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God’s Call to Revival
God’s Prophetic Revelations
*** Watch: https://youtu.be/RvyzjObDB6g
Last week we looked at the return of the Jews to God’s Promised Land under the leadership of Ezra, along with Zerubbabel, and Jeshua. They just finished 70 years of Babylonian captivity, and what we looked at in the book of Ezra was God’s Call to revival for them and for us. The seven aspects of this return and revival were their need to …
• Leave Familiar Ground
• Identify Priorities
• Move to a Greater Level of Faith
• Lay a Strong Foundation
• Understand Spiritual Warfare,
• Listen to God’s Prophetic Revelation
Now, we ended last week where I would like to pick up today; and that is in the prophetic word God used to stir up the hearts of the people to complete the work God had given them to rebuild the temple.
“The prophet Haggai and Zechariah…prophesied…So (they) rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem” (Ezra 5:1-2 NKJV)
These words spoken by Haggai and Zechariah are found in the books written by them and recorded for us in the Old Testament. But before look at them, I’d like to share a quote that outlines how this great work was accomplished.
“The will of God will never take us where the grace of God will not protect us.”
God will always make a way, as we shall see in our time together.
The first prophetic word comes from the prophet Haggai. As we read these words it’s good to keep in mind that this was the first time God had spoken to the Jews since their return from Babylon. It’s the first time God’s voice had been heard in Judea since the days of Jeremiah, which goes along with his prophecy given by God that we looked at last week.
“If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me.” (Jeremiah 15:19a NLT)
And so God had to stir up their hearts so that they would return and serve Him.
Let’s take a look then at what God told them that stirred them to action.
1. Quit Offering Excuses
In other words, we have to stop all the excuses we’re using for not following and serving the Lord.
“Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, ‘The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.’” (Haggai 1:2 NKJV)
Now there is something extremely disturbing in this passage. Notice how the Lord begins. He calls them “This people.” I find this disturbing because God always referred to the Jewish people as “His people,” but never in such a distant form as “This people.”
There seems to exist a gap with these words that should make us all sit up and pay attention. It was a gap between the way they were living and the way God’s word tells them to live, and because of this, they were using God’s word to excuse their actions for not building the temple.
How this speaks to us!
The other part of this prophetic word is that we live in a society where people no longer take responsibility for their actions. We live in a society of excuse makers. In our victimization culture it’s always someone else’s fault. It’s the government’s fault, it’s our parent’s fault, or it’s the school or teacher’s fault. It’s the fault of Hollywood, guns, co-workers, spouse, and the list just keeps going.
I found these excuses made to insurance companies quite amusing.
• In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.
• The guy was all over the road! I had to swerve several times before I hit him.
• I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment.
• The telephone poll was approaching fast. I attempted to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end.
• The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran him over.
While these are rather silly, there are some excuses we give God as to why we won’t follow Him and His word.
I’ll do it Later – Telling God later is the same thing as telling God “no,” and later may also be too late for the good God intended when He said it.
It’s too Difficult – If this is what we believe then we should consider these verses. “When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
I’m too Busy – Nothing is more important than God’s calling. By saying we’re too busy we’re putting our agenda in front of God’s.
God let me Down – We rationalize that since God didn’t come through when we wanted or needed him too, then why should we do what He asks?
There are plenty of more excuses besides these, like “It won’t hurt anything if I just…” or “No one will ever find out,” or “I’ll just do it this one time,” or “At least I’m not as bad as…” or everyone’s number one excuse is, “Everyone else is doing it, besides God will forgive me.”
It’s amazing how quick we are to find excuses or blame God when we haven’t done what He has asked. The truth, therefore, is that the fault is all our own, and so we need to own up to it, and that is done through confession and repentance.
The exiles had more than enough time to rebuild the temple, but instead they made excuses. Consider what it says in Proverbs. This is classic.
“The lazy person claims, ‘There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!’” (Proverbs 22:13 NLT)
Now imagine our boss saying, “Have you looked out the window to see?”
Benjamin Franklin said, “The person who is good at excuse-making is seldom good at anything else.”
God’s prophetic word to us is to stop making excuses and start fulfilling God’s calling if we want to see revival in our lives, in our homes, in our church, and in our nation.
The second thing we see in Haggai goes back to our second point last week, where I said that we have to start identifying our priorities. But the context was making sure that our priorities lined up with God’s word, or better, we need to make God’s priorities our own.
2. Stop Setting Our Own Priorities
We have to stop setting our own priorities and start following God’s priorities.
Through Haggai, the Lord said, “‘Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?’ Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” (Haggai 1:3-6 NKJV)
What we just looked at was God’s response to their excuses. The spiritual condition of people’s hearts can directly be gauged by their attitude towards God’s call and their working on God’s house. And while we’re talking about the physical temple, this applies to all believers because when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we become the temple of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit.
And so the building of the temple was and still is a barometer of the people’s spiritual condition.
Now, in this passage the Lord reveals the hypocrisy of their excuse, because while they said now wasn’t a good time to build God’s house, they did have enough time to build their own nice paneled homes. The word “paneled” refers to an overlay of some sort on the inside walls adding some measure of comfort.
