is granted leave from Artaxerxes. He had been motivated to return by the news of the desolate condition of the city with its broken walls. Nehemiah found it even as he had heard, and together with elders decided, "...let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work." (Nehemiah 2:18)

This restoration was laid on people by the Spirit and began at the heart/core of things and spread outwards. When the heart is right with God, and established as His dwelling-place, the outward work of His service in the world can go forward.

The entire book of Nehemiah is thick with the idea of the “servant of Christ”. It begins with
with Nehemiah's confession to God, in which he humbles himself on account of the condition of his people. He shows himself to be a servant of people for God and a servant of God for the people. He familiarizes himself with the details of the needs of Temple and the people. He is portrayed as a holy man of prayer. But he is not only that, he is a born statesman, and as such brings his God given gifts and powers into God's service. We could literally be describing Jesus here.

He utilizes the power of co-operation and unity in a body working together, and he inspires a those that at first seem unable…to accomplish a great works in his stead. He manages to get people that normally wouldn’t even associate with one another to work together: priests, rulers and merchants, worked side by side as brothers brothers-in-arms with a common defining purpose-to rebuild the glory of the Temple to God. In a literal respect Jesus does the same with His church. He brings those of disparate and differing backgrounds into a unified body called the Church to glorify of God. We are told of explicit detail as Nehemiah is literally working to a plan both in rebuilding the Temple and God building His kingdom in History. Nehemiah manages to accomplish both simultaneously. By rebuilding the Temple he pushes the march of God’s history forward to an unavoidable and inexorable pinnacle in Jesus Christ. Nothing is overlooked any more than God would overlook the exact details of history unfolding from His throne. The irony or perhaps the plan of it is beautiful in the fact that God picks the humblest of servants to perform the service for Him.

Adversarial Relationships

Interestingly, Nehemiah was mocked mercilessly by the Samaritans. In particular it came from Sanballat the Horonite. In front of the rich of Samarians we hear, “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?” Tobiah the Ammonite was near him and he said, “Even what they are building—if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down!” We here the same sort of disbelief and incredulity when Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." Of course Jesus was referring to Himself. Furthermore, just like Jesus, Nehemiah’s ridicule from others turns to anger as he gains success and gets closer to reaching his goal. The more the will of God is fulfilled by or through God’s chosen, the more like it is that those of the world system will mount dogged resistance whether it be im mockery or violence. So it is not surprising what we read in Nehemiah 4:8, “All of them conspired together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause a disturbance in it.”

Nehemiah armed the builders, and gave orders that in what place they heard the sound of the trumpet they were come to defend the city. Then the enemy tried four times to evil devising
to draw Nehemiah off task, asking him to meet them in the plain of Ono. Four times he sent the same retort, " I am doing a great work, why should the work stop, so I can leave it, and
come down to you?" Although the retorts are not nearly as good as Jesus’, the same type of stratagem is used by the Devil to tempt Christ in the wilderness to get Jesus to forfeit His ministry and draw Him off task. Even today our enemies still use similar threats and plots, to hinder or discourage believers from doing God's work (like we need any help on this front).

Genealogies & A Great High Priest.

Another interesting thing often overlooked in Nehemiah is the register of those who first came from Babylon under Zerubbabel is again repeated here. It looks like just another list of names but the end of the register is what should draw our attention. Within this register are some of the priests who sought their register in the genealogy but it “could not be found, so therefore were
They were excluded from the priesthood as unclean.

Nehemiah 7:63-65~”And from among the priests: The descendants of Hobaiah, Hakkoz and Barzillai (a man who had married a daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that name). These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. The governor, therefore, ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there should be a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim.”

Here is another illustration of Christ from the Old Testament. To miss it is to be blind to Scripture. If one is looking for Christ in the Hebrew Scripture, this is a neon sign. It is as bold as it is unexpected. Right after a redundant list of names we see Jesus. Jesus is the capstone of both Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies in the New Testament, so too here we see an auspicious nod to Jesus at the end of a register/genealogy. In particular a register of a few priests who could not find their place in it. They were to be people that were holy people. But apparently because of God’s plans, they were not to be holy of their own accord but by a priest that would minister in their stead just as Jesus our Great High Priest does for us. We too are unclean, unworthy until our High Priest Jesus acts on our behalf. Christ is a great High Priest—not by genealogy of Aaron, but "after the order of Melchizedek," who was "without genealogy” as stated in Hebrews 7:3. Melchizedek's genealogy was, no doubt, omitted to fit him all the more to be a type of Jesus not because he didn’t have a genealogy but it was just unknown. God has called all believers in Christ to be Priests. Our right of priesthood being totally dependent on whether we’re born again and have our names written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

Ezra's Preaching with Authority

The immediate result of the work of restoration was a great hunger for God's Word. When people are restored into a proper relationship with God through justification in Christ…this also ends up being one of the signs of a true believer. They intently study and crave the World of God. They desire to learn it…so they can better obey it. The people gathered themselves together as one man around Ezra before the Water Gate, and begged him to bring the Book of the Law of Moses (the Pentateuch). It is here that we see both bastions of restoration united in Ezra and Nehemiah to do God’s work. Ezra's preaching is profound. He opened the book, and having prayed, read the Law clearly and people understood it…and the people did not weary of it. Just as we see in the true believer. The Word…that is simple enough for a child to understand but deep enough for an elephant to wade in. Day after day they listened. Any that "could understand" Ezra stayed on. As a person learns more of God as they grow in God they become more convicted. Why? Because as man becomes more aware of God and understands Him better, they begin to understand and sense just how far they fall short of Him or even His demands of them. We are never as obedient as we think we are. None are righteous...no, not one. The people of Ezra and Nehemiah's time then weep. Weep of their shortcoming in sadness. Then the weep in joy that God would still remember them and desire to have a relationship with them. All pointing to Jesus Christ. The joy is also caused by turning themselves over to God's will. What does Nehemiah 8:12 say?:

"Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them."

Another decade unfolds and what do we suppose happens? Backsliding once more. Nehemiah, who had gone back at the Court of Shushan for a time then returns to Jerusalem only to find all the terms of the covenant broken and the Law disregarded. Again Nehemiah is forced to contended with the rulers because he found that the service of the House of the Lord was neglected and they had actually given over a chamber in the Temple to this enemy of the Lord. They had forsaken the Sabbath.

The utter disregard of God's Day (Sunday) is one of the evidences of the backslidden condition of the Church in our own time. It has spread upon our land like disease and is a sign of the perilous times of these last days. It is the image of a remnant that will be saved by belief in Christ. The path is narrow to salvation but wide is the path to destruction.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...