In the Lord’s recovery, there is the need of the priesthood and the kingship; then there will be something recovered. Ezra 3 tells us that the first thing recovered was the altar. For the recovery of the house we need the recovery of the altar. Without the altar, the house can never be recovered. The altar is the place to offer all things to the Lord. This is the recovery of the real consecration.
According to Ezra 3, they did not offer anything except the burnt offering upon the altar. They did not offer the sin offering, the trespass offering, the peace offering, or any other offering. They only offered the burnt offering. We all know that the burnt offering is for God’s satisfaction. The sin offering is for sins, the trespass offering is for our trespasses, the peace offering is for our peace, the meal offering is for our satisfaction, but the burnt offering is for God’s satisfaction. To recover the house is for God’s satisfaction. The house is not for us to be forgiven; it is not for us to have peace with God; it is not for our enjoyment; it is wholly for God’s satisfaction. Therefore, we must offer nothing but the burnt offering. In other words, we must put all that we have, all that we are, and all that we can do on the altar for God’s satisfaction. This is the start of the church life. Before we can have the church life, we must put everything on the altar. The young people must offer their college degrees and their scholarships, and we all must offer all that we have and are on the altar for God’s satisfaction. Otherwise, it is impossible to recover God’s house.
In some places I have observed that certain brothers like to bear responsibility in the church life, but they are still in the world. They have not put all that they have and are on the altar. We need a consecration to offer everything on the altar for the building up of the local churches.
Many of the churches have a real burden that local seeking ones be added. But eventually, they only have a small number. I tell you frankly that if you will offer everything—what you have, what you can do, and what you are—on the altar, the Lord will bring in the seeking ones. The problem is that we have come back from Babylon to Jerusalem, yet at Jerusalem we still keep many things for our own interest. We would not offer everything on the altar for His interest and for His satisfaction. This is why we need consecration.
In Ezra 3 they offered burnt offerings morning and evening every day. And they offered the burnt offerings continually. All the time there was something burning on the altar. Only this type of consecration can bring about the building up of the churches.
If we really mean business with the Lord, we must offer everything on the altar. Otherwise, we had better go back to Babylon. We should not come back to Jerusalem and yet still maintain our life just as it was in Babylon. The life in Jerusalem must be absolutely for the Lord’s interest. The life in the Lord’s recovery must be absolutely for the recovery of the building up of the churches.
A few of the churches have had little increase. If they mean business with the Lord, they will be desperate to pray, “Lord, give us an increase; otherwise, we will die!” We must make ourselves cold or hot. If we are cold, let us be freezing. If we are hot, let us be so hot that people will say we are crazy. Let people say that we are too much. We all must be so mad, so burning for the local church. If we will be so burning, we will see the increase of the church. We do not care what people say about us; we must be absolutely for the Lord’s recovery.
The first thing to be recovered for the church life is the altar. We all need to recover the altar by praying, “Lord, this day we put upon the altar everything we have, everything we are, and everything we can do. We do it for Your house, Your church.” This is what we need. We need the oneness, we need the priesthood, we need the kingship, and we need the altar. Then the foundation of the temple will be laid for the recovery of the building of the churches.
(The Recovery of God's House and God's City, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)