weekly Word – 12/15/22

You've Got a Friend

The life of a believer is often painful and dangerous. Abel was murdered, Ezekiel lost his wife. Elijah, Elisha and Jeremiah were branded enemies of the state. Zechariah, John the Baptist, Stephen, James, Paul, and Peter were killed.

While the world makes ministry hard, God often lightens the load by providing partners. When Moses needed help speaking, God gave him Aaron. When Saul persecuted David, God gave him Jonathan. When King Zedekiah had Jeremiah thrown into a cistern, God saved him from the pit through Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian. Both times that Jesus sent his disciples to evangelize Israel, He sent in pairs (Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6).

God has a pattern of using believers to help other believers.

After God ended the Jews' captivity in Babylon in 539 BC, King Cyrus the Persian told them to rebuild the temple. He supplied them with the resources to do it just as God had prophesied (Isaiah 44:28; Ezra 5:15).

But after many years, the Jews had failed to finish God's temple. The building had stopped because the Jews were fearful of the political pressure brought by their neighbors, the Samaritans (Ezra 4).

How would God re-motivate the Jews to finish rebuilding His temple? He called two prophets: Zechariah and Haggai.

Notice how these two books begin:

Haggai 1:1 "In the second year of Darius the king, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of Yahweh came by the hand of Haggai the prophet..."

Zechariah 1:1 "In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of Yahweh came to Zechariah the prophet..."

He called both men to prophesy in the same year, only two months apart.

However, if you scan through these two prophetic books, you'll notice they are very different. The book of Zechariah is fourteen chapters of stunning and complex visions stretching from his time through the millennial reign of Christ. It is an epic apocalyptic book like Daniel and Revelation. The book of Haggai is two chapters filled with practical reminders, warnings, and encouragement to rebuild the temple as God commanded. It is a step-by-step retelling of how God guided this process.

What's the result? God used two different prophets at the same time to accomplish his perfect plan.

The book of Ezra confirms this. Listen to Ezra 5:1-2, "And the prophets, Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them supporting them." Zerubbabel the governor and Jeshua the priest don't argue or delay when God speaks to them through these two unanimous prophets. They cooperated immediately with the word God gave through His two prophets.

Finally, Ezra 6:14 records the completion of God's temple. "And the elders of the Jews were building and succeeding through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. So they built and completed it according to the decree of the God of Israel and the decree of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia."

There's some very intentional use of verbs in this passage:

- the elders (esp. Zerubbabel and Jeshua) were "building and succeeding"

- Haggai and Zechariah facilitated that success through "prophesying"

- the Jews "built and completed it" according to God's decree

- they also did it according to the decree of the Persian kings

The lesson couldn't be more clear: God uses very different people to accomplish His perfect plan. God built the second temple through demotivated people, struggling leaders, two faithful prophets, and three pagan kings.

What's God's plan for us? 

Jesus gave it when He departed this earth. "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to keep all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt 28:19-20)

God's plan for us is that we would make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to keep everything Jesus commanded.

Are you struggling to find your role in the Great Commission? Start by asking God if there's someone who can work in ministry with you. He does great things when His people work together to accomplish His mission.

Pastor David