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Thursday, 1 March 2018

A word from heaven!

In my personal devotions, I am currently reading in the Old Testament book of Ezra. This morning I read the fifth chapter and, in the opening verses, read these words: "Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechari′ah 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 Zerub′babel the son of She-al′ti-el and Jeshua the son of Jo′zadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and with them were the prophets of God, helping them." (Ezra 5:1-2).



It was those simple words: "... in the name of the God of Israel Who was over them." that jumped out at me. To give a brief background note Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire, had conquered the Babylonians and, in fulfilment of the 200-year-old prophecy of Isaiah, he released the Jews who had been taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar; instructed them to rebuild the Temple that Nebuchadnezzar had had destroyed; and even returned the Temple vessels that had also been taken to Babylon. [On a side note, it is interesting that Persia is the country that, since the overthrow of the Shah (ruler) in 1979, and the installation of the Islamic Ayatollah Khomeini, has been known as the Islamic Republic of Iran - Israel's sworn enemy! One wonders how many Iranian Muslims are aware that it was the founder of their nation who ordered that the Temple in Jerusalem be rebuilt, and even gave a grant towards the cost of doing so!] However, any attempt to build and establish something for God will soon attract the attention of the enemy, and it didn't take long for a group of Gentiles to commence a campaign of harassment and opposition that, eventually, led to the abandonment of the work. A new king has ascended the Persian throne, and the opposition took this opportunity to write to him, in the most fawning of terminology, requesting that he demand that this work be terminated. This he did!


Some sixteen years later, the Lord sent two prophets - Haggai and Zechariah - to call the people to renewed commitment and faith. They quickly roused the Jews into action, inspiring their flagging spirits, and reinforcing them with renewed strength and dedication. That is what I was reading earlier. In spite of the fact that an official veto on the work remained in force, they recommence the building project, realising that, although an earthly king has forbidden them to do so, the heavenly King has now spoken - they have heard a word from heaven!

Mike Spence, the Vice-President of the United States of America at this time, was recently criticised, and mocked, for claiming that the Lord speaks to him. Yet is not this what the Church today needs more than anything else? All of our fancy planning, and courses, are as nothing if we are not hearing from the Lord. The sounding forth of the true prophetic voice is, surely, one of the greatest needs of the hour. These words, written almost forty years ago, are increasingly relevant: "For too long we have listened solely to the voices of the politicians, the statesmen, the scientists, and others who shape and mould today's society. We need now, more than anything to hear again a word form heaven. We need to hear the voice of God."

Of course, if the Lord is to speak, we must take the time to listen. Yet how many, who would claim to be disciples of the Lord Jesus, spend little or no time reading the Word, and in prayer? One day, each one of us will stand before the judgement throne of Almighty God. Those of us who are "in Christ" and who are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, are already acquitted at that throne. However, we then have to face the judgement seat of the Lord Jesus, and answer to Him for what we have done with our lives since we yielded them to Him. That's a sobering thought!

The old song has the refrain "By and by, when I look on His face; I'll wish I had given Him more." May we give Him more, now. It will be for our good, and to His glory. Listen for that word from heaven. It could be directed towards you"

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