Ezra 1-3, Psalm 46
Growing up in Brooklyn was very different than growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey. Space and grassy fields were at a minimum in Brooklyn. The games played were also different. One game which we frequently played was called Chinese handball. The only requirement was a large wall and cement ground. Where I grew up, this game was played underneath the el or train tracks. One day while playing with around six of my friends at around the age of 7 or 8, a car stopped before us to ask directions. Two men were in the car. I mistakenly walked over by myself to help them. Without notice, the man in the passenger seat reached out and grabbed my arm and started to pull me into the car. Without thinking my young friends acted in unison when they saw what was happening and as one man grabbed around my waist and pulled in the opposite direction. Because of their unified action their force was more than the one man in the car, and I'm alive today. If not I would have been like many of the other children who were never seen again. So many years ago, but I will never forget what they did in their unified, heroic act instead of standing on the sidelines to see how things unfolded. I think of how things have changed. In 2013 a British soldier was beheaded by a terrorist on a busy street in London as the people watched and recorded the event on their cell phones. No one came to the defense of the policeman. There was no unified response.
We read in Ezra 3:1-3, "And when the seventh month had come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem. Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brethren, arose and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. Though fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries, they set the altar on its bases; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord,...". Realize the remnant that returned to Judah after 70 years of Babylonian captivity was only around 50,000 people, which represented only around 2.5% percent of the total number of Jewish people in Babylon at that time. They acted in unison to show their devotion to God though greatly outnumbered by the surrounding nations and being out in the open with no walls to protect them. In Acts 2, when the disciples were joined together in one accord, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them at Pentacost. Jesus said in Matthew 12:25, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand." What they did from a strategical standpoint, building the altar before building the temple or the walls made no practical sense. But they adhered to a principle which was stated so beautifully by Jesus years later in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
There are many reasons why revival is missing from our nation. One is that so many are now ignorant to God's Word and are Biblically illiterate. Without a foundation in which to stand we tend to stand on nothing. This is one of the major reasons for the One Year Bible challenge, to fortify Christians with God's Word on a daily basis. Secondly, with many Christians disgruntled over the denominations or churches they were raised in and the availability of the internet, we have many stay-at-home Christians. But there is no church if we all stay at home. We all need each other, there are no unimportant members in the body of Christ. In chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians, Paul gives a wonderful example of comparing the body of Christ, the church, to a human body. In this example he illustrates that every member is important whether that member is represented by the eye or the hand. They are all necessary for the proper function of the body. How many gifts are not being used because of the reluctance of Christians to get involved. How many Christians avoid openly showing their faith, by saying grace out in public or praying openly, for fear of what others might think rather than caring what God thinks. I am forever thankful that my 7-8 year old friends acted in one accord to save my young life from a would be abductor. We must all ask ourselves, are we as adults unwilling to do what my young friends were willing to do? Our nation is in desperate need of revival, and just as in the early meeting of disciples in Acts 2, this will only occur now if we unite as one body and boldly stand together under the banner of Jesus Christ, without fear of what others might think or do.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: