"TURNING THE TABLES."
Intro. The work of rebuilding the temple had been halted because of a decree from king Artaxerxes who had responded to a letter of warning from the leaders of the surrounding area. They came with the decree of the king and forced them to stop the building. Several years have gone by and Artaxerxes is now dead and Darius has been reigning for two years when the prophets Haggai and Zechariah began to prophesy, encouraging them to get busy on the work again.
I. ZEREBABBEL AND JOSHUA WITH THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF THE PROPHETS HAVE STARTED AGAIN THE DIFFICULT PROJECT OF THE REBUILDING THE TEMPLE.
A. The people when they had left off the task of building the temple had become busy fixing up their own houses.
1. The book of the prophet Haggai opens:
In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the governor of Judah, and to Joshua the high priest, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, The people are saying "This is not the time that the LORD'S house should be built. Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?
2. Then the prophet told the people that at the reason for all their calamities and poverty was that they had forsaken the house of the Lord.
3. The prophet Zechariah had said:
The angel that talked with me came again, and woke me up and said to me, What do you see? And I said, I see a gold candlestick, with a bowl upon the top of it, and it has seven lamps on it, and there are seven pipes connected to the seven lamps, and there are two olive trees by it, one on either side of the bowl. So I asked the angel that spoke to me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No my lord." Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain of rubble? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone shouting, Grace, grace unto it. Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this
house; his hands shall also finish it; and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me unto you. For who has despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
B. As soon as they restarted the work of building the temple, the building inspectors showed up to red tag the building.
1. How the enemies of God hate to see the work of God go forward.
2. They tried to intimidate them. They asked, "Who gave you the orders to build, and what are the names of the men in charge here?
3. They responded to them saying that God gave the orders and was in charge of the rebuilding of the great temple. Plus they had a decree from Cyrus.
C. Have you ever noticed how when you are determined to do some work for the Lord, how the enemy will seek to deter you from that work?
1. Here these men are seeking to intimidate them with the fear of being reported to the king.
2. This ploy had worked earlier and they received a cease and desist order from the king.
3. Now here they are again determined to stop the work.
4. It is amazing all of the tactics that Satan will use to get you to stop serving the Lord.
a. He will use fear.
b. He often uses discouragement.
c. He gets you so involved in other personal projects that you do not have the time.
D. In an endeavor to stop the work, these men sent a letter to King Darius stating that these men had declared that they had the authority from King Cyrus to build the temple, and suggested that he check the records and see if this was true. They were certain that once again they could get an order of the king to stop the work.
II. DARIUS THE KING ORDERED THE SEARCH AND DISCOVERED IN THE RECORDS THE DECREE OF CYRUS.
A. Cyrus not only decreed that the Temple be rebuilt, but that the king should be billed for the expenses.
1. Also the vessels of the temple that had been taken by Nebuchadnezzer should be returned.
B. These men that were hoping to get a decree of Darius to stop the work instead got an order to stay away from these men and leave them alone.
1. That from the taxes that they collected from that part of the king's realm they should give them whatever money they needed for expenses.
2. That they also were to give them whatever animals or other things that they might need for the sacrifices.
3. He enforced the decree by declaring that if anyone tried to alter the decree that the timbers of his house were to be used to make a gallows and he was to be hanged on that gallows.
4. That is what was known as putting teeth in your decree.
III. THIS STORY ILLUSTRATES SEVERAL OF THE PROMISES OF GOD.
A. We are promised in Isaiah:
No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.
B. David said:
For the LORD is our defense; and the Holy One of Israel is our king.
1. I have found that if I try to defend myself, the Lord will let me.
2. If I will commit myself to Him, He will defend me.
3. When I attempt to defend myself, I have a poor defense, but when I let Him defend me, nothing can move me, the defense is solid.
He only is my rock and my salvation: He is my defense; I shall not be moved.
C. Joseph made an interesting statement to his brothers at his father's death. They were very fearful for they thought now that their dad was dead that Joseph would get even with them for the dastardly things they had done to him. But Joseph said to them:
But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive.
1. As in our story today, God turned the tables on the evil intentions of the brothers of Joseph and brought good out of what they had intended for evil.
2. God took the attempt to stop the work, and used it to further the work.
D. When we first started at Calvary Chapel we were meeting in a small little chapel on Church Street in Costa Mesa that seated 87 people.
1. After two years, the small chapel could not contain the growing congregation, so we started looking for property where we could build larger facilities.
2. Here is where we began to run into government bureaucracy. It seemed that the Costa Mesa planning department was seeking to throw every possible road block at us to prohibit us from building in their city.
a. One of the difficult things was the parking requirements of one parking space for every three seats in the main sanctuary.
b. With the price of property, that placed a great burden on the church to afford sufficient property to build.
c. The realtor and I drove all over Costa Mesa looking for property.
d. We finally found an acre over on Bay Street, that was owned by Theodore Robbins Ford, right behind his auto center. We made an arrangement with him to buy the property and he was going to allow us to park on Sundays on a new parking lot he was building.
e. We had a master plan drawn up and presented it to the planning department who seemed to be sympathetic and suggested that it looked like a great solution for a difficult problem that churches face in seeking to get sufficient parking.
f. However when we took the plan to the planning commission, they turned us down, so we appealed to the city counsel.
g. On the night that the plan was presented to the city counsel, the chambers were filled with the neighbors. The city counsel was a little more diplomatic in that they approved the plan subject to our purchasing sufficient neighboring property to provide for the required parking should Theodore Robbins ever rescind the agreement. The prices immediately doubled on the Bay Street property, and we had to scrap that plan.
h. I was upset with the city counsel and the planning department and went away mumbling about bureaucrats.
i. My problem? I did not know how great a future God had in mind for our church.
j. Like Jacob, I was crying all things are working against us, when in reality all things were working for us.
k. God said to Jeremiah: "For I know the plans I have for you, saith the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."
l. God wants to teach me the lessons of faith. To trust Him when I can't see the reasons, to trust Him when everything looks hopeless.
m. We are so quick to jump to conclusions, to think that this is surely the end, when it is just the beginning.
E. God so often brings good out of evil intentions.
1. Perhaps the most classic example of good coming out of evil is found in the life of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
2. The most evil thing that ever happened in the history of the world was when the rulers of the Jews had determined to get rid of Jesus and plotted to put Him to death. Jesus was a threat to them and their authority. Jesus was bad for their business.
3. They brought Him before the Roman judge Pilate, with trumped up charges and insisted that He be crucified. When Pilate asked, "Why, what evil has He done?" They had no answer but just continued to insist that He be crucified.
4. Their thirst for His blood could not be satisfied until they saw Him nailed to that cross. Here is love incarnate hanging on that cross.
5. Out of that most evil deed ever came the greatest good ever, our redemption. They meant it for evil, God intended it for good.
6. Peter wrote:
You know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your empty living received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
F. It is possible that your world seems to be turned upside down today, you feel as though you are trapped and there is no way out. It may be that you came today as a last desperate attempt to find help.
G. Congratulations, you did the right thing; the Lord is here to help you. It is quite possible that He allowed you to become so desperate that you would seek Him, and out of this evil in your life will come the greatest good, because it has brought you to a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. So one day as you look back on this day that you thought was the worst day of your life, in reality was the best day in your life, because it was the day you cast yourself on the mercy of the Lord and were saved.