God Will Rebuild What Is Exposed
In a previous article “God’s vision is for all” – Isaiah 54:1–10 reveals how the prophet Isaiah spoke prophetically to the Jews. He addresses three types of people, representing three different spiritual states – the spiritually barren; the widowed; and the wife who feels deserted and distressed. Through Isaiah, God gives them many powerful promises for what He is about to do in their lives in the future. This passage is also true for us as believers in Christ today and our restoration happens as we continue to look to him.
The remainder of Isaiah 54 uses the analogy or picture of an afflicted city, without comfort and lashed by storms. During a storm, buildings are often Stripped of their outer coverings or facades so that their internal structure is exposed, and The strength of their foundations determines whether they are still able to stand. This can also be like us, when we have been broken down by sin or life’s trials. And just like the facades that are removed by the storm, when what we have built our lives upon has been exposed, we may discover that some of what we have been building with has been wrong, making us weak and vulnerable to the enemy. Or in many cases, because of the difficulties we have faced, we need time to recover, to be comforted and be rebuilt by God. God wants to rebuild us with His beauty and His strength. And as we allow God to do the rebuilding, or weak areas become strong. In the following passage of scripture, Isaiah describes the figurative beauty with which God promises to restore and rebuild us when we look to Him – with stones of turquoise, sapphires, rubies, sparkling jewels and precious stones.
“Oh afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.”.(Isaiah 54:11 & 12)
In this scripture God speaks of the rebuilding of our foundations – or what we have built our lives upon. He speaks about our battlements – the things that we run to for protection and where we stand watch for attack; and our gates, or what we let have access into or out of our lives. Lastly He speaks of our walls – representing the things that we look to for strength or support. The restoration of the city itself is to be rebuilt with stones of turquoise – a rare and beautiful stone. Just like this rare stone, each one of us is unique – a one of a kind. Each one of us is beautiful and precious to God.
Our Foundation is in Christ
The foundations of our lives by necessity are always the starting point of our lives. But when the foundations are weak, the building that follows will always be unstable. God must first remove old weak foundations in order to build what is new and strong. That is why Christ tells us we must be born again (by receiving Christ) to enter the Kingdom of God. By being born again of His Spirit, we are given a brand new start.
“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at My saying, ‘you must be born again”.(John 3:5–7)
In the Old Testament, when the temple of the Lord was being rebuilt, the people wept aloud and gave shouts of praise, as soon as the foundations had been laid (See Ezra 3:11 & 12). In the same way there is also great rejoicing in heaven when even one person comes to believe in Christ, even though their new life has only just begun.
“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents”.(Luke 15:10)
By God’s grace, the Apostle Paul was careful to lay only the sure foundation of Jesus Christ.
“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ”.(1 Corinthians 3:9–11)
Lay Your Foundations Deep
You can tell the size that a building is going to be, by the depth of the foundations that are being laid. The bigger the building – the deeper the foundations must go. Work goes on unseen for a long time at the level of the foundations. But once those foundations have been made, the building goes up in a comparatively short space of time. That is true of the work that God must do in us. It may often appear on the surface that nothing is happening in our lives to bring us to where God wants us to be, but every day of our lives is preparation. As we continue to look to Him, God is at work in our hearts and in our attitudes; all the while He is conforming us to the knowledge of Christ and making us more like him. Because He knows the works He has prepared in advance for us to do, He knows how deep our foundations need to go. Trust that as long as you keep looking to Him, that no matter how long things seem to be taking, God will complete any foundational work in you that needs to be made.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.(Ephesians 2:10)
- Laying deep foundations will take time.
- We are God’s workmanship – being made to be more like Him.
- Just as you began – continue in Him
Just as we have begun in Christ, we need to make sure that we continue to build on Him. We need to guard against being distracted or enticed away to other things, or to other spirits that are not of Him. There are many counterfeits that have an outward appearance of good – but that are of a different spirit other than the one we have received in Christ. Christ’s Spirit puts God first and denies self. It is humble, sacrificial and devoted to serving others. Thankfulness is the key to enjoying the liberty of relationship with the Father that comes only through the grace of Christ.
Counterfeit spirits focus on self. They are self–pleasing, self–important, self–promoting at the expense of others, and have their acceptance based in self–works. Ungrateful for the simplicity found only in the finished work of Christ – they may add extra rules, requirements, ‘special revelations’ or experiences, in order to be ‘better’ than others, or to become closer to, or more acceptable to Christ. They are a poor attempt at trying to replace the finished work of Christ.
