Defilement, Deconstruction, and Reconstruction

Scripture Focus: Zechariah 5.3-4
3 And he said to me, “This is the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished. 4 The Lord Almighty declares, ‘I will send it out, and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of anyone who swears falsely by my name. It will remain in that house and destroy it completely, both its timbers and its stones.’” 

Reflection: Defilement, Deconstruction, and Reconstruction
By John Tillman

Many of Zechariah’s visions are about cleansing and rebuilding afresh. Those returning from exile face a destroyed and defiled landscape.

It isn’t so hard for us to imagine something similar today. Millions of people have fled the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the cities and towns left behind have been bombed to rubble in ways not seen since World War II. Not only bombed buildings but mass graves await those who hope to one day return. Destruction and defilement.

Like post-war Europe, much of Jerusalem in Zechariah’s day would have to be reconstructed from the ground up. However, God isn’t only concerned with physical reconstruction. He wants to reconstruct the people’s faith, starting with their hearts.

God is and always has sought to deal with the corruption and defilement of human hearts. The mental, social, and physical damage we cause one another flows from inner corruption. When our cities are wicked, our hearts are the source. When our countryside is corrupt, our hearts are the cause. When Jerusalem and its walls and Temple were destroyed and burned with fire, it was because of their hearts.

As the new community of Jerusalem rebuilt the Temple, their homes, and eventually the wall, God was concerned that no spiritual defilement would be present. Zechariah sees a vision of a flying scroll that represents a curse. This curse will target those whose hearts seek wicked ways of prospering and will destroy their homes.

Zechariah’s “timbers and stones” language echoes some passages about physical molds in Leviticus. (Leviticus 14.35-45) Priests inspected homes with mold. If the mold spread, the first step was to remove only the affected stones. But if the mold returned, the entire house had to be deconstructed, “stones, timbers, and all the plaster,” and removed from the community. 

May we never allow ourselves to think we, or our culture, are immune to the rot of sin. In our individual lives, our churches, and the structures of our denominations and nations, we all face defiling influences from our cultures.

Defiling influences have to be fully removed to save existing structures. If small steps do not stop the seeping spread of defilement, more extreme measures are required. Defiled structures must be completely deconstructed and rebuilt.

Cutting out corruption is salvific. Destruction is not God’s goal. Reconstruction is. Take care to deconstruct and destroy only when corruption persists.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; early in the morning I make my appeal and watch for you. — Psalm 5.3

Today’s Readings
Zechariah 5 (Listen – 1:35)
Matthew 2 (Listen – 3:18)

Read more about Treasuring Our Temples
Through the Babylonian destruction, God did not allow the Temple to be defiled. He took the first step to cleanse it.

Read more about What Time is It?
Our time is not so different…We see around us the elements of the song. Love and hate, war and peace, deconstruction and reconstruction…

Blossoming of Joy in Adversity :: Joy of Advent

John 8.12
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Reflection: Blossoming of Joy in Adversity :: Joy of Advent
By John Tillman

We find examples of joy under persecution and difficulty in Jesus, Peter, John, Paul, and many others in scripture. But examples are also blossoming amidst persecution around the world.

Last week, simultaneous, coordinated raids were conducted across a large city. Doors to multiple homes and businesses were forced open. Government agents rushed to arrest as many targets as possible before warnings could go out to others. Many members and elders of a large church organization were taken away to secret locations. As of this writing, none have been released.

It sounds dramatic to Westerners, but in many parts of the world, that’s just a normal Tuesday.

From hiding, before his eventual arrest, one of those elders wrote an encouraging letter of joy to the remaining church members.

Beloved brothers and sisters, do you have joy? Are you rejoicing in the fact that you are suffering with Christ because of this church? Do you know that we are blessed? The Lord is bestowing on us poor people today treasures of glory from heaven! The Lord himself is bestowing on us weak people comfort from heaven! The Lord Jesus is shining on us blind people his great light. Those of us brothers and sisters standing on the front lines of the gospel war will earn great spiritual riches!

Thank the Lord for being with us in this trial. Thank the Lord for cultivating us according to his true Word! Thank the Lord for training us through these days of hardship! Thank the Lord for sculpting us through today’s persecution! May the Lord give us great joy and true hope and make us strong through reliance on him…
May the whole world know that we are joyfully willing to receive this persecution for the sake of our faith.

Beloved brothers and sisters, I am writing this letter in “hiding.” May you all be filled with joy in the gospel of Christ. May you welcome, filled with hope, the even heavier cross and more difficult lives that lie ahead of you. — Li Yingqiang, Elder of Early Rain Covenant Church

Joy is not like happiness. It does not fade with worsening circumstances.
Joy is the necessary fuel that is produced in the midst of, and carries us through, pain.
Joy burns differently and is inextinguishable.
Joy is what Christ saw ahead of him when he looked past the suffering of the cross to the future.
Joy is ours when we also look past our sufferings.

What are we waiting for?
Advent’s path to joy passes through trials, arrests, suffering, and the cross. Let us follow Christ.

Prayer: The Greeting
My lips will sing with joy when I play to you, and so will my soul, which you have redeemed.  — Psalm 71:23

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Zechariah 5 (Listen – 1:35)
John 8 (Listen – 7:33)

Additional Reading
Read More about Prayer for the Church from Indonesia :: Worldwide 
Make us mindful, that others of your Church today
eat the bread in secret, for fear of persecution,
and drink the cup in whispers, for fear of death.
For them, our sisters and brothers, we pray
that your spirit will watch over them with a mighty arm
that your joy may be complete in them
and that their hope in you may be realized in power and grace.

Read More about Jeremiah, the Unpatriotic Prophet
The most patriotic thing Christians can do is see the problems of our nation and speak the gospel to them. Let them throw us in a cistern like Jeremiah. Let them burn our words rather than listen to them. May we be faithful to Christ and his kingdom alone.

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