Sunday, June 9, 2019

Thriving in the messy stage of God's rebuilding work...

The book of Zechariah is all about the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem after decades of being ruled by their enemies. In The Message Study Bible, Eugene Petersen begins each book with some commentary about the history. In his commentary on Zechariah about this time in Israel's history he writes, "Their self identity as the people of God was in ruins...they had been knocked around by world powers, kicked and mocked, used and abused...they were in danger of...losing their magnificent identity as God's people."

If you've ever lived in a house during remodeling, you know that it's a challenging situation to deal with. It always gets worse before it gets better. While Demo Day might be a day of celebration on the popular TV show, Fixer Upper, in real life there's nothing glamorous about living in the demolition stage of a home remodel. 

This year, as I'm reading through the Bible, I'm noticing how consistent God is in His patterns. I am also noticing that what He does in the physical realm is a pattern for how He works in the spiritual realm and in our inner being. Let me give you some examples...

The Bible begins with the story of creation. It opens with these words.
 "Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottom-less emptiness, an inky blackness. 
God's Spirit brooded like a bird over the watery abyss" Gen. 1:2 MSG 
To brood means to sit on or incubate, to produce, to cover with the wings. The Holy Spirit was at work in the middle of the chaos and darkness to create. I believe with all of my heart that God's Holy Spirit is brooding over our chaos, our emptiness, our darkness and will create something beautiful out of it all.

Another example is in the building of the Tabernacle of Moses. There was the outer court, which can be likened to our body, our outer shell. There was the Holy Place, which can be likened to our soul, our mind, will and emotions. There was the Most Holy Place or Holy of Holies, which can be likened to our spirit. God's Word says that we are now the temple of His Spirit, not a man made building. In the building of the tabernacle, I was fascinated to realize that the first thing made for the Tabernacle was the Ark of the Covenant which went in the Holy of Holies, the place of God's presence. In others words, God had them work on the Tabernacle furnishings from the inside out. I believe this is a pattern for us to follow. Our primary focus should be on building up our spirit, our innermost being-focusing on building our life from the inside out, not from the outside in.

Which brings me back to the book of Zechariah. The first thing that exiled Israel was to rebuild in their devastated homeland was God's temple. In Haggai we read that some of the Israelite's lost focus and began to rebuild their own homes without finishing the temple. Haggai and Zechariah led them back to their primary identity, back to their original purpose, back to their first love. The reason they had been in exile for decades was because of their worship of other gods. Rebuilding the temple as their first act on returning to their homeland was an important statement that they were repenting and returning to the one true God and to Him alone. 

I think many of us are in the chaos stage, the remodeling messy stage in our lives. We may have been though some hard things, we may have been knocked around, used and abused and it may have caused us to lose touch with our identity and purpose. We may be bearing the painful consequences of going our way and wandering away from God and His ways. Regardless of the what, why or how, God's Spirit is hovering over His reconstruction sight in us. He wants to, He promises to, rebuild us. Because we want so badly to be finished with the messy stage of God's rebuilding process we might be tempted to take some shortcuts-to try to slap a fresh coat of paint on the outside and call it good. God, however, does all things well. He doesn't rush. He wants to start from the inside out, rebuilding our temple, our spirit. It takes time but He promises not to leave the job half done. 
And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you 
will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return],
developing[that good workand perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you. Philippians 1:6 MSG 
He wants to make a beautiful temple within us that He can dwell in, stay in abide in, and never ever leave. God is the actual builder and maker, we can't do this by your own self effort. Our self effort is just window dressing, not true quality reconstruction.  Our part in the rebuilding process is simply choosing and setting our mind to listen and responsively obey His voice. When we yield and surrender and let Him have His way within us and obey Him, He is free to rebuild and reconstruct our ruined and devastated place and to make something truly beautiful out of us. 


  1. Love that analogy. Had never thought of the building of the Tabernacle quite like that before. Reminds me of the scripture about what comes out of our mouth from the heart. The Holy Spirit is the heart of our tabernacle body. Have a nice week ahead.

    1. I love that God always speaks to us in layers from His word. Moses tabernacle was a real, physical part of the history of the children of Israel, but also has much symbolism for us.

  2. surrendering to the process...and the process is rarely linear. Thanks for the reminder this afternoon.


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