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.

Daniel – Becoming Like the Idol

They drank the wine and praised their gods made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, or stone.
(Daniel 5:4)

In Daniel 5, God teaches King Belshazzar a very humbling and permanent lesson about his arrogance before the Lord. What I would like to think about today is that they praised their gods made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. Daniel said these gods do not see or hear or know (Daniel 5:23).

Take a minute to think about the following passage from Psalms.

Why should other nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in heaven. He does whatever he wants. Their idols are made of silver and gold. They were made by human hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak. They have eyes, but they cannot see. They have ears, but they cannot hear. They have noses, but they cannot smell. They have hands, but they cannot feel. They have feet, but they cannot walk. They cannot even make a sound with their throats. Those who make idols end up like them. So does everyone who trusts them. Israel, trust the LORD. He is your helper and your shield.
(Psalms 115:2-9)

Gods of earthly materials cannot see, hear, speak, smell or move. Notice what the Psalmist said about those who worship idols…

Those who make idols end up like them. So does everyone who trusts them.

Did they literally end up without any use of their senses or motor skills? No. But spiritually speaking they could not see, hear, speak or perceive anything that belongs to God. The life of worshipping idols destroys our understanding, and our ability to speak and move for God.

Do we have idolatry today? Of course, let’s look at one specific reference from the apostle Paul.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
(Colossians 3:5)

What is idolatry? Covetousness, greediness, a lust for more, more, more. It could be more money, stuff, status, approval, sexual pleasure, etc., but whatever it is it becomes our god. This is our idolatry that we worship.

Does that affect your ability to see, hear, speak and perceive the things of God? Yes, let’s listen to Jesus.

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘”You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
(Matthew 13:10-17)

As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
(Matthew 13:22)

The cares and lust for this world choke the word of God and it does not do what it’s supposed to do within our hearts. Our idolatry, our lust for more, more, more, hinders us from hearing God’s word. It keeps us from speaking on God’s behalf. Our ability to perceive and understand things on a spiritual level is greatly diminished. We become like our idols. Yell at them all day long and they won’t hear. Bang at them with a hammer and they won’t flinch. This is what happens to man’s soul when he becomes entrenched in idolatry.

It’s something for us to think about today in prayer. Lord, help us to expose our idolatry. May we smash our idols before you, Lord, so that our eyes, ears, hearts, hands, feet and mouths may be used only for You.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
(1 John 5:21)