THE COMING OF THE PROPHETS
It was at this time that the prophets came. “Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.…And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes kings of Persia. And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king” (Ezra 5:1-2; 6:14-15).
The prophets came because the people were weakened and were not in a normal condition. Whenever the Lord raises up the prophets, that is a proof that the situation is not normal. In the normal situation there is no need of the prophets, but just the priesthood and the kingship—these two are sufficient. But in Ezra the situation became abnormal, so there was the need of the prophet. When the purpose of the building up of the house of God was frustrated, God raised up Haggai and Zechariah. And even Zechariah was a priest-prophet. This kind of prophet must be related to the priesthood.
When we are frustrated from the rebuilding of the house of God, we need the strengthening of the prophets. In all the books of God’s recovery, you will find that there is not much teaching or different kinds of opinions and concepts. This is why I love these books. These books show us that when the people returned, they did not bring back these things. They were so simple. But because they were weak and related to the world, they needed the help of the prophets to be strengthened and separated from the world.
Today we must all realize that in the recovery of the church life we do not need much teaching. What we need is the priesthood and the kingship, the altar, and the real foundation of Christ. The church life is built upon nothing but Christ. Do not think that when the prophets came they gave many teachings. No, they strengthened the hands of the people to carry on the recovery in a proper way. We must all learn to be so simple and drop all our opinions and concepts. We must leave the teachings and simply come together under the divine authority to lay the foundation of the unique Christ.
We must be careful and strong not to be cheated by the subtle proposal of others to come and help us. There is no help from that source. We must be clear that regardless of what people say about us, we know what we are doing. And we know that we are absolute for the recovery. We are not good for anything else.
In the past years I have been criticized very much. Many times when I was in Taiwan, friends came to rebuke me: “Brother Lee, we know you do not care for anything but the local churches. You are building up a local church sect.” This is what they said. I never argued; I just nodded my head. I said, “Brother, you are one hundred percent right. I am here for nothing but the local church. I am sold, wrecked, and spoiled for Christ and the church. Don’t expect me to come to help you. If I did, I would cause you much trouble. Save your time and mine also.” I was very frank to speak the truth.
Some of the missionaries in China said, “That is a marvelous piece of work, but.…” There is a big “but.” To them, the “but” is like a dead fly in the ointment. What is the dead fly? The church ground. Some have said to me that if I would not say anything about the ground I would become a wonderful and popular speaker. But I told them that I do not like to be so popular and wonderful. I like to be faithful and speak about the ground!
Some say, “Brother Lee, why must you offend others? Just preach Christ—that is sufficient. Why do you have to speak about the ground? This really offends people.” I said, “I know I offend you, because you came here to build up the Presbyterian Church, and I am for the local church. Your aim is to build up a missionary church, and our goal is to build up the local church. How can I please you?”
If we do not take the Lord’s way today to build up the local church, what shall we do? There is no way to go on. In 1933, when I was raised up by the Lord in this way, I was much criticized. Even my dearest friends became so antagonistic to me. It was really a burden. Then I went to the Lord and became so clear. I said to myself, If I am going to be a human being, I must be a Christian. Otherwise, it is better for me to die. There is no need to be a man without being a Christian. And if I am going to be a Christian, I must take the way of the local ground. If I do not take the way of the local church, I have no way. It is better for me to quit being a Christian. It is so simple.
Your own experiences will prove that unless you see the local church, you will never be satisfied. Something deep within you tells you that there is something missing until the day you come to the local church. Then you have the sense that you are home. Why? Because you are home! If you are not home, you simply feel that you are lacking something. Brothers, there is no other way. If we do not take the local church, there is no need for us to set up a meeting at any other place. That is meaningless. If we do not take the local church, why must we have another meeting? There are so many Christian groups already—why not go and join them? You may say that it is rather difficult to work together with them and that it is better to start another meeting. If this is so, then you are really sectarian! If you do not have the intention to join the local church, I would advise you to go back to join some Christian group. There is no need to set up some other kind of meeting. That is really meaningless.
Bring these matters to the Lord and you will say, “Lord, from now on, I am good for nothing but the local church. I do not know anything but the local church.” The Lord will honor this kind of prayer. Look at the situation of the recovery in ancient days. Those people who returned seemed so foolish. They did not know anything and they did not care for anything but the recovery of the building up of the house of God. This is exactly what we must do. We must be for nothing but the recovery of the building up of the local churches.
(The Recovery of God's House and God's City, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)