“The glory of the latter house shall be greater than that of the former.” (Haggai 2:9).
Apollos had captured our imaginations as he described the Rubble of Zerubbabel in great eloquence. And he stirred our hearts with faith and hope when he then made application of his message to our lives.
“In the old days great stories were written about the lives and lore of an ancient people who were chosen by God to bear His presence and message to the whole world,” Apollos said. “We see and learn in them many great truths for ourselves.
“They were not chosen because they were worthy; neither are we. They had no merits that qualified them to serve and represent God to the world; neither do we. They were stubborn and stiff-necked, disobedient and slow to understand; and so are we.
“But God loved them; and He loves us. He blessed them, and redeemed them. At times He humbled them, and then heard their cries and turned again to save them.
“The one epic story that illustrates this perhaps better than any other is The Return From Captivity, and the Rebuilding of the Temple.
“Seventy long years had passed slowly as the children of the Lord languished in Babylonian Captivity. The last sight they had of the City of the Great King was a fading memory of horror and shame. The armies of Nebuchadnezzar had invaded, ravaged, desecrated, destroyed, and burned much of the Holy City. Billowing plumes of blacken smoke rose high into the hot sky as the oil-coated rocks burned until nothing was left but charred stones covered in greasy dirt.
“The Temple of the Lord had now become the habitation of jackals, snakes, and assorted desert wildlife. And when things looked the most hopeless, God stepped in and wrought a miracle of resurrection.
“The king of the pagan nation in which God’s people were held captive had a change of heart toward God and let His people go. Moreover, he charged them in the name of the Lord to rebuild the Temple and the Holy City, raising it up out of the burnt ruins. And, get this – he provided them all the resources they would need out of his own royal treasury! It was miraculous indeed.
“The people rallied with a renewed faith and set out for the Holy City. They talked excitedly all along the way of their return; each day growing more and more enthusiastic about the job that lay before them.
“But then they saw The City. It was worse than they had imagined; far worse. In fact, it no longer even looked like a city at all. Rather, its appearance was that of a huge pile of disjointed rocks; burnt and covered with years of untouched dirt. The only signs of life were peasants who had established makeshift tent cities, strewn about the colossal debris. And there were the wild animals roaming freely amid the ruins.
The challenge they faced in rebuilding a holy temple from the ruins of toppled debris is not at all different from what we face in seeing our own ruined and ravaged lives redeemed and set right before the Lord today.
Have we not lived in a long captivity to Confusion? Has not the Temple of the Lord been desecrated in our hearts and lives. Haven’t fires burned, and windstorms blown, and dust accumulated on the altars of our devotions to God? And does not a dark and intimidating presence taunt us with our powerlessness to do anything about it?
The word which God gave to Zerubbabel is now given to us. “It’s not by might, it’s not by power; but it is by My Spirit,” says the Lord.
And like those faithful rebuilders of old, we too will lift The Shout of Grace up to heaven. Yes, we will boldly bear witness to the power of Christ at work in our lives, enabling us to be who God created us to be and to do what He has called us to do – right where we are.
“So, my dear friends and fellow-builders, take heart. Whatever obstacle it is that you face, stare it down and shout, “Grace! Grace!” For when you do so, you are actually releasing God’s empowering presence into the circumstance and He will work His wonders of love – redeeming your lives from the rubble of Zerubbabel!”
Then Apollos lifted his hand and spoke this blessing over us, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. (2 Corinthians 13:14).
When Apollos concluded he was joined on stage by all the other speakers. And we all stood and honored them for their faithful service and inspiring words.
Once the series of stimulating Lectures concluded and we all tarried in the lobby, interacting with the speakers and other groups who had also journeyed to this place called Grace. There was a deep sense of privilege in all our hearts for being in this place of Grace together.
“Across the Way from the Great Hall of Truth is Monumental Park,” Paul said. “Let’s all meet there tomorrow. There is going to be a concert you will not want to miss!”