The Recovery of God's House and God's City, by Witness Lee


After the foundation was laid, something happened. The laying of the foundation disturbed the adversaries. They realized that something really serious had occurred, so they came in a subtle way. “Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel; then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them. ‘Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither.’ But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, ‘Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.’ Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus the king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius, king of Persia” (Ezra 4:1-5).

In the past years we also have heard this kind of saying again and again: “Brother, let us work together with you. We are the same as you are.” Whoever says, “We are the same as you are,” is not the same. If he were the same, there would be no need for him to say so. He would simply come to be one with you. We must not be cheated.

In the Far East, some missionaries came to me and said, “Brother, let us help one another. We are the same as you are. You have given up denominations, and we are non- denominational.” But I had to say “Brother, you are not the same as we are.” Then I pointed out what they were and what we were. This is a subtle frustration of the enemy. In the Lord’s recovery, we should never have any mixture. It must be one hundred percent pure. If we take this way, be prepared for people to say that we are narrow. We all need to be so narrow. To try to be broad is a subtlety of the enemy.

Who were the people who said that we seek God as you do? They were those who were very close to Jerusalem. The closest ones are the most troublesome ones. Do not listen to this kind of saying: “We are the same as you are.” We rejected this kind of subtle proposal; so immediately the opposition came. If we are clear about the Lord’s recovery, we must be sold for this one thing and nothing else. Since we are spoiled for the recovery, we are good for nothing else. We cannot work together with others who are very close, yet so different, because the Lord’s recovery is unique.

Let us look at the situation. There was Jerusalem, Egypt, Syria, and Babylon. No doubt there was much work for God in Babylon. They built many synagogues, and they did much work to bring people to know God and the law of Moses. And I believe there were good works even in Syria and Egypt. Those who said, “We seek your God as you do,” had been brought from Syria to a place close to Jerusalem. I believe they were the ancestors of the Samaritans. In John 4 we see that the Samaritans spoke much about worshipping God.

Suppose you were an Israelite in Jerusalem. Those who were close by might say, “Why must you be so peculiar? So many here are devoted people of God, and they love you. Why would you not stay with them? You say that you must go to Jerusalem, but isn’t this too narrow? You only have twelve meeting with you, and they have twelve thousand! Why don’t you stay with the twelve thousand? Why go back to the twelve?” If you were not so clear, you would immediately be confused. You would even speak to others and ask, “What are we doing here when there are so many dear ones who are not in Jerusalem? Why don’t we go and join them? Why should we keep our small group here?” If you were not clear, you would be brought away from Jerusalem.

There is much work for God here in this place, and there in that place. And it is very close to the recovery too. It is not something in Babylon, Syria, or Egypt, but near to Jerusalem. They even say that they are the same as you are. Then what will you say? I am afraid that you may think that the Lord has sent you some helpers. But these are not helpers, they are frustrators. One brother might say, “Praise the Lord, these people are not in Syria, or in Egypt, or Babylon, and they are so close to us. If we just help them a little, they will be brought in.” But they will help you a little to be brought out! Do not say that they are so close. Their subtlety is to come in to bring you out. You must build up the wall and close the door. I know the subtle one will say that this is narrow and sectarian. But we must know what it means to be sectarian. To be sectarian is absolutely a matter of the ground. If you are in Jerusalem you can never be sectarian. But if you are not on the proper ground, regardless of how broad and all-inclusive you are, you are still sectarian. As long as you are in Babylon, no matter how broad you are, you are divisive because you are standing on divisive ground. As long as we are on the proper ground, we are standing for the unique unity which is for all the children of God.

It was not the subtlety that stopped the building work, it was the opposition. The opposition began because they were not absolute. They were clear, but they were not absolute. Because they were clear they could not be stopped by the subtle proposal, but because they were not absolute and strong, they were stopped by the opposition. “Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power. Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia” (Ezra 4:23-24).

(The Recovery of God's House and God's City, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)