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ”.(Colossians 2:6–8)
“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough”.(2 Corinthians 11:3–4)
Be a Doer of the Word
Sometimes the reason we struggle in life or are continually tossed about by life’s storms, is because we are not putting into practice the things that God has already shown us. Storms in this life will inevitably come – and when they do, we must be able to stand. The temple that King Solomon built for the Lord was solid; with large high grade dressed stones as its foundations (see 1 King 5:17). Today, it is we who are God’s temple or God’s house, and His Holy Spirit lives within us. Jesus said that the man who hears His words and puts them into practice is like someone who has dug down deep and laid his foundations on a rock. So that when the floods come, his house will not be shaken. The one who hears, but does not put His words into practice is like a house without a foundation; so that when the flood comes, its destruction will be complete.
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete”.(Luke 6:46–49)
- God wants us not just to listen, but to do what He says.
- Doing what God tells us to do, gives us confidence.
- We have assurance that we will survive the times of storm.
- God is our rest and our defence
The rebuilding of the battlements represents God’s rebuilding of those places that we run to for protection, rest or comfort; or to defend ourselves when under attack. When we look to God to be our defence, He will intervene in our circumstances and act on our behalf, in ways we cannot foresee.
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, ‘destroy him!”.(Deuteronomy 33:27)
God says that we are also to find our refuge, comfort and rest in Him, but sometimes we do not listen. When we do not listen, God gives us over to serve the counterfeits that we choose and we end up in bondage to those things.
“To whom He said, ‘This is the resting place, let the weary rest;’ and, ‘This is the place of repose’ – but they would not listen. So then, the Word of the Lord to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there– so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured”.(Isaiah 28:12 & 13)
After King Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam became king of Judah, but he abandoned the law of the Lord. Shishak, king of Egypt, then attacked Jerusalem. Because of Israel’s disobedience in turning away from the things of the Lord, God gave Jerusalem over to Shishak, and made Israel subject to him. God never delights in seeing His people go into bondage and servitude to other things, but just like the people of Israel, He allows us the freedom to choose. But because He loves us, He wants us to learn the difference between serving other kingdoms, and serving Him. We then learn that only in serving God will we enjoy true freedom, and God’s desire is that we will turn back to Him.
“When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, this Word of the Lord came to Shemaiah: Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving Me and serving the kings of other lands”.(2 Chronicles 12:7 & 8)
Look to the Life God Gives
When the things that we run to for protection or that we look to for comforts don’t include God, they shut out the life of God. Shutting out the life that God wants to bring into our situation is like making a covenant or agreement with death. When we look to our own devices instead of looking to God, we end up making a lie our refuge, instead of the truth that is found in Him. Through deception we wrongly believe, that these counterfeit ways will bring us lasting comfort or will keep us safe from harm.
“You boast, ‘We have entered into a covenant with death, with the grave we have made an agreement. When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us, for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place”.(Isaiah 28:15)
But God warns us that anything other than turning to Him for the protection and comfort He provides will not help us, because every other (false) refuge will be swept away in the storms that we face. There is no lasting protection, rest or comfort when we are not looking to Him.
“Hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place. Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the grave will not stand. When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it. As often as it comes it will carry you away; morning after morning, by day and by night, it will sweep through. The understanding of this message will bring sheer terror. The bed is too short to stretch out on – (no real rest), the blanket too narrow to wrap around you” (no real comfort).(Isaiah 28:17–20)
The good news is that when we look to Christ, we look to life and we will never be dismayed; but will find the protection, comfort and rest that we need. Our battlements will then be built on the security that is found in Him. The measuring line and plumb line that God uses to rebuild those battlements are the righteousness and truth that are found in Him, and the enemy will be unable to reach us.
“So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed. I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line”.(Isaiah 28:16 & 17)
As God rebuilds His church He is preparing His bride. Not a disjointed bride that is tattered or in pieces, or a bride that is battered and bruised – but a bride that is united, whole and restored. In Isaiah 54:12, God promises to rebuild the battlements of our lives with stones of rubies. Figuratively, our battlements represent those places that we run to for comfort, rest or protection, or to defend ourselves when under attack. They also represent the place where we stand watch for attack, so that when the enemy approaches, we are already forewarned and fully armed. Jesus taught His disciples to be alert, and to keep praying for all the saints, and to watch and pray so that they would not fall into temptation.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints”.(Ephesians 6:18)
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak”.(Matthew 26:41)
Just as in the time of Nehemiah when the Israelites were rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls, Satan does not want our walls to be rebuilt. It is in these times of growth or rebuilding that attacks or threats of intimidation are prone to come.
“But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it”.(Nehemiah 4:7 & 8)
Nehemiah posted extra lookouts at the weak places in the walls and we should do the same. We should be especially watchful in the places of our vulnerability or in the direction from which past attacks have been known to come.
“Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows”.(Nehemiah 4:13)
- When threats come, God gives us strategy.
- Standing together as one family gives us strength.
Stand Watch for One Another
Our enemy does not sleep and will choose opportune times in which to attack. This may be when we are exhausted, or have become complacent or are less attentive for his attacks. A careful watchman never leaves their post, but remains watchful both day and night.
