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Revelation  4 : 1
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
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Dance Like David Danced
In Defense of the Faith
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Wendy Wippel

Ever feel like God isn’t listening?  You pray.  (Nothing happens)  Cry out to Him. (Still nothing.)  Maybe, like Jacob, purpose ''not to let go until You bless me''.  (Nada again). And then, suddenly and inexplicably, the seas part and His favor, seemingly, returns.  But 'why' is a mystery?  We’ve all been there, right?

We’re in good company. The nation of Israel, released from captivity in Babylon, set about immediately and enthusiastically rebuilding the temple. (Ezra 1)

Surely that was God's will, right?

Apparently not.

"Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." (Psalm 127:1 NKJV)

The Samaritans got involved, that created a ruckus, and they eventually threw in the trowel.

Four Persian kings later, the Jews tried again and this time the proverbial skids were greased.  Now the work was completed easily.  No problems.  Rebuilding a temple?  Piece of cake!

What made the difference?

It wasn't, as we tend to think, that the Jews had finally become obedient, or that they had prayed enough prayers.

Nope. It was rather, that their "times are in his hands". (Psalm 31:15) God had already announced that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years (Daniel 9: 1-3) and then at that time His favor would return:

"LORD Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem… which you have been angry with these seventy years?…I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. …the LORD will again choose Jerusalem."  (Zechariah 1:12-16)

Actually God makes it a point to emphasize that His favor did not return because of their obedience:

"I struck you with blight and mildew and hail in all the labors of your hands; yet you did not turn to Me,’ says the Lord. 18 ‘Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid—consider it: 19 Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you." (Haggai 2:10-19)

It wasn’t about their character, it was about His.  God keeps His promises, even though we don’t.  God chose on that day to bless the project.  Why?

God said the desolation of Jerusalem—the absence of the Temple—would last seventy years.  Should it surprise us, then, that the period of time between the beginning of Nebuchanezzar’s siege against Jerusalem ( II Kings 25) and the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month in Haggai—the exact day that God’s favor returned to Jerusalem—is exactly 70 years?  God fulfilled His promises in His own appointed time.

The thing to realize is that God’s times aren’t arbitrary.  The word says that My times are in His hands, not that His own times are in His hands.  And in that there is hope.  The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is by definition a personal God, a covenant God, who inexplicably is willing to be inextricably bound to our futures.

According to II Samuel 14:14, we will all die,

“But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.” (NIV)

And God employs those ways in His own times.  He loves us, protects us, consoles us, chastises us, and ultimately, all to one end.  To end, once for all, our banishment from Him.

But the reasons for God’s ways-- in our times—are  not always readily apparent, are they?  That gives us the opportunity to offer God the sacrifice of praise—a willingness to yield to His will, look to God for a peace that surpasses a rational understanding of our circumstances, trust His word and character, and offer praise.

It’s a sacrifice to submit your perception of the situation to the promise of His faithfulness.  It costs us the right to control our own destiny.  It costs us the right to have an explanations for God’s working or timing.

Big sacrifices, and ones that don’t come easy.

And ones that David was all too familiar with.

David thought God needed a house. His motives were right.  He thought God deserved a better house than He had. (I Chronicles 17)

He even sought counsel; Nathan encouraged his plans:

“Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.” (I Chronicles 17:2)

But God had other plans: "

Thus says the Lord: You shall not build Me a house to dwell in. For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought up Israel, even to this day, but have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another. Wherever I have moved about with all Israel, have I ever spoken a word to any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar”. (I Chronicles 17:4-6)

It wasn’t in God’s plan at the moment to build the house that David envisioned.  Why?  Because David and the rest of God’s people were still banished.  And God had a plan to bring them back.

And that’s what He tells David:

"I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously,  since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel. Also I will subdue all your enemies. Furthermore I tell you that the Lord will build you a house. And it shall be, when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. And I will establish him in My house and in My kingdom forever; and his throne shall be established forever.” (I Chronicles 17 9-14)

It wasn’t God’s plan for David to build a house, it was His plan to build David a house—a nation from which the promised Messiah would come.  The lamb of God that would take away David’s sin.

The once-for all sacrifice that would take away the sin of the whole world.

David’s vision-a stone and mortar physical dwelling for God—was chump change for a God that can do immeasurably more than he could ask or imagine.  God made human flesh His dwelling, following us into sin and conquering death so that one day we can stand in His presence blameless, with great joy.

And aren’t you glad!

I had a day yesterday when every plan I had was frustrated, and, since every day has enough evil of its own, it won’t be a shock if today isn’t much better.

The good news is that my times are in His hands, and ultimately His plans are always going to trump mine anyway.  I just have to trust Him.  He is building my house.

And God is good!

About Wendy Wippel

Last week: Requiem for Jimmy



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