The history of Israel in the Old Testament is a full type of the history of the church, and the recovery of a remnant of the children of Israel from Babylon to Jerusalem for the rebuilding of the temple and the city signifies the Lord’s recovery of a remnant of the church out of today’s division and confusion back to the original ground of oneness for the building up of the church as the house of God and the kingdom of God.
This week in our morning revival we are focusing on a very particular and wonderful topic, The Recovery of the Church as God’s House and God’s City as Portrayed in Ezra and Nehemiah.
The Bible is a wonderful book with the Old and New Testament, and the Old Testament is full of types and figures portraying the coming reality in the New Testament. Among all the types portrayed in the Old Testament, the nation of Israel is an all-inclusive type of the church, and their experience points to our Christian experience today.
The children of Israel fell into Egypt after Joseph, they were enslaved there for 400 years, and then God sent Moses in His sovereignty to deliver them out of Egypt, bring them across the Red Sea to the wilderness, feed them with manna, give them water from the cleft rock, and faithfully bring them to the good land, where they built the temple at the time of Solomon.
Unfortunately, due to Solomon’s unfaithfulness, God allowed king Nebuchadnezzar from Babylon to come and invade Jerusalem, and he destroyed the temple and the city, captured most of the children of Israel, took them into captivity in Babylon, and kept there.
At the end of 70 years of captivity in Babylon, as Jeremiah prophesied, king Cyrus came, and he decreed that God’s people can return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and the temple, according to the desire God put in their heart.
This type of the people of Israel points to our experience as the church; however, most believers today know how to apply and experience the first part of Israel’s experience, but they do not know how to experience the return from captivity.
The return of Israel from captivity in Babylon back to Israel is not much understood and applied. But praise the Lord, through the ministry of the age, we as those in the Lord’s recovery understand this type, and it is applicable to us, just as the Passover, crossing the Red Sea, eating the manna, and the other types are.
The return of the children of Israel to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the temple signifies the Lord’s recovery of a remnant of the church for the rebuilding of the church as the house of God and the kingdom of God.
In the books of Ezra and Nehemiah – considered to be the “recovery books” – we see how the Lord recovered a remnant of His people back to the ground of oneness to rebuild the temple and the house of God.
Being in the Lord’s Recovery of a Remnant of a Church out of Division and Back to the Ground of Oneness for God’s Building
Babylon signifies religion, in particular the Roman Catholic church with her daughters; the Catholic church captured God’s people, bringing them into confusion and division through her practices and teachings.
This is seen in type with the children of Israel, and in application in the history of Christianity all the way to our days. God’s people today are not gathered but scattered by different doctrines and teachings; they are in confusion and division, and there’s no building up in Christianity today.
Therefore, we today need to be in the Lord’s recovery of a remnant of the church out of today’s division and confusion and back to the original ground of oneness, for the building up of the church as the house of God and the kingdom of God (Rev. 17:1-6; 18:2, 4a).
Today, as Martin Luther did 500 years ago, we in the Lord’s recovery are sounding this call: come out of her, the Lord’s people, and come back to God’s original intention to build up the church on the ground of oneness!
Today the Lord is recovering a remnant of people that come out of the land and confusion and division in Christendom, and come back to the land of oneness, back to Jerusalem, to have the proper church life and build up the church as the Body of Christ to be God’s house for His expression and God’s kingdom for His rule and reign.
There has to be a coming out of Babylon and a return to the original ground of oneness for the rebuilding of the church. What we see today in fallen Christendom is confusion, mixture, and division, and this will continue until it consummates in the Great Babylon; a day will come when Babylon will be burned up, and many Hallelujah’s will be released!
Today the Lord wants to rescue a remnant whose spirit God has stirred up to leave Babylon and come back to the ground of oneness.
Just as in the Old Testament, when not all the Jews came back to Jerusalem, so today there’s only a small number that come out of Babylon and return to God’s original intention, the ground of oneness, to build the church as the desire of God’s heart.
This remnant takes the lead to represent the rest of the believers; they take the ground of oneness, coming out of the land of division, standing on the local ground, and builds God’s house and His kingdom.
The church was there in the beginning in God’s intention, but it became lost and damaged; the degradation of the church took place throughout the centuries, so today the church needs to be restored back to God’s original intention.
