Summary: Let us dedicate ourselves to building the Hose of the Lord, this new year
New Beginnings – Building the House of God
This is the last Sunday of January. Many of us have forgotten the New Year promise card, though Pastor tries to remind us every week. Most of us would have already forgotten about our New Year resolutions. But the fact is that we are still in the beginning of a brand new year. So I wanted to focus our meditations around that theme.
All of us know that our God is a God of New beginnings. We might have heard many sermons on that topic. Let us remind ourselves about this fact first.
There are many new beginnings in the Bible. Let us look at a few of them. Many of them are found in the book of Genesis itself. The Creation: Genesis 1: 26-31, being the very first one. The Triune God were “having a ball” creating the universe, and all the living creatures, having fun and fellowship with each other, when they decided to create man in “their” image. Vs 27 repeats the fact that Man and Woman were created in His image. However, after the Fall, earth became a place far from the perfect paradise that God intended it to be. Humanity forgot God frighteningly fast. But one man remained faithful to God (Gen 6:22) and God decided to redeem mankind through that one man, Noah (Genesis 8:1 and Genesis 8:15-22). This was a new beginning all over again. This was just one of the countless times that God showed His love and patience to Mankind in order to save him.
Despite God’s swift judgment of sin, most people ignored him and continued to sin. But a handful of people remained faithful to God, and one such person was Abraham. Genesis 15:6 and Hebrews 11:8-12 testify this. God made an all new beginning through that faithful man (Genesis 12:1-3 and Genesis 17:1-8). And then after 400 long years of slavery and suffering, the Hebrews cry out to the Lord and the Lord decides to set them free from slavery. He said “I am concerned about their suffering” and hence chose an unwilling leader to lead them out of the land of slavery to a land flowing with milk and honey, and give them a new beginning (Exodus 3:7-14).
Further into the history, we see that despite God’s explicit warnings about what a king might do, the Israelites insist on a king and the Lord “gives in” to their wishes. However, God continues to be concerned about His people and soon rejects the first King, in Saul and then anoints David as the future King and thus gives Israel a whole new beginning again (1 Samuel 8:7-9, 1 Samuel 16:1-7).
Another new beginning is the Return of the Exiles: (Ezra 1:2-4, Haggai 2:6-9 and Zechariah 9:9-11) . We have to get into a little bit of history here. It was in 538 BC that the King Cyrus of Persia allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall. This happened exactly after 70 years as prophesied by Isaiah 44:28-45:6. It is believed that Daniel had a role here, and possibly he would have shown Isaiah’s prophesy to King Cyrus. We see Daniel fervently praying for the end of exile in Daniel 9:4-19. After the first group of Jews ( Believed to be around 50000) came back to Jerusalem, they started rebuilding the temple.
So God is a God of new beginnings. He continues to give us multiple chances at life. Even when we disobey him and continue to sin, God forgives us and calls us back. That is God’s attribute. But let me turn the table around. How about us? What do we learn from these new beginnings? What is our response when God gives us an all new beginning in life? Each of the new beginnings given in the old testament has valuable lesson for us. Let me focus on the last one about the return of the exiles to Jerusalem. Let us see what happens in Ezra 3:1-13. The exiles have walked about 4 months to reach Jerusalem. They have left everything they had, and had to make new beginning for their lives, they had to set up residences, they had to find livelihood, they had to settle down, they had so many personal things to see to. But we see them getting started on one thing. They get started on making a new beginning with God. They get started on Building the House of the Lord, the temple. How about you and me? How many new beginnings have the Lord given us? And have we responded by making a new beginning with God? Are we focused on building the House of the Lord, the church? This question is very relevant for BBF today, as we go through a number of trials and tribulations. So let us see what the exiles did while building the House of the Lord. Let us see what we need to do to build the house of the Lord up!! I see three things standing out from this part of the scripture.