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Monday, October 30, 2017

WHEN OLD MEN KILL YOUNG MEN ... GOD IS WATCHING!

(MAY GOD BLESS ALL THE CALEBS AND JOSHUAS OUT THERE)

Somewhere around 605 BC, the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, invaded, conquered and enslaved the Israelites–this captivity lasted 70 years (Jer 25:11-12). The Babylonians totally destroyed their house of worship (Solomon’s temple). This was tragic. Solomon’s Temple was the wonder of the world. No expense was spared when building it. Tons of gold, the rarest jewels, and the finest lumber and cloth in the world was gathered and used to build God’s House. When the Babylonians were done there was nothing left but ashes and memories.

Please, take note that these things happened because God removed His favor from Israel. He removed His favor because of their sins. (I’ll repeat this statement in a moment).

About 70 years later, Cyrus the Persian overthrew the Babylonians and gave permission for the Jews to return to their homeland. Almost 50,000 Jews left Babylon and returned to Palestine. Three years later, in 535 BC, they laid the foundation for a new Temple, thus ending the 70 years of their captivity.

For the younger men and women, it was a time of great joy. The Bible says they shouted aloud because they were so joyful. The strange thing is the older folks were not excited–they were not shouting over what they were seeing. Instead, the Bible says they were weeping and crying out loud (Ezra 3:11-13). Now, you may ask why the young people were excited and praising the Lord while the older men were sad and weeping? Let’s allow the Bible to the answer that question.

Ezr 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:
13 So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.

 
THEY WERE CONSUMED WITH THE GHOSTS OF THE PAST!
 

These older men remembered the first temple. They remembered the Grandeur, the Gold, and the Glory of Solomon’s Temple. They remembered the old days when the temple of the Lord was one of he wonders of the world. They couldn’t enjoy what the younger people were building because they esteemed it to be less than what they had experienced. While the young men were rejoicing the older men were crying and saying:
   
Hag 2:3 Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?
       
They could see that the new temple was smaller and lacked much of the grandeur of Solomon’s temple which they esteemed to be superior, so they refused to rejoice with the younger men. I think some of those old men and women are still around today.

NEWFANGLED RELIGION


 I came up in a church world that constantly referred to “old time holiness” and the “old paths”. They fought anything that was new. They absolutely detested change. According to them, they knew what “old time religion” was and anything that didn’t look like it was worldly, modern, and newfangled. I have one major problem with their “old time religion” ... IT ISN’T OLD ENOUGH. They don’t go all the way back to the Book of Acts; they merely go back to where they experienced God. In other words, their old paths are simply the churches they grew up in the 50's, 60's, 70's, etc. They hold to that style of worship, singing, fellowship, and preaching as if it is the only way God has ever or will ever move among His people.     

But what about the Bible? The early church didn’t have church buildings, elevated pulpits, pulpit standards, Bible stands, church clothes, pews, etc–those things were introduced by the Catholic church many years later. I suppose those things have their place, but the first Christians had church in their houses, especially when it was too dangerous to go to the Jewish temples. The early church was more consumed with BEING the church than they were building sacred edifices and adhering to staunch ritualism. They were more consumed with spreading the name of Jesus than they were creating an organized religion. The only things that were sacred to them was God, His Spirit, His Word, and the name of Jesus!

Just for a side note: They had some of these grieving old men among them, too. There were those that couldn’t enjoy what Jesus was doing in the world because they wanted everyone to be circumcised and quit eating pork chops. Thankfully, the elders were able to correct them and they were able to build together (Acts 15). For me ... that’s “old time religion”.

I want to be careful here because there are some aspects of my early church days that I miss. The people’s dedication to God’s house and their hunger for holiness of heart was beautiful. I have seen God move mightily in my life. I remember preaching a seven week revival where over a hundred people gave their lives to Christ. It was glorious. It was there that God truly revealed Jesus to me. I suppose I could hang my hat there and spend the rest of my life grieving because today’s church world doesn’t look like that, but the truth is I don’t want a church that looks like that. It was eat up with false doctrine and false prophecy. The Spirit and miracles He performed were sacred, but the songs the people sang, style of worship, ignorance of the Bible, and dislike for teaching was not. I was ultimately kicked out of that church because I preached Jesus’ blood is sufficient to save. It was a glorious time, but I’m not staying there. GOD MET ME IN A STRANGE PLACE, BUT HE HAD TO ... THAT’S WHERE I WAS.

