Standing on a Platform of Wood

Nehemiah 8:4 – And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose.

We had an awesome study on Zoom last night with the people from our camp. Sadly, like many things, our camp was cancelled this year. Thankfully, our camp leaders are working to keep us all connected, even with the disappointment of not having camp.

Ryan Cummings led the study last night and talked about dealing with disappointments. He spoke of the people of Israel and Judah returning home from Babylonian captivity. They dealt with disappointment after disappointment. One of the things he brought up is something I never noticed before.

During the days of Nehemiah and Ezra, they set up a time where Ezra would read the Law of Moses to the people all day, and the priests would all teach and explain the Scriptures. It was a time of renewal and revival. But it was also a reminder of disappointments.

Ezra stood on a platform of wood. I’d never really thought about it, but Ryan pointed out that the previous platform upon which King Solomon prayed was a platform of Bronze.

Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the court, and he stood on it. Then he knelt on his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven, (2 Chronicles 6:13).

From bronze to wood. From millions of people to tens of thousands. From a giant magnificent temple to a more modest structure. From being owners of the land to being servants in the land. Disappointment after disappointment.

Yet, what do the people do? They worship! They praise! They sing! They read from the word! They repent and make commitments to follow God again! Even if the preaching and teaching of the word came from a wooden platform instead of a bronze one, the most important thing was that the word was still preached.

Life is full of disappointments. We can make our own lists of things that went wrong in life. It just didn’t go how we planned. But even when we stand on a platform of wood, we must praise God and worship Him. Make the best of what you have and the situation in which you find yourself. Nehemiah and Ezra didn’t have the ideal situation, but they still ensured that the people were taught and encouraged.

Disappointment

Disappointment is inevitable in a sin-cursed world.  Disappointment is all around each of us in our own lives or in the lives of others.  Why is this so?  Why is there such a thing as a “sin-cursed world” and is the disappointment in it necessary?

We see how this all came to be as a result of Adam and Eve rebelling against God and sinned, there were consequences.

To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”  (Genesis 3:16-19; NKJV).

And it is not just man and woman that is affected but creation in its entirety.

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:19-22; NKJV).

 Sorrow.  Pain and Suffering.  Sweat or Tears.  Physical Death.  These are the results of sin.  These all certainly sound disappointing if you don’t understand the why of them.  But in understanding the why we know that all of this is intended to drive us to God and His Son.

In doing so, we live today in the context of eternity and we understand that what is going on here is but a moment and the disappointment of this life does not measure up to the tremendous eternal rest and gain in Heaven.

But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”  (Hebrews 11:16; NKJV)

God is in His country which is Heaven.  Heaven is the country to which those who believe and obey the Gospel of Jesus go. We get to see His face!  What we will not see is deception, lies, temptation, sin, suffering, or death.  These things do not exist there!

In knowing this, we can then bring encouragement into the lives around us as they might be experiencing disappointment in this world.  We can demonstrate the great hope we have in Jesus and in our expectant Heavenly home.  We can live in such a way that clearly articulates “there is no disappointment in Heaven” and “I sure would like to help you get there”!

This will shine a light into someone’s life and if they let you help will lighten their load as they go.

Moses was faithful even when…(6 of 6)

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant… (Hebrews 3:5)

#6 Moses was faithful to God even when things did not work out as expected.

Consider the past 5 articles leading up to today:

  • Would you be faithful to God even if you don’t want to do the job?
  • Would you be faithful to God even when the enthusiasm is gone?
  • Would you be faithful to God even when you receive little appreciation?
  • Would you be faithful to God even when you begin to doubt your own value and effectiveness?
  • Would you be faithful to God even when you lose support of those closest to you?

All of us would naturally struggle with one of these more than another. What we mean is that some will endure everything as long as they have their family. Others can endure a lot of junk thrown their way as long as they feel appreciated and valued.

So, what if you go through all of the above things, and things still don’t work out like you planned and hoped? Would you be faithful to God?

After 40 years of leading Israel, and after all of the heartache, sacrifice and pain, Moses was not able to go into the Promised Land. Because of a moment of weakness and exasperation toward the people of Israel, Moses had at one point taken the glory for himself and God told him the consequences for doing this (see Numbers 20).

Later, near the end of his life, he begged for God to change His mind. “Let me I pray, cross over and see the fair land,” and God replied “Enough! Speak to Me no more on this matter…for you shall not cross over this Jordan” (Deuteronomy 3:25-27).

How did Moses respond to this?

What does a real man do? What does a real man do when things don’t work out like he planned?

This is so important for those of us who are driven by results and “success” (as we define it). What happens when the road we have carefully and methodically plotted out takes a wrong turn and we are left with broken dreams? What happens when God says “No” to our heartfelt requests? Lesser men will throw up their hands, quit and walk away.

Moses asked God to appoint a good leader to succeed him, because he did not want Israel to be like sheep without a shepherd. When God told Moses that Joshua would be the new leader, Moses spent a great deal of time encouraging and strengthening Joshua because of the awesome task at hand. Moses remained humble, focused on God’s glory, and always thoughtful of what was best for God’s people…even when things did not work out like he hoped for himself. Moses gently submitted to God’s decisions, even when he didn’t agree.

That is a faithful man. Are you like Moses?