“But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat”.(Nehemiah 4:9)
A watchman with God’s help, will also see in the spirit, difficulties or attacks that are about to come. And when the watchmen sound the alarm – reinforcements run to their aid.
“The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there”.(Nehemiah 4:19 & 20)
The Apostle Peter said, “Be self–controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings”.(1 Peter 5:8 & 9)
- Be alert at all times and stand watch in prayer.
- Be watchful for one another.
- Know when to sound the alarm, and when to ask for help.
- Run to each other’s aid.
Unity in the Body Of Christ
Like strongly built walls – great strength and support are found in the Body of Christ. A body focussed on being in unity becomes a united city, impervious to attack – A precious anointing flows from the place of unity and we are blessed as a result.
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore”.(Psalm 133)
In a body focused on unity, accountability is not a threat, but a safeguard.
The early disciples built themselves up by devoting themselves to meeting together on a regular basis, to the teaching of the Apostles (now found in the New Testament of the Bible), fellowshipping with one another, breaking bread (remembering the Lord’s death and resurrection through the emblems of bread and wine) and to prayer. And as they met like this, many miracles took place. We, too, must make sure that we do the same. When we neglect any of these things, our walls become weak and we become disjointed from one another. God wants us to continue to do these things more and more, so that we are built together like a wall of living stones.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles”.(Acts 2:42 & 43)
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching”.(Hebrews 10:25)
“You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”.(1 Peter 2:5)
Watch Your Words
Our words are either our most powerful weapon, or our greatest defence. They hold the power of life and death. Every time we open our mouths, we are making a choice. Our words are like seeds, and those seeds produce fruit. The fruit of our words are seen as visible outcomes in our lives.
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit”.(Proverbs 18:21)
Make good your confession – for you will have what you say!
God’s will is that we use His Word as a spiritual weapon against the enemy and in defence of the body of Christ.
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”.(Ephesians 6:17)
Satan’s plan is to divide and conquer. So when the words we use are divisive – being used against each other in the body of Christ – In our folly we are directing the enemy to our places of weakness. It is like declaring out loud to the enemy:
Weak Place in the Wall Over Here!!
And at our open invitation – the enemy responds to our call!
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be”.(James 3:9 & 10)
We All Will Have Our Day in Court
One day we will give an account for the careless words we have spoken. By our words we will either be Acquitted or we will be Condemned. All the time we are choosing: Life or death; acquitted or condemned.
“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned”.(Matthew 12:36 & 37)
We need to carefully guard those things that come out of our mouths, lest we be used by the enemy to undermine God’s rebuilding of the wall. By our words we are either agreeing with God or we are disagreeing. We are either building up, or we are tearing down.
“Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall”.(Luke 11:17)
We need to be using our words to build up the places of weakness in the wall, building stone upon stone, until what was once broken down, becomes a fortified wall.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”.(Ephesians 4:29 – 32)
Guard Your Heart
Our gates represent the entry and exit points of our hearts. They determine what we allow into our hearts and what comes out. What we allow through our eyes, our ears and our mouths, affects our actions and the decisions that we make. King Solomon instructed his son,
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”.(Proverbs 4:23)
Solomon’s instruction was for his son to carefully guard the words of his mouth. To make sure that his speech was in line with the Word of God. And just as Solomon instructed his son, anything that deviates from or distorts the truth of God’s Word, should not be allowed out of our mouths. Speaking out our fears or confessing what is contrary to the Word of God, undermines both our own faith and the faith of those who hear us.
“Put away perversity (distorted words) from your mouth; keep corrupt (deviated or crooked) talk far from your lips” .(Proverbs 4:24)
Solomon also instructed his son to fix his eyes straight ahead!
Our feet follow our eyes and can cause us to stumble in our walk.
Knowing where God is leading us; choosing to fix our eyes on His path; and not allowing ourselves to be enticed away or distracted by other things, ensures that we walk in only ways that are firm. Making the choice not to deviate even slightly from this path will keep our feet from evil.
“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil”.(Proverbs 4:25–27)
Like strongly built gates, exercising wise discernment will keep us safe from error and harm. Gates like these are unyielding and do not give way under pressure. Letting in only what is tested and proven and lining–up with the Word of God, they are watchful for counterfeits that come in disguise.
Our Heritage is Great as Servants in the Lord
As God completes this work in our lives, the effect is generational. God promises that our children will be taught by Him and that they will know His peace. We will be established in His righteousness, and we will know no fear. Those who attack us will be forced to surrender.
“All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace. In righteousness you will be established: “Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. If anyone does attack you, it will not be My doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you”.(Isaiah 54:13–15)
When we allow God to do the rebuilding in our lives, every weapon the enemy uses against us will fail and every accusing tongue will be turned away. He Himself is our righteousness. This is our great heritage as servants of the Lord.
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord”.(Isaiah 54:17, KJV)