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Again the word of the Lord Almighty came to me.  This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her.” This is what the Lord says:  “I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem.  Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.” This is what the Lord Almighty says:  “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with cane in hand because of his age.  The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.” This is what the Lord Almighty says:  “It may seem marvellous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvellous to Me?” declares the Lord Almighty.

This is a part of the word given to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah the son of Iddo in the eighth month of the second year of Darius, that is, two months after Haggai received the word from the Lord, “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.’ Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your panelled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

These were words of the Lord to the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem from the exile and had now lived in Jerusalem long enough to have built houses that were of a quality to have ‘panels’, yet the temple was unfinished.  They had returned under the rule of Cyrus, but now were under Darius.  The temple that was started remained unfinished.  Speaking of the prosperity of Jerusalem, the Lord asked Zechariah, who would later be killed between the temple and the altar, one of the most poignant questions in the Bible, “…but will it seem marvellous to Me?” Yes, God will bless and has blessed, and it seems marvellous to us.  Now stop for a moment and consider… does it seem marvellous to God?  To know that answer, you, elect, will need to have the mind of Christ, that is, to know what Jesus has in mind.

Now consider the church that has been raised in the last two millenniums.  It may seem marvellous to us, but have we ever asked this question:  “But will it seem marvellous to God?”?  Just because God blesses and prospers and it seems marvellous to us… learn to remember it may not seem marvellous to Jesus.

For what did Jesus come to do?  What was in His mind?  What did He suffer and die for, elect, in all its totality?  To save the lost?  To save the world?  For sinners to repent?

Consider this, elect, it was to one man Jesus revealed that “…God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son… to save the world…” – to Nicodemus.  But whenever He could, He spoke of the Father and about the kingdom of His Father, the Kingdom of God.  After His resurrection, Luke told us:  He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the Kingdom of God. As such, it is not only to save the world and to seek that which was lost that He came.  No, the salvation was the beginning, the start of the work, but the revelation of God the Father was the second phase to those who were saved because they had believed.  Then through those who accepted His revelation of the Father, Jesus would impart to them the Kingdom of God so that it would be within them and among them.  So the threefold work of Jesus is salvation of the lost, revelation of the Father, and then impartation of the kingdom, the kingdom that would manifest and be established by the disciples who had believed in Him, who had accepted His revelation of the Father, and who had received the impartation of the Kingdom of God into them.  That is why He spoke first of the salvation to Nicodemus, then about the Father, and then began to preach, “The Kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!”

As such, the church that Jesus Christ has in mind must likewise offer that salvation and revelation, but more importantly, impart the Kingdom of God to its members so that not only is the Kingdom of God within them, but it is among them… the kingdom of power, joy, peace, righteousness, eating, drinking and talking.  It is to be set apart from all the other kingdoms of the Earth by its power.  For this reason, Jesus’ last recorded words to His disciples were, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” In the prayer He taught us, His disciples, it begins with a reminder of the revelation and the purpose of the impartation, ” ‘Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done…’ “

As such, elect, the church may have grown and prospered so that, like Jerusalem, there may be old men sitting with canes in their hands and children playing in our halls and cathedrals… there may be worship and sermons and social programmes to help the poor, and pictures and statues everywhere to remind all who come of Jesus, His life, His sacrifice and His disciples… and it all seems marvellous to us… but does it seem marvellous to Him?  For the Kingdom of God is not the kingdom of talking but of power, and not of eating and drinking but of joy, peace and righteousness as Paul reminded the church in his letters… but what sort of joy, peace and righteousness, elect?

To those who so value the ‘fruits’ of the Spirit above the gifts of the Spirit… yes, joy, peace and righteousness are the fruits.  Is it the joy of children receiving a Christmas present that Paul spoke of?  Is it the joy of a blind man receiving a guide dog, or a lame man his crutches, or a deaf man his hearing aid?  Is it the joy of men and women receiving the job, the house and the car they have prayed for?  Or is it the joy of a child receiving his dead parents back, the blind man receiving his sight, the lame running on his legs, the deaf hearing with his own ears, and the mute shouting praises to God with his voice and not with hand signs?  It is wonderful to see a sign language specialist translating the sermon to the deaf, but it is far better if the sermoniser could back up his sermon by causing the deaf to hear first before he spoke.

