When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love to Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.
As we sang “Great Among the Nations” the first day of the 2004 Jubilee, my wife and I could not get through the first line of the song without breaking into tears. So much and so many had been lost since the satanic attack of 2001 against God’s churches. We had lost our way, many of our closest friends had given up and dreams for the Lord’s church seemed a thing of the past…yet when the church in Portland sang…it all came rushing back! The glory of the Lord was returning to his people and there was a great shout welling up in our hearts!
In 1000 BC, King David conquers the Canaanites (Jebusites) in and around the city and took Jerusalem, declaring it the capital city of the Jewish empire. David walked with God and was inspired to do something great for his God. On his heart was a place where God could dwell and the people could worship, yet the Lord did not allow David to build this dream place. David’s son Solomon would be charged to build the first temple in 960 BC, and it was glorious! The people rejoiced and celebrated with multiple festivals and sacrifices, honoring God for this great accomplishment. After Solomon- disunity, loss of conviction about God’s word and ungodly leadership led the people far from God. The kingdom was again divided and the people of Israel along with their temple fall into disrepair. As darkness reigned God sent prophet after prophet to call the people back…but to no avail.
Although God sent many messengers to turn the hearts of his people they hardened their hearts, mocked the prophets, scoffed at the call to repentance and even killed these God-fearing men! The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 2 Chronicles 36:15-16. Because of the hardness of heart in Judah, God saw that there was “no remedy” and so brought against them Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonians. He was used by God to destroy Jerusalem, burn its walls and tear down the temple as God was no longer with his people. Amazingly, God was not done with his people and we are reminded that His love endures forever Psalm 118:1-4 as he sends Jeremiah to tell the people that this discipline would leave only a remnant and then after 70 years in captivity in Babylon that he would bring back his people to Jerusalem. This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:10-11
In 606 BC, the Jews of Judah were taken into captivity, then again in 597 BC and finally in the third exile, Daniel and more of God’s people were taken in 586 BC. So from 606 BC to 536 BC, exactly 70 years, the people saw the hand of God against them because of their sin. Yet in 536 BC the LORD put on King Cyrus’ heart a conviction to rebuild God’s temple in Jerusalem. He thus sent approximately 50,000 Jews back to Jerusalem and the foundation is once again laid. This was when the people give a great shout and “The sound was heard far away!” Ezra 3:13. What a glorious victory for God and his people! By 516 BC the temple was rebuilt due to the preaching and inspiration of Haggai and Zechariah and many other powerful men of God. Tremendous mercy was shown by God and the people rejoice as the glory of God begins to return to a once exiled, captive and disobedient people. We too must learn from our “forefathers” in the faith to hold fast to our God and not depart.
In our day, we all need to shout for joy at what our God has done, is doing and will do! This past Sunday was amazing! Once again our God gave us several great victories! First, we were able to hear tremendous sharing for communion from our great friends Lance and Connie Underhill. Their call was to be daily renewed and to focus on the Cross so that the “wasting away” that we experience does not “take us out”! Therefore we do not lost heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16. Our communion was even more special as we heard this remnant/veteran couple share their passion for God and his kingdom. They have been through more than three decades together in the kingdom and are more vibrant and faithful than ever before! Certainly Lance and Connie have defied what could be used as excuses of age or time and have not lost heart, rather they exemplify a renewed heart!
Helen and I have been friends with the Underhills since 2004 when we met them in Portland, Oregon. They had moved to Portland like us, looking for revival. We had both seen the fall and destruction of the ICOC, our “kingdom and temple”. Sadly we saw the spiritual destruction of many of our close friends, a loss of faith and conviction and desire to seek and save the lost. The Underhill’s witnessed this on the East Coast from Florida to Boston and we saw this in Central California and in the family of churches from San Diego to Seattle.
After a convicting and inspiring communion by his parents, Joey Underhill shared masterfully for our contribution. Joey inspired us with his tales of clinging to God through woe and difficulty on the mission field of Sao Paulo, Brazil. He shared a tiny apartment with another brother in one of the most dangerous parts of the city, but thought this was “normal”. After having their apartment robbed at gunpoint, Joey realized the difficulty of the task ahead…building the Lord’s church in a foreign land. Undaunted, the brothers kept fighting on. From a tiny planting of seven disciples where only one spoke Portuguese, our sister church in Sao Paulo has grown to 137 faithful disciples and this coming year they plan to plant Rio de Janeiro! Joey charged us with continuing to support the amazing missionaries on the foreign field with our 9X November Special Contribution.
We then had the privilege of hearing from one of our young “prophets” David Green who is also the son remnant disciples, our own shepherds, Ted and Kathy Green. David had seen the “glory” of the first “temple” as a young man and had become a disciple as a teen. David shared how in time there was a huge drifting in the churches and sin began to reign. He saw that his friends in the church looked just like the world and in time he too gave up and turned away. Through all this time some embers of fire still smoldered in David’s heart. Although fallen away, he watched what was happening in the new movement, starting in Portland, and eventually was restored, right here in Orlando. David preached with passion, care and concern as to how we must get more “remnant” disciples in our church as they are “missing”. He called us to, Find the Remnant that is Missing, to Find the Religious that Need to be Saved and to be the Members Seeking Revival! David preached that in this way the “spiritual temple” could be filled with “Those Missing from God’s House”!
Sunday was so inspiring and I was so fired up and encouraged looking at what God has done in just three years’ time. As I sat there Sunday thinking about what God has done…of course, I got little choked up and once again tears began to fill my eyes. From one church of 29 to now seven churches of 378 all over the South with young prophets raising up in each church AND the older remnant is finding their passion again! What an amazing time! Let us learn from our predecessors in each generation and live to glorify God, holding passionately to his word, all the while reaching out to a lost world that is dying to be saved. Finally, to close out our Sunday service I had the privilege of announcing our Special Missions final numbers. Our goal was $23,481 and through faith, hard work and the power of our God we gave $24,965! As I announced the total, “All the people gave a great shout…and the sound was heard far away”!