After hundreds of years of sending prophet after prophet to call His people to turn away from the false gods of the surrounding nations, cease their immorality, injustice and oppression of the poor, and turn back to Him, God had finally said “enough is enough!” He allowed the northern part of the nation to be invaded and scattered by the Assyrians, and when the southern part, Judah, still did not respond to Him, He allowed the Babylonians to conquer them and carry them into captivity. After seventy years of exile, He brought them back to the promised land through Ezra and Nehemiah, with a commission to rebuild both the city and the temple.
Things did not go well, however. All kinds of distractions and interruptions meant that the work of rebuilding the temple was delayed again and again. Finally, the Lord sent the prophet Haggai to get the people back on track. One of the first things Haggai encountered was the people who said, “The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.” (Haggai 1:2) They would build the Lord’s house someday, but it was not a priority on their to-do list.
We encounter exactly the same problem today. Working to build God’s House – to establish God’s Kingdom on earth – is something we will do “someday” – when we have more money, or more time, or more people to work with. Or when the spiritual atmosphere is clearer. Or when it is a more favorable time. Or when it is more convenient. Or after we have all our own affairs sorted out. Anytime but now.
I was recently talking to a young man who lives in one of the major tourist areas of Australia. The church where he fellowships has, in the past, regularly erected a tent and conducted evangelistic crusades throughout the area. Now, however, the area has become a favored holiday destination for people from the Middle East, and the local council does not want to offend their sensibilities. It is no longer considered socially acceptable for the Gospel to be preached in such an open manner, and the council has denied the church permission to erect its tent.
This young man’s reaction was, “Oh well, it’s a different season now… it’s not the right time.. the spiritual climate has changed.” So, it would seem, the church bows down and surrenders before the spirit of that false religion. Why? Surely this, more than ever, is the time for building God’s House. Surely they should be attacking that thing with all the power of the Blood of Jesus, and the authority of the Word of God. They should be using every resource of spiritual warfare to tear down those barriers that are being put up against the Gospel, so that foundations of truth can be laid in the lives of individuals, and that city can be claimed for Christ. And while they are at it, they should be challenging the council in the natural as to why they discriminate against Christians. This is not the time for backing down or putting off, but the time to build the House of the Lord.
On a wider scale, there are many in the western world who say we are living in a “post-Christian era”. They mean that the church has lost its influence, that it is no longer a leader in the society, and that therefore it must simply adapt to the position which is allowed to it and toddle along as best it can.
It is true that the church has lost its influence and its position of leadership. This has happened precisely because it has defaulted on its mandate. It has stood aside and allowed other forces – humanism, occultism, the homosexual lobby, other world religions – to set the agenda. The church has ceased to lead, therefore its leadership is no longer accepted. Should we, then, accept this as our lot, and simply lay down and quietly fade into oblivion?
Most certainly not! In the long run, this era will be “post-Christian” only if we allow it to be. Only if we continue to default on our calling to be the head and not the tail. Only if we continue to declare that the time for building God’s House is any time other than the present.
It is time for the Church to arise, to take up the weapons of spiritual warfare and come against all those forces that have a vested interest in keeping the Church out of action. It is time for the Church to go forth, reclaiming the territory that has been stolen by the enemy. It is time for the Church to take up its spiritual tools and building blocks, laying again foundations of righteousness, truth and justice in our land. The time to rebuild the House of the Lord is now.