The Lessons of Advent 1: A house without glory

Today precisely in the Jewish celebrates the feast of Hannukah. The Hannukah starts with the desecration and rededication of Zerrubabel’s temple. The miracle that is associated with this feast has all to do with the Menorah of the Temple, only had oil for one day but continued to burn for 7 days.

However there was another temple that came after these happenings, that Herod the Great tore down the Temple of Zerrubabel and constructed a majestic structure that took 46 years to build. It is this temple that Anna the prophetess would pray and fast knowing that God was preparing a great new time for Israel and the world. Simeon would also join this prayer and prophetic effort. It is in this Temple that Jesus would come as a baby, also 12 years old, in His ministry, and in His death would its demise begin.

How does this tie into our series on Advent?

I believe it is a starting point that we look at what parallels we can draw from this Advent preparation for the Coming of Christ, and this new Advent we are living today. We are living a time of great crisis, yet no different to the Coming of Christ to an Israel already occupied by foreign armies, no king or government of its own. The status quo was fragile and there were regular uprisings and revolutions.

When God’s house has no glory God is preparing something new

God simultaneously brings elements of those new things within the existing as part of a transition

The Bible does not speak of this construction, 46 years in the making, nor in its dedication. It is obvious from this Biblical silence that there was no significant heavenly approval or historians, scribes would have written about it. When God’s glory departs from the house we see leaders manipulate and machinate to consolidate their own power. Ezekiel 10 tells us that the Glory that departed Solomon’s temple departed in several stages, it just did not depart. We see it depart from the inner sanctum, and to the inner court, then the outer court, the threshold, and the mountain facing. God does not withdraw His glory in one go. He waits to see if there is any repentance. This departure can be interpreted that spiritual leadership was devoid of divine inspiration and authority. The priesthood simply carried on with the mechanics of their services, and they began to lack the passion that comes from the reality of serving a Glory that can be seen and felt. It actually is spiritually imaged so that when we see Nebuchadnezzar come into Jerusalem to destroy the Temple, the withdrawal of God’s glory is complete. Ezekiel 10 gives it from heaven’s perspective, and for Ezekiel, a high priest himself, it was the motive for great grief. The renewal in the time of Zerrubabel and the dedication does not last long before desecration and many other abominations come and go, until Herod substitutes it for a house God did not ask for ,nor give His sign of approval. When Jesus appears as a baby what is in course is the steady transition to a House that has no glory to a Church full of Jesus’ Spirit. The Advent shows us the shift from the Temple having any role in the Consolation of Israel, to being a place of mere accomplishing the requirements of the Law.

We must draw with what is happening now, and what part the so called Church is in this time, are we simply accomplishing requirements or are we in the forefront of the Second Advent that culminates with the Coming of Christ as King and Lord? May I be as bold to say that a congregation that does not prepare its people for this 2nd Advent is akin to Herod’s Temple, where elements come and go, people are moved upon by the Lord, moving away to their full calling in God. There are minorities in some congregations that are receiving insight into what is happening now but the majority are going about spiritual life as usual. I think the old normal came to an end in March 2020. Could it be that the 70 years since the refounding of Israel as a nation is a marker, a demarcation line in God’s timetable to allow things now to flow toward a mighty confrontation between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. So if this is true it makes our study of the 1st Advent and the projection to the 2nd Advent being lessons and insights key to our preparation for dwelling in a new house, a new city of Glory. Whilst this is in preparation Jesus will visit congregations in various preparatory forms for which the slumbering, fleshy, will never understand in their meaning or their purpose. He will come and go and some will never know that He left.

