Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 8, 1968
NUMBER 2, PAGE 12-13

"Except Jehovah Build The House"

Elvis Bozarth


Some Bible students believe this 127th Psalm to have been written by King David, the sweet singer of Israel. If so, it would serve as directions to his son, Solomon, in building the Lord's house, the Temple. David wanted to insure that his son would give all glory and honor to God, and that God's directions would be followed, — thus, that the Temple would not be "vain" labor because God would build it. This would put the time of writing about 1025 BC.

2. Other Bible scholars say this Psalm was probably written by one of God's prophets during the return of Israel from Babylonian Captivity to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. If so, the time of writing would be about 500 years later, for the first return was in 536 BC under Zerubbabel. The prophet would likely have been either Haggai or Zechariah, and would have been instructions regarding the rebuilding of the Temple which had been destroyed during the Captivity by Nebuchadnezzar.

3. It can really make little difference to us who the author was or the time in which the Psalm was given. Truth is not concerned with time, and the penman is incidental when we recognize that God's Spirit was directing the writing (II Peter 1:21). We need only to observe the wisdom and authority of God back of it. It is a fundamental truth we must always keep before us as we go about building for the Lord.

Discussion: How Should We Build?

I. By Using The Proper Workmen - Ezra 4:1-6 A. First Return of Israel — After seventy years of captivity (606-536 BC), Cyrus, King of Persia, who had succeeded to the throne of the second world-wide empire (Daniel 2 — The "breast and arms of silver"), decreed that all Jews who desired to return to their homeland in Judah could do so. So that they could rebuild their temple and restore the temple worship, this good king returned to them the sacred vessels stolen by Nebuchadnezzar. So about 50,000 of them returned under Zerubbabel as governor.

B. Laying the Foundation — The next year when the foundation of the temple had been laid, the nations about them observed their seriousness in building upon it. This they didn't like. At first, all this new activity in the City of Jerusalem didn't worry them. They probably thought the people of God would do then like we see them do many times today — start a project with enthusiasm, and then when the work really begins, they lose their enthusiasm. But when the people of God started to build upon the foundation their enemies were stirred up.

C. Method of Opposition — Several choices were before them as to how they could best hinder God's people. But they were clever enough to know that an "inside job" is more effective and harder to detect and stop. So they proposed to join themselves to the Jews as fellow-workmen. If they could get inside the fold of workmen, they might prevent the building altogether, or, if not, they could put inferior workmanship in the superstructure.

D. "We Ourselves" — Zerubbabel was a wise leader. With the others he refused such offers of help from outside God's family — See Verse 3.

E. Practical Observation — We too have enemies about us, who would desire to hinder our building of the Lord's church. They will use every means they can to prevent our building. But the most effective means they could use would be to get among us as "fellow-workmen." A principal reason there is so much doctrinal softness and moral laxity in the church today, is that brethren have not kept on guard against people of the sects entering our fellowship before they are converted to Christ. We have become, in many places, so concerned about the large numbers we ought to have to "keep the church on the march," that we have brought in a large number of unconverted people among us. This applies particularly to the practice of accepting members of the Christian Church into our number by "restoration" rather than by conversion. (This brings up the subject of "valid baptism" which must be an independent study.) Sinners do not get out of a denomination into the Lord's church by shaking the preacher's hand! We can build God's house properly only with the proper workmen. These are those who are genuinely converted to Christ. Keep out the enemies.

11. With God's Help — Ezra 8:21-23

A. Second Return — About 70 years after the first return, Ezra, a "ready scribe," obtained permission to lead a party of about 1500 men plus their families, to their homeland. Before leaving on the four or five months trip, he gathered them all on the River Ahava for fasting and prayer. Ezra was to attempt a religious reformation among his people and he knew he needed God's help to do it.

B. Practical Observation -- We too, must recognize the need for God's help in our efforts to restore New Testament Christianity and to build on the foundation already laid (I Cor. 3:10-11). We can have it for the asking. Each member of the church should pray daily, and include in that prayer, a sincere plea for God's blessings to be upon us. This may sound so simple and elementary that it should not have to be mentioned, but we often neglect the simple and fundamental too often.

III. With "Strong Hands" And "A Mind To Work" -(Nehemiah 2:18-20)

A. Neglect - The enemies of God's people could not get among them to work evil, but they persuaded the King that Israel was up to no good, and the King forbade further work. This discouraged the people and they turned from the Lord's work to their own. For more than fifteen years the temple foundation rested without a superstructure. Then Haggai, the prophet, stirred the people up and they finished the temple in four or five years.

B. Nehemiah -- About seventy years later, Nehemiah, who was "cup-bearer" to King Artaxerxes II, was permitted to return to the homeland of the Jews long enough to build the walls around the city of Jerusalem. When he got there he did not immediately tell of his plans, but looked the situation over from every vantage point about the city. When his plans were complete, then he told the people what he wanted them to do. Their answer presents to us.

C. Practical Observations -

1. "Let us" - The people did not say to Nehemiah, "You have a good proposition. It is a needed work. We hope you are successful." They included themselves in the plans for work.

2. "Strengthened their hand" - They got ready to do the job they were supposed to do. There were no weak hands. We need to study to learn how we can do the job that is before us, that every man may "stand in his place."

3. "Mind to Work" - Nehemiah 4:6. This is the secret of their success. The Hebrew is very emphatic on the word "mind." Their hearts were set to doing the necessary work. This is a requisite to successful building for the Lord anywhere. The following poem was written by sister Daisy Ellen Corbin 12/29/65 after she heard brother Claude Wilsford preach on this text at New Albany, Indiana)

A Mind To Work

The walls of Jerusalem were all broken down And complete desolation reigned;

Her gates all burned, the stones o'er turned And only rubble remained!

Nehemiah wept and prayed - then wasn't afraid To approach his master, the king

For a special favor, with a spiritual flavor That would cause all Israel to sing!

The king gave consent, and Nehemiah went With letters to governors on the way,

And to the forest of Wood, where the king's trees stood To rebuild the palace someday!

The "enemy" mocked, then fought and scorned The workmen upon the wall;

Called them -feeble Jews- and tried to abuse And cause them to stumble and fall!

But Nehemiah prayed, and the others stayed At their post till the close of day,

So the work went along, steady and strong, With faith to shed light on the way!

When all efforts failed, the enemy hailed This stalwart gathering of men,

Asked them to sit down, on a nearby ground To "talk things over- with them!

But Nehemiah refused this deceitful ruse And the offer to compromise,

Stood firm in his God, on His Holy Word, So the "wall- continued to rise!

When the work was wrought and the people taught, As the Book of the Law was read,

They all stood up, and "God filled their cup"

With joy, as they bowed their head!

On this Holy Day, they wept and prayed, And their feast with others shared,

They gladly heard and "understood" the Word And knew their Jehovah still cared!

Yes, each kept his place, as the toil was paced, And there wasn't a one that shirked,

For deep in their heart, they were doing their part,

-For the people had a mind to work.-

IV. With The Divine Blueprint - Ezra 3:10

A. From the beginning of the temple, the people went to the Divine plan to govern their actions. They went to the orders of David, who got them from Moses. Moses instructed all things should be made according to the pattern (Hebrews 8:5).

B. Christ's sermon on building stresses the same point -Matt. 7:21-27.

C. God's building today is the church, and we can be a part of it by following the divine blueprint. Hebrews 3:1-4.

Conclusion 1. "Except Jehovah build the house..."

2. Will you help with "strong hands" and a "mind to work?"

3. Are you enlisted in God's building program?

— 526 N. Poplar Montebellow, Calif.