Daily Reflections January 6, 2017
In chapter 6 we witness the completion of the temple. The Scripture says:
14 They finished their building by decree of the God of Israel and by decree of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia; 15 and this house was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.
16 And the people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. (Ezra 6:14–16 ESV)
The specifics of how it came to be completed offer several important reminders and assurances. Recall that in chapter 5 a letter was sent by the opponents of the work to the authorities in the capitol. The letter challenged the right of the Jewish returnees to build the temple. Hadn’t the temple been a source of rebellion in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, they asked? The work stalled while the people awaited an answer. God’s people often feel at the mercy of greater forces but the truth is that God is Sovereign over them all! The records are checked and their mandate to rebuild confirmed with the result that the new king orders the work completed at the government’s expense! What the enemy meant for harm, God turned to the good!
The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will. (Proverbs 21:1 ESV)
Acts 6 continues the story of the growth of the early church. As they grew a need emerged for an additional layer of leadership. The Apostles understood their job very clearly:
“It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.” (Acts 6:2 ESV)
Good leaders know that they can’t be involved with everything. The food ministry was important but it was not more important than the ministry of the Word. Therefore the church created a new sort of leader, focused on the oversight of the food ministry. We tend to refer to this type of leader as “a deacon”. The word comes from the Greek word for “servant” or “waiter”.
The principle in this story is NOT that ministers of the Word are too high and mighty to peel potatoes - rather the message seems to be that it will take several different types of leader to effectively manage the ministries of a growing church. Some will see to the spiritual food and others will see to the physical food. We should do as we are called and we should do as we are gifted and may God alone be glorified!
Pastor Paul Carter