THE NEED FOR THE ALTAR, ALERTNESS, AND THE PROPHETS
The returned ones did not firstly rebuild the temple; they firstly rebuilt the altar (Ezra 3:1-6). In order to have the rebuilding of the church life, we need first to have an absolute consecration. Before building up the church, first set up the altar and put all things on it. This sequence is absolutely right. The altar signifies consecration and absoluteness. The altar means that everything is absolutely for the Lord. Put everything on the altar. The altar is not only for the trespass offering; it is mainly for the burnt offering to be offered morning and evening, daily, continually, and willingly. Before a strong church can be built up in a city, the first thing we must rebuild is the altar. We have to put everything on the altar—what we are, what we do, what we are able to do, what we have, and what we are for. We must be definite and absolute to put everything on the altar, reserving nothing for ourselves.
According to Ezra, they first built the altar and offered on it daily, and then they laid the foundation of the temple (vv. 8-13). When the first temple was built, the people rejoiced when it was completed, but with the rebuilt temple, they did not wait until it was completed. At the time when only the foundation was laid, the people became “crazy.” This is because for the rebuilding, the foundation is more important.
After the foundation was laid, the subtle ones came in (4:1-5). Today the situation is the same. We must always be on the alert. Some may come and say that they will help us in the recovery, the rebuilding, of the church. We must be careful to not receive their word too quickly. In Ezra 4, the returned ones told the subtle ones, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves together will build to Jehovah the God of Israel” (v. 3). Some may say that we are too narrow. It is not that we are narrow; it is that we know the subtlety of the enemy. In Ezra 4, the subtle ones were frustrated.
After laying the foundation, the people did not start right away to build the temple. They needed the prophets to come in to help them (5:1-2). Today in principle it is the same. We need to be absolute and on the alert, and we need the prophets to come in to strengthen us.
THE RECOVERY BEING FOR THE LORD’S GLORY, THE ENEMY’S SHAME, AND OUR FULL SATISFACTION
I look to the Lord that we may see that today is a day not of revival but of recovery. The Lord today does not care much for revival. He cares for the recovery. To be recovered means to come back to the spirit, and to come back to the spirit means to come back to the genuine oneness. We must give up anything that divides. Regardless of how good a teaching, gift, or practice may be, as along as it is divisive, we must drop it and come back to the oneness. The divisions are a shame to the Lord and a boast for the enemy. Today we must drop any kind of divisive factor and come back to the spirit to be one. We do not care for any doctrine, practice, or gift. We care only for the oneness in the spirit. This is the way to have the rebuilding of the Lord’s temple. This is the Lord’s recovery, and it is a glory to the Lord and a shame to the enemy. This is also our full satisfaction. We have the full satisfaction in our spirit because we realize that we are in the Lord’s recovery.
Again I say, today is a day of recovery. What we need is not a revival, but a return to the Lord’s recovery. Here and there, in all the big cities in the United States and in all the leading countries on this earth, the Lord will recover His church. This will be a real shame to the enemy, and this will pave the way for the Lord’s coming back. When the church is recovered and rebuilt, the Lord will come back with His glory as the Bridegroom to meet the bride. This is a glory to Him and a real and full satisfaction to us.
(Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)