Now, as we contemplate these words, let’s contemplate something else. What happened to all the wood that was cut and that was sitting for those 16 years when the work was stopped? Did the wood end up rotting, or did the people use it to build their own homes. Either answer is bad and shows negligence and contempt for the house of God.
And so the Lord says, “Consider Your Ways.”
In other words give careful thought to what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. As God’s people we need to examine our hearts and search out the direction that we’re moving in. And if God’s will and ways are not number one, then we’ve fallen into idolatry, which is putting any idea, person, goal, or commitment on par with or above God.
And so the Lord asks these pertinent questions that need to be answered, “Are you sowing more but harvesting less?” “Are you eating and drinking more but not satisfied?” Are you wearing more cloths but still cold?” “Are you earning more but making less.”
Basically no one can cheat God and get away with it, or as I like to say, “We cannot con God.” So God calls us to make His ways and goals our own, and to place them in front of everything and anything else we may have going on in life.
Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV)
And so a prophetic word is needed to encourage God’s people to accomplish His work, and God does so by shaking them up and reminding them of the divine resource that’s available.
We find this divine resource through what the Lord brought out through the prophet Zechariah. And this prophetic word of God’s divine resource is
3. God’s Work is Accomplished Through The Holy Spirit
An angel woke up Zachariah and asked, “‘What do you see?’ So I said, ‘I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left.’” (Zechariah 4:1-3 NKJV)
When asked what this meant, Zechariah admitted he had no idea, and so the Lord said,
“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6 NKJV)
God needs to wake us up. Notice, the angel had to wake Zechariah up to give him this message. It would seem that Zechariah had fallen asleep or into some sort of deep slumber, or even a sort of lethargic state, kind of like many of God’s people today.
Now, the reason may be because of the discouragement we are going through over the many delays God calls us to persevere through. What happens is that we become somewhat lethargic when it comes to the things of God, that is, God’s word and calling.
And so, the Holy Spirit has to wake us up and shake us out of our spiritual slumber, and our being lukewarm.
The angel then asks Zechariah what he saw, which is what the Lord is asking today.
What is the vision God has put in our hearts? What is that prophetic word God has spoken over our lives? Is it a vision of Almighty God? Is it a calling that is beyond our own ability and capability to fulfill? Or is it our own vision with limitations and difficulties?
A vision from God is something that is beyond ourselves, beyond our own abilities, which is why we need the divine resources of the Holy Spirit. And our vision dictates our lives in Christ. Vision, in this instance, is the God given ability to catch a glimpse of what God wants to do in and through our lives.
To Zerubbabel and Jeshua the vision was for them to be conduits to bless God’s people. Look at what the angel said in verse 14.
“These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.” (Zechariah 4:14 NKJV)
“Anointed ones” literally means, “Sons of oil.” They were set apart by God to be God’s representatives to the people pouring out His blessings.
As I look at this I see part of God’s call for each one of us. That we would be those conduits of the Holy Spirit reaching out and blessing all we come in contact with, beginning with the good news of Jesus Christ.
If I were to capsulize this, I’d say that when we rely upon our own power to accomplish these God given tasks, without the supply of the Holy Spirit, then we’ll just burn out.
Let me give you a keeper statement that helps explain this whole point.
God’s work done Gods’ way will never lack God’s provision or power.
The Lord emphasizes this in verse 7 when He said, “Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!” (Zechariah 4:7a NKJV)
When we set out into God’s calling, mountains of resistance will rise up, like what happened to the Jews once they returned and the obstacles they faced not only in rebuilding the temple, but the wall as well.
But when we get verse six deep down in our souls and spirits, that is, our accomplishments are and can never be through our power and might, but rather they can only happen in and through the Holy Spirit, that is when these mountains will come down.
The last prophetic insight is…
4 Don’t Despise Small Things
“For who has despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10a NKJV)
This is what we see also happening for the Israelites when they left their Egyptian captivity and were on their way to possess the Promised Land.
The Lord said, “Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land.” (Exodus 23:30 NKJV)
The Lord said He would send His fear before them to cause the enemy confusion. This wasn’t to produce a mass exodus, but a slow one, and the reason is because immediate vacation of the land would do more harm than good, because the Israelites couldn’t possess it all at one time.
God’s desire is to revive us today. And while God can blow our socks off by rending the heavens and coming down in instantaneous revival, He usually does it through small steps.
The reason God gives a little bit at a time is because we’re incapable of inheriting it fully. So He gives it little by little so we can grow and increase until God makes the next piece available.
Therefore, let’s not despise the small things or small beginnings. These are preparations for something greater God has in store. Jesus said that those who are faithful over the few or little things will be ruler over many (Matthew 25:23).
And so the message is clear in God’s call to revival.
We need to stop making excuses and start giving careful thought to our ways. We need to set our priorities in accordance with God’s word and not in accordance to the dictates of our hearts.
We also need to give it all over to God knowing that it’s not in our own power and abilities, but rather it’s through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us and through us that we’ll accomplish God’s plans and purposes.
Basically it’s this. We need to get revitalized by getting back to God’s priorities through a new and fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. We need to be those sons and daughters of oil, and anointed of the Holy Spirit to be those conduits of Gods’ grace and mercy to this lost and dying world.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study