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in Ezra, the temple was rebuilt, and its rites recommenced.
How does this agree with the Jews saying that their temple had taken forty-six years to rebuild ? (John ii. 20.) This must have been some hundreds of years before that time.
Yes; it was begun to be rebuilt under Zerubbabel, about B.c. 519. After that it was plundered several times, until Herod began to rebuild and decorate it about B.c. 20. It was this rebuilding that the Jews referred to. But we must not wander too far from our subject. How do we know that God still recognised the temple as His in the time of our Lord ? [No one knows.]
What did Christ say to the money-changers when He drove them out of the temple ? Turn to Matthew xxi. 13. 66 And he said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves."
And in verse 12 it is said that Jesus went into the temple of God.” So that we are sure that up to that time God recognised the temple as His. So also the service was His. Turn to Luke i. Verse 6 says that Zacharias and his wife were both righteous before God,” walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless. Verse 8 says that he “ executed the priest's office before God.” From this we see that God still owned the temple and the service. Now did this help the people in any way to receive Christ? Were the priests for instance the first to receive and welcome Christ?
No; they were opposed to him.
Then do you not see that the mere observing the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish religion did not prepare
them to receive Christ? On the con
trary, they refused Christ and went on with their service without Him. And it shews us a very solemn picture of men being very religious without Christ. Therefore, because of their rejection He was compelled to leave His own house, and in Matthew xxiii. 38, He says, “ Behold your house is left unto you desolate.” He would not own it any longer as His. Three verses further on He foretells the destruction of the temple, so that one stone should not remain
another. But may not this have been carried out by the Romans without its being God's doing?
But it was God's doing. In the parable of the householder in Matthew xxi. it says, that he would miserably destroy those wicked men, and in chapter xxii. in the marriage supper we read, “ And when the king heard thereof he was wroth : and he sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers and burned up their city.” It is certain that the Romans were only God's instruments in punishing His people, and sweeping away their temple entirely, and all its rites and ceremonies. Therefore God Himself has brought them to an end, and has now put everything on a new footing. Man is not asked to be a religious man in order to be well pleasing to God. He must first come to Christ as he is ; and God will pardon and save him, and thus make him a worshipper. We are sure that under rites and ceremonies man has been well tried by God Himself, and man failed under them. But God has brought in something a great deal better. Why go back to the old thing? No, it displaces everything. It puts man first, and what he can do, instead of asserting that man is lost, and that his only hope is in what Christ has done.' In Him there is safety, and in Him alone.
I DESIRE to put before the readers of the “ Sundayschool Worker” a few thoughts as to our responsibility as workers. Are we one and all satisfied, in the first place, that we are engaged in the work the Lord would have us to do? I feel sure that this is often lost sight of, or how could a servant of Christ, merely because of a slight or some personal offence, throw up his work, as is sometimes the case ? If the Lord has sent me to be a teacher in the Sunday school, I must surely be a teacher; He has fitted, or will fit me for it, and to Him and for Him I am to labour.
It is desirable that I should be able to work in fellowship with all the other teachers in the school. Scripture says, "How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” (Ps. cxxxiii. 1.). We are apt to look at the pleasantness only, but God says it is good as well as pleasant. It is strength too: a threefold cord is not easily broken.
But suppose I do not find this, but disunion and consequent unpleasantness, am I to give up what God has set me to do because of this? What answer shall I give to Him if I do? Will the unkindness of a fellow teacher be a sufficient reason for throwing up my work ? Ponder the path of our Lord when down here. He came to do the work His Father had set Him to do, and He met with nothing but persecution from without, was misunderstood by His disciples, and was sought to be hindered by Peter the first of the apostles. But did these things move Him from His purpose ? Not in the least. It was His Father's will and
work He came to do, and He did it in spite of all and every obstacle.
Circumstances of course may arise that make it unadvisable for me to work with one, while I can work well with another, as in the case of Paul and Barnabas in Acts xvi. Paul could not work with Barnabas, but this did not prevent his working, He chose Silas and went on with his work. If I cannot work in one place, the wide world is open; let me go to another, but let me have a godly reason for making the change.
But hindrances do not always come from without; sometimes they come from within one's own breast. It may be inertness, love of ease, or many other pleas that are raised why the Lord's work should be given up. Sure I am that many a one who has acted thus, has had no better excuse than Jonah had for running away from Nineveh. How astonished we should be if a runaway teacher were to suffer shipwreck, and be swallowed up by a fish for a day or two, and then be again thrown upon dry land, with the message ringing in his ears, “ Ğo and resume your class in the Sunday school.” But if such a course was needful in those days to enforce obedience to service, are we to think that the Lord is now indifferent as to whether we do His work or not? I do not believe it. Our privileges are greater than Jonah's were, and surely our responsibilities are no less.
God deals in these days in a less miraculous way, but in a way not less strong. Do we not remember that solemn passage in 1 Corinthians xi. 30: “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep?" It may have been entirely foreign to the thoughts of the Corinthians. to connect the disorders in their assembly, with
many being weak, many sick, and many actually dying. And so with us: we may take many of God's dealings with us as the common lot of mankind, whereas He may have a voice of discipline in stroke upon stroke, had we but ears to discern it. I have no doubt whatever that God lays His hand in affliction upon those who run away from His work. If they will not do what He would have them to do, they shall not do their own pleasure. Mark the word “weak;" who thinks of this as discipline from the Lord ?
But it was not to speak of those who run away from their work that was most in my mind. It was the work itself by those who are doing it. And not merely the way in which it is done, as to punctuality, regularity, and such like; all are right and proper—the Lord's work should be done in the best possible manner, and always as in His presence, and in a way which will please Him.
It is the work itself that is of the greatest importance. Let me illustrate it by Ezekiel xxxüi. First there is a watchman of the city: “If when he see the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people,” his duty would be done. But if the watchman see the sword come and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned ; if the sword come and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand."
So the prophet was set as a watchman over Israel : “When I say unto the wicked, O wicked
thou shalt surely die, if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity : but his blood will I require at thine hand.”