Is it the artificial peace of a thick walled building that locks out the noisy world so that we can contemplate the greatness of God behind bulletproof glass and bodyguards?  Or is it the peace that comes because the armies of our enemies are blinded and their weapons are turned to nothing, gunpowder to sawdust, plutonium to lead, like Jesus turned water to good wine?  Is it not the peace when enemies are turned to our friends because of the worldly wealth we have used to gain them as Jesus said?

As for the righteousness, is it the self-righteousness of holier than thou bullies who use the Name of the Lord to murder, pillage and loot the heathens if they do not convert so that their gold can adorn the altar and their children can serve as slaves in our households?  Is it the righteousness of the might of papal armies levelling cities that have not agreed with their doctrines?  Or is it the righteousness of sinners in repentance marvelling at the grace of God who said to a woman caught in adultery, “Has no one condemned you? … Then neither do I condemn you.”

One could say more about the eating, drinking and talking that exist now in the churches and highlight its shortfall.  However, a much better subject would be to speak of the eating that would be happening as the food is multiplied amongst the starving children and refugees around the world if only we could multiply the food like Jesus did.  And the drinking amongst those who have no clean water as the dirty waters of the floods are changed to sparkling clear water… or the drinking amongst the drought victims as water gushes from the rocks, just like the wedding guests drank and enjoyed the good wine at Cana when Jesus changed water to good wine.  And the talking… instead of backbiting, the complaining, the gossip… imagine that those who are in the church talked like the blind men whom Jesus healed did or the parents of the little girl whom Jesus raised did even though they were commanded not to.

So do we see this or hear this in the churches that bear the Name of Jesus Christ, elect?  For all that seems marvellous to our eyes, does it all seem marvellous to God when the church that They had in mind was never raised?

Had David lived to see the temple Solomon raised for him… would it have seemed marvellous in David’s eyes?

So what is missing, elect?  Is it not the power?  The miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, one of His gifts, which those who value the fruits scorn as if it is unholy – the power of signs, wonders and miracles that confirms the word of the Lord.

The truth is this:  When the word of the Lord is not preached, the Holy Spirit need not confirm.  So when the sermonisers come forth with their marvellous speculations and wisdom about God and society, the Holy Spirit is not at all obliged to confirm it.  It is only when the preachers repent and as the prince of preachers said, “Hold to that old and holy gospel,” will you see the Holy Spirit confirm with signs accompanying.

However, it was not only the Holy Spirit Jesus said would be His witness, but also all disciples… that we too are to be His witnesses.  Of course if there are no disciples in the church, then there can be no witnesses, for believers cannot testify.  A witness, as I would remind you, does not share what he believes but testifies to what he knows, what he has seen, heard and done.

The challenge then, elect, is not to raise up what seems marvellous in our eyes, but to raise up what is marvellous in God’s eyes.  It is not a church as we see it now, but rather, a fellowship that bears witness to the good news of the salvation of the lost and the revelation of the Father that Jesus gave, as well as the manifestation of the Kingdom of God that He imparted in their midst, so that all who come would see, hear, taste and experience what joy, peace, righteousness, eating, drinking and talking are to be like when the power of God is present.

The church without the presence of God’s power is like a car without a battery… and we are like a society that has never seen what a car can do if it has power, but have lived with cars that are drawn by horses or pushed by people, and have made rules concerning how a car may be drawn or pushed.

It is your duty, each and everyone individually, to restore the power that Jesus gave us to the church.  First by becoming one who not only trusts God but can be trusted by God.  How do you know someone is trusted by God?  By the amount of miraculous power he is given.  You see, even the false prophet is trusted by God… trusted to be completely rebellious as to fulfil the scriptures so that Jesus can return as it is written.

…blessed is the man who trusts in You. If the man who trusts in God is blessed, then what is done for the man whom God trusts?  Would he not be raised to the fullness of the salvation of Christ?  For after all, who is the Man whom God trusts but Jesus Christ, His Son whom He has chosen, for why else would God have said to His disciples, “Listen to Him”?

So ask if you dare, church, “Does this seem marvellous to You, O Lord?” and brace yourself like Job, for God is about to speak out of His storm.

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