Daily Archives: December 31, 2017
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” [John 2:19]
We call it the Church. This word is from the Greek word Ekklesia. The Hebrew word is Qahal. It refers to the entire worldwide congregation of the Lord Jesus. Relationally, it is a spiritual community composed of all believers working together. It was known in the beginning as “The Community of the Called-Out Ones.” It has never referred to a single denomination though some have appropriated the title.
The Church is not a building. Though we call them “churches” today that was not the case in the beginning. In fact, there were no official church buildings for THREE CENTURIES. The early believers met almost exclusively in private homes. They did not “go to church” in order to “have church.” Real Christians ARE the Church.
The best chance the enemy had at destroying the Church was destroying the Lord. If God’s enemies could manage to kill Him before He did any more damage to their kingdom they would succeed at eliminating the possibility of the Lord’s movement reaching the powerful spiritual level it was blessed with at Pentecost. The devil knew he could never allow that to happen or he would lose it all.
So the Lord had to be destroyed. They tried it several times, even at the beginning of His ministry at Nazareth, but continued to be woefully unsuccessful. No matter how hard they tried they couldn’t get Him.
They claimed He was a liar, a false prophet, and certainly a false messiah. They said He was demon-possessed. They insisted He was crazy, something even His own family considered. They also said He was a drunk and a glutton. Imagine that. After a forty-day fast? Those idiots did everything they possibly could do destroy Him and His reputation. They attempted to destroy His good Name. Many were convinced by their lies.
But those who felt compelled to believe in Him were never convinced by such falsehoods. They knew all of these false pronouncements were lies. They knew the Lord’s enemies must lie about Him and slander Him in an attempt to destroy Him so they could save their own lives and their own reputations. They had previously succeeded in convincing almost everybody that they were right, that they were legitimate, that they were in religious control legally and by divine right. This meant the entire temple complex. It meant every synagogue. The bad guys had taken control of the entire operation.
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” [Luke 16:13-15]
They dressed very well for the part. They did anything they could to look like holy men, to look like men separated out by God for His purposes, and claimed exclusive religious authority over the people. They created a higher caste in which they deemed themselves the only worthwhile members. They relegated everyone else—the 99%—to the lowest of the low and thereby created another class, one of voiceless nobodies with no authority, and denied them a proper spiritual education, allowing them to be taught only the false doctrines and dogmas of their exclusive club. Whoever dissented was made to pay. They even violated the Law of Moses by creating their own unwritten interpretation that eventually gained more prominence than the Law itself.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” [Matthew 23:23-28]
When the time came for the Lord to lay down His life and fulfill His calling as the Sacrifice Lamb to buy back our freedom and rescue us from sin and death, His enemies pounced. They worked very hard for that opportunity. They could hardly believe their good fortune. They had lied about Him repeatedly and did everything they could and it finally paid off. All of their filth and innuendo and slimy lies and slander and libel finally came to fruition.
When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” [Matthew 27:24-25]
After the Lord had already been beaten up to an inch of His life and was hanging on the cross those people still were not through. They had to keep pounding away verbally to get in as many shots as they could before He died.
Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him. [Mark 15:29-32]
We all know the rest of the story. The Lord died. They killed Him. They released as much of their hate and vitriol as they could. For almost three days the Lord’s reputation was completely destroyed. He was just one more false prophet who met His fate. All the great things He had done in His ministry were largely forgotten. Even His own close disciples huddled in fear, knowing they could very well be next. There was no solution for this incredible miscarriage of justice. All was lost.
Then the Lord Jesus did the impossible. HE ACTUALLY RAISED HIMSELF FROM THE DEAD JUST LIKE HE SAID HE WOULD.
They did indeed destroy the Temple. The enemies of the Lord were exulting in their great success. They had eliminated the threat to their wicked and despicable kingdom. And yet, forty years later they were the ones who were destroyed forever.
“For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” [Luke 19:43-44]
And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” [Luke 21:5-6]
Though they killed the Lord and killed a great many of His followers in the first major persecution wave of the early Church, He didn’t stay dead and all of His followers gained eternal life. But Jerusalem was destroyed. The temple was destroyed. Those evil people were all put out of business. And every single one of the Lord’s people thrived. No matter what anyone tried to do to them they kept going. They kept preaching. They kept teaching. They kept loving. They often suffered greatly but then just got right back up again and kept on going. They would never stop unless they were killed. Nothing anyone tried worked. If they died they went to heaven. If they stayed alive they kept doing the work of the Lord. They pulled together. They worked together. They loved each other. THEY EVANGELIZED THE ENTIRE ROMAN EMPIRE AND THEN WENT TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.
The lesson to be learned here is that if you are a real Christian you will certainly have enemies who will hate you and want to take you out. It all depends on the effect you are having upon those enemies. If you are a Christian in love with the world you will be safe, of course, but friendship with the world is enmity with God. Here is an example of the proper attitude of real Christians:
But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. [Acts 5:34-42]
There is a Great Awakening coming to America. Christians are waking up. Many have been bound by religious garbage. But so many of you reading this know exactly what I am talking about. You have been attacked in the past and have been trying to recover ever since. Some of you have suffered greatly and wonder if you will ever regain the fight and spiritual vitality you once possessed. It appears as though the enemy has gained the victory and even that the Lord doesn’t much care. These are all lies. The enemy will get his. Here is my advice:
Even if you have not suffered so much but know you are not operating at top speed and full strength, you must allow the Lord to raise you back up by raising yourself up. I am not referring to some lame self-help stuff. This is a purely spiritual situation. The Lord has called each of his children to go work in the fields and no one else can do your job. You must take the time right now to begin reevaluating everything and determine to return to full strength in this coming new year. I will close with this:
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. [Isaiah 40:28-31]
The Hebrew word for “wait” in this passage is qavah. It means to not just wait passively but to wait patiently, eagerly, hopefully, and expectantly. It is an active word connoting being filled to the brim in faithful anticipation of what the Lord is going to do, namely, that He will provide NEW STRENGTH and ENERGY and POWER and will overcome all of one’s weariness and tiredness, and by implication even lethargy. Then one will RUN without getting tired and WALK without getting weary. This waiting eagerly for the Lord will allow one to receive strength enough to run a spiritual Ironman Triathlon! So we must not just sit around waiting in a static sense but wait dynamically and actively and with great faith. The waiting itself is waiting in strength which we provide in anticipation of the Lord’s providence of GREAT STRENGTH that only He can provide. It could be that the more we put into the waiting, the greater the Lord’s providence will be!
Don’t ever forget that real Christianity demands impossible victories. In the Lord’s case they threw everything they had at Him and even killed Him but it did no good. They still lost. They were the biggest losers this world has ever known and so are those who attack the Lord today and His people. Such attackers are losers, and unless they repent they will prove it eternally by losing their souls. Don’t let them stop you, especially those wolves in places of authority dressed like sheep.
Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to WAIT for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” [Acts 1:4-5] 
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.