Ken Rudge, St. Austell, England
‘And they sang together . . . praising and giving thanks unto the Lord . . . But many wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy’, Ezra 3. 11, 12.
If the laying down of the Temple foundations provided for the returned remnant such a joyous and emotional moment of outburst, it is a deeply frightening to see how short lived that moment was. The noise of their celebrations had hardly subsided when we read, ‘Now when the adversaries . . . heard . . . then they came’, Ezra 4. 1.
What a fragile beginning this little company had made under the good hand of God and the leadership of Zerubbabel and Jeshua. After the sad years of desolation and despair, the few had escaped the materialistic magnet of exilic Babylon to raise again the testimony of the Temple and the place in which God had placed His Name. So much depended on this city for the future fulfilment of God’s promises to them. So they came to what was rubble and dust and ‘began again to build the house of God’. This was a gigantic step of faith and devotion.
They started with the ‘House of God’. They did the right thing! This is the correct moral order of things as regards to God and His work, He must have the first place. Any believer should be able to tell you that the most vital part of God’s work is His interests not men’s. If the people of God have God’s portion as the first requirement above all else then, everything that is needful will follow in its train. This is basic and fundamental. This is why the enemy could see the red light flashing and dashed in to assail with every cunning plea this new and fragile work. Sadly, he succeeded in delaying it for 16 to 18 years, Ezra 4. 24.
We are moving in very similar days to those that the book of Ezra records for us. We seek to rebuild a witness for God amidst the rubble of 2000 years of Christendom. Donald Norbie’s article in this issue touches on the reasons why assemblies such as we belong to, die. It is searching reading and one can almost see the thing happening time and again in our country. The enemy assails again with pleas to lessen the bite of ‘sin’ and ‘hell’ and the need for ‘repentance’ in our gospel preaching. Yet to do so denies the very reasons for which Christ came and He is the centre of the gospel. Without Him there is no ‘good news from God’. Again the ‘Supper’ is sidelined, being diminished in time and place all in the effort to ‘jolly things up’ and make them ‘more attractive’ to the many. Yet to do so robs Christ of His place amongst His own and denies them the one, divinely requested opportunity, to show that He has their first devotion. Beware the fingerprints of the enemy! He will rob God if he can, and do it through those that profess His Name.
Now to this first issue of the magazine in a new year. To provide variety and relevance in the magazine has been one of our prior aims and this issue reflects that exercise. We have the needy pastoral situation of ‘Bullying in the Workplace’ given some airing, the exploration of ‘Home Schooling’ as an option for some, and the final challenging article in the current Keynote Article section reminding us that the Lord is coming back! There is much more for you to enjoy and we do trust that the Lord will use this magazine for the blessing of many of His people.