In a house without glory, it won’t be leaders who will be part of God’s preparation for His New advent, it will be those who were obedient to a call to obscurity

Obscurity contrasts with so many churches who have large platforms, bands and great sensational speakers, but it won’t be here where God is birthing the conditions for the 2nd Advent

Anna and Simeon are prophets. They contrast with the modern description of prophets who seem to be very prolific in their transmission of words and revelations. These two are not priests, leaders or have any ministerial role in Israel. God chose them because they saw that what they would do would be to use the length of their lives in preparation for something that they knew was so much bigger than they, and its implication was to impact the world and many generations. If we see and compare the 1st coming of Christ, physically, what will be His 2nd physical coming be like? I believe there are two streams of ministry which will be at the forefront of this 2nd Advent, it shall be the hidden prophetic and the hidden intercessors. In every revival of faith since the beginning it is these hidden people, lacking in recognition from leaders that God will choose to do His work of preparation. Look at Simeon in Luke 2, the Holy Spirit was upon him, revealed to him, led him. This meeting with the baby Jesus must have gone completely unnoticed, but it was a meeting that marked the end of Simeon’s preparatory and prophetic ministry on the earth. He left this world knowing he obeyed and carried the task to the end. The key is carrying your task to the end.

Why does God choose to hide this work from some? It is because He knows those who know Him. He knows those who will respond to a call, where noone will hear you, where you will not have a pulpit to share, where others will not be your friend, where you will be considered mad. All these negatives are tough at the beginning, but as God draws you into His inner circle, the fellowship there, the insights, the peace, the protection, cannot be compared. What priest was used to prepare God’s people, and it was indeed Caiaphas and Annas who inadvertently through their opposition, bought about by their own corruption, who even prophesied the benefits of Jesus’ death, but were on the wrong side of God’s plan. We readily preach about being in God’s purpose by our obedience, we inspire this way, but the Bible readily shows us that even Judas was in God’s purpose for the wrong reasons. We need to review some modern expressions of preaching, because we can be guilty of giving half truths, and people preach as though God needs us to fulfil His Purpose, the fact is we will fulfil His purpose however we live, but our destiny in living on the wrong side of God’s purpose is a lost eternity and the lake of fire . The letter to the Ephesians tell us the Church is the “habitation” of God, or simply, the new temple, but even here, the expressions what we call Church can become empty of God’s glory because we have compromised with the enemy, not discerned the times, not obeyed the Call.

When God’s house has no glory is where form replaces fire

We have gone through stages and seasons where we tried to pin the solutions to lack of growth on strategies instead of seeing our lack of growth and lack of impact is a symptom of something spiritual.

Laodiceia was rebuked for her lukewarmness, because they became focused on what they had, in the material and failed to notice that spiritually the very things they had positively as possessions had become disabilities in the spiritual. I believe a return to sound theology is a good thing, but if theology is a form without fire then it is useless, if our pursuit for sound theology comes from a fire to ignite others to know truth, then it is no longer just a form. We can have a formula for great leadership but without the Holy Spirit gifting and calling it is merely a management team. If we look for numerical growth over spiritual growth we are growing a club. The fire, in Scripture ALWAYS came down. The examples of 1 Kings 18, 2 Chronicles 7, are very striking in this vein. So the fire we need to make our forms become life, and impact must come from above. The renting of the veil in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion, lays bare the forms, and the lack of fire or glory. Even Paul cites the process that came in the time of the Early Church, the Jews had to reestablish the old form of righteousness rejecting the new way revealed in Christ. Whereas in the Jewish way few were priests, in the Church all are called into a corporate priesthood. The fire of the Holy Spirit ordains a different priesthood.

Concluding words

I believe we need to end this 1st part here. If we return to it, God knows, however our story of Christmas, the 1st Advent has so much to do with the 2nd. We need to celebrate Christmas knowing it is a prophetic feast that exhorts us to be like Anna and Simeon, in that we are part of the preparation. Be like Elizabeth, recognising Jesus in others, be like Mary, to obey to bring Jesus into birthing in our generation, even if it costs everything. May we reflect on these words and may we situate ourselves in this time.

Maranatha, come Lord, come quickly.

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