Now, I’m somewhat confused about those elder men that refused to rejoice with the younger men. It was actually their fault Solomon’s temple was destroyed in the first place. God removed His favor from them because of THEIR SINS.

DEAR ANCIENT MEN AND WOMEN ... It’s hypocritical to destroy the church and then pout when the younger men start rebuilding it. And you need to remember that ... NOT EVERYONE HAS YOUR EXPERIENCES!


The younger men that rebuilt the temple did not remember the first temple. They had no idea of what it had looked like or of the glory that had been in it. All they remembered was a life of captivity and bondage in a foreign land. No doubt many of these people had been born during the time of Israel’s captivity and all they could remember was their slavery. I believe they also remembered how God in His power had delivered them from that bondage. They could not remember the first temple, but they were thankful for what they had!

THEY WERE THANKFUL FOR THE GIFTS OF THE PRESENT!

Ezr 3:11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

 
These young people could not remember the old days, but they could see that a new day of opportunity had dawned for them and they embraced it wholeheartedly! These young people had no frame of reference concerning the old days, but they were excited about what God was doing in their day.


The young people were singing while the older people were grieving. The younger people were praising the Lord while the older people were weeping. The younger people were giving God thanks for His goodness and mercy while the older people were pouting. They were sulled up because the young men weren’t doing like they had done it in the past. If that’s not selfish I don’t know what is.

They may not have had the resources King David and Solomon had, but they were bound and determined to do the best with what they had. While the older men were overcome by the GHOSTS OF THE PAST, the younger men were thankful for the GIFTS OF THE PRESENT. While the old men wept over what was, the young men built! While the old men reminisced, the young men worked for God.

I’d like to encourage the younger men and women to be respectful to the ancient men and women that simply cannot overcome their fixation on the past. Their motives may be sincere. They may not be able to separate the God that moved in their churches from the culture in which He moved in. When they attack you for doing something new and when they dogmatically fight to hold on to what was, they truly believe they are fighting God’s battle. Pray for them. Love them. Treat them with respect. You’ll probably feel the same way as they do in few years. The music you like today will be outdated tomorrow. You may not like tomorrow's music either. Our elders are allowed to like whatever music they want. They're allowed to have any type of preference they want. What's that to you?
 

I’d like to encourage the ancient men and women to be careful with how you handle this younger generation. They watch you. They hear your snide remarks. They notice when you don’t support them. They can’t understand why you won’t worship with them. They think you don’t care about them. They feel like you don’t want them in your church. They may like a different type of Christian music than you ... so what? Stand up and sing with them. At the very least stand up and support them. Pray with them. Worship with them. They live in a technologically advanced society; it’s how they learn; it’s how they relate. Get used to it. Stop accusing them of not reverencing the house of God because they’re not wearing “church clothes”. They may not adhere to your style of church clothes, but that doesn’t mean they’re not dressing up. They may not line up to your pet peeves and pious preferences, but you should be celebrating what God’s doing in their life. You're attitude could make or break them. If you break them, I promise you it'll follow you into judgment (1Ti 5:24).

Young men and women ... God will send you some older, seasoned Joshua(s) and Caleb(s) to give you wisdom. Listen  to them. Learn from them. You'll know who they are when they come along. They may not be able to keep up with you, but they will want to. They may not understand everything you're doing, but they will try. They may not like the style of music you're singing, but they'll be glad you're serving God and singing out to Him because they like you.

But regardless ... don’t ever allow sulking, weeping traditionalists stop you from building the kingdom of God in your day! Keep rejoicing. Keep praising God for what He’s done for you. Serve God in your generation. Reach your world regardless of what anyone says. If you have to, shout so loud that it overrides the negativity of those that want you to stop! You are called to reach this world. If you don't, those that are standing in the corner crying about what was sure aren't going to!

Peace. Love. Hope. 
David Lamb