Our vision should not be governed by the present situation of the church or the traditional practices, but by God’s original intention and standard, as revealed in the Scriptures. May we be those who pray to the Lord,
Lord, gain a recovery of a remnant of the church out of today’s division and confusion back to the original ground of oneness for the building up of the church as God’s house and God’s kingdom! May there be so many genuine believers in Christ and seekers of the Lord throughout the fallen Christianity that hear the Lord’s voice, Come out of her, My people! Lord, stir the spirits of so many of Your lovers to have great searchings of heart and return to the ground of oneness and build the church according to God’s original intention!
Being Recovered to the Unique Ground of Oneness and the Enjoyment of Christ’s Riches
In the Old Testament type, the children of Israel were scattered and carried away to many places, in particular, to Babylon; today in Christianity the believers are scattered, divided, and carried away from the proper ground of unity to a wrong ground.
In a very real sense, the believers today are more scattered than the children of Israel were, and there is a great need to be recovered! The recovery of the children of Israel was not only from Babylon but back to Jerusalem, the unique ground ordained by God to have the temple and city built on (see Deut. 12:5).
God’s people today need to be recovered out of Babylon back to unique ground of oneness (Deut. 12:5, 11-14; Psa. 133; Rev. 1:11). There is a place where God has chosen to put His name – Jerusalem, which is a type of the genuine ground of oneness of the church!
Without Jerusalem, the center for God’s people to worship Him, the people of Israel were divided and scattered; but God ordained that three times a year all the males in Israel would be gathered to feast in Jerusalem, and this kept the oneness of the people of Israel.
Foreseeing that the church will be divided without the local ground of oneness, the Lord has ordained this unique ground of unity for us to stand on and build up the church on, and this keeps us one.
We need to be part of the Lord’s recovery of a remnant of the church out of today’s division and confusion, and back to the ground of oneness to build up the church. One other aspect of degradation and confusion in today’s Christianity is the fact that the believers don’t enjoy the riches of Christ.
Today’s Babylon, just as in the old times, has captured both God’s people and the riches in God’s temple, the vessels used for God’s service. In today’s Christianity the believers are not encouraged to enjoy the riches of Christ, to feast with Christ, and to enjoy Christ in full.
The reason there’s so little or even no enjoyment of Christ’s riches is because all the vessels in the temple have been carried away by Babylon the great.
The Lord wants to recover the experience of the riches of Christ – He wants that His people would come out of division and confusion, back to the ground of oneness, and be recovered to the enjoyment of all the different aspects of the riches of Christ!
We need to return with the riches of Christ, for these riches do not belong in Babylon. The vessels of gold and silver belong to God’s house, His temple, and not the idol’s temple.
In the divisions in Christianity today there are many genuine believers who experience Christ, but their experience doesn’t belong to the land of division but to the house of God, the ground of oneness, where God pours out His blessing.
In returning to the ground of the church, we also need to bring back with us all the riches of Christ for the building up of God’s testimony.
Lord Jesus, we want to be part of the Lord’s recovery of a remnant of the church that comes out of today’s division and confusion and back to the ground of oneness and to the enjoyment of the riches of Christ. Recover us out of any division, scattering, and confusion, and back to the unique ground of oneness. Lord, recover us back to the enjoyment of the unsearchably rich Christ as the all-inclusive Spirit! Recover us and recover many back to the genuine ground of oneness and back to the enjoyment of the riches of Christ for the building up of the church!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by James Lee for this week, and portions from, The Conclusion of the New Testament, msg. 230 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Recovery of the Church (2017 fall ITERO), week 4, The Recovery of the Church as God’s House and God’s City as Portrayed in Ezra and Nehemiah.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Down in Babylon, in captivity, / Oh, the Lord has stirred our spirit up! / Scattered everywhere, without unity, / Oh, the Lord has stirred our spirit up! / … To Jerusalem, from captivity, / God is with us, let us all go up! / To the one unique ground of unity, / God is with us, let us all go up! (Hymns #1252)
# Learn the lesson from church hist’ry / Of the failures we must avoid; / Degradation we fight against, / Recov’ring from divisive ground / To the oneness of the Body; / Returning to what God’s revealed. / Lord build in us, Lord build in us / The Kingdom life. The Kingdom life. (Song on the church)
# His glory broke upon us when we saw Him in the church, / For here are all His riches, here we’ve given up our search; / ’Tis here He satisfies our longing spirits o’er and o’er, / And every day He’s dearer than He was the day before. (Hymns #1152)
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