The Four Carpenters
We are living in a time of unanswered questions. All around us, both in the World and in the Church there are many asking questions. The Politicians have no answers, the Economists have no answers, The Business and Commercial world have no answers, and most surprisingly of all, the Church too seem to have no answers. You see the problems we are facing Globally, are Gigantic problems that are bigger than men, and when we find ourselves facing such problems, there is only one place to look for the answers. That place is undoubtedly the Word of God. Many people are asking me “how do you know that these things of which you speak will happen?“ And I reply “I have read the end of the Story” That Story is His Story, and the end of Gods Story is what we need to focus our attention on right now. Challenge your Pastors, Priests and Preachers to get back to the Bible and give you the answers, and if they won’t,
then search for them yourself.
My Sermon today entitled “The Four Carpenters” focuses on Zechariah 1, and those who the Prophet saw “prophetically” as the repairing and restoring carpenters of God, employed in the rebuilding of the broken down Sanctuary, or Temple, the house of God. I am also focusing on our other Scripture in today’s service from Psalm 74 which is most likely in reference to Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion; when Babylon overthrew the nation of Israel and destroyed the Temple, and what the psalmist is speaking of in Psalm 74, is likely his own eye-witness account, for the whole psalm is a passion plea from a broken heart.
The Psalmist is broken hearted by the fall of the house of God.
Oh that God would break our hearts over the falling and failing of the people of God in these latter days. Jeremiah 23:29 reads “is not my word like the fire; says the Lord and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” In other words God is asking does not MY WORD cause a passion to turn around, turn away from evil and head back to the paths and places of righteousness? Shouldn’t it – His word prompt us to move from the impossible to the possible, creating the kind of faith that will cause us to move away from the natural and into the supernatural to establish a testimony to Gods glory?
Luke 24 talks about some men on the road to Emmaus. They had thought all hope had gone as they had witnessed the Crucifixion of their friend; – and all of a sudden, a stranger walks with them, and Jesus begins to unlock the Scriptures and with that unlocks their thinking and opens their eyes. In the midst of distress and darkness Jesus can turn us around in our tracks and bring victory out of seeming defeat! Gods word can give us life, for his word is life. Does this word I preach stir your heart? If not, then I am failing you. If this word preached does not produce something of faith in your life then I am moving only in the natural and not in the spiritual. I would not want to be sitting up in any church at any time listening to words that did not stir my heart and motivate my life for good and for God. Nothing in the natural will ever bring you into victory, for victory is in the supernatural.
This is why the book of Jeremiah says “ I am against those prophets that steal my words everyone from his neighbour” Jer 23:30. These are they that stand in pulpits and move the people of God away from the supernatural and the spiritual and into
the natural. Those who preach an “imitation” Gospel, which looks good, looks like it could bring victory but instead leaves the majority struggling, trying, confused and ignorant, and never coming to the knowledge of the truth. Its “Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord.” The life of Christ can only be lived in the power of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of the Supernatural.
That’s the message of Pentecost. If the first Church members 120 of them, needed tongues of fire, do you really imagine that we could get the job done without the same, nowadays?
We need the supernatural tongue to touch the natural tongue otherwise my words as a Preacher are just words
and not “life” as they are supposed to be.
Psalm 74 deals with the tragedy of handling carelessly the Word of God. Tragedy is always the end result when any nation, any people take lightly the warnings of God. In many of our Churches, it is not the voice of God but the voice of a Man or a Woman, that gives the lead. Jesus said “my sheep know my voice” (John 10:27) we know the joyful sound; you know when God speaks, don’t sit under or settle for anything less.
In Psalm 74 verse 5, we read of the time when God was building the house, (speaking of Solomon’s time) a fame that was brought to God through these chosen people and their sovereign incredible skills and ability. Everything they touched reflected the glory of God. We have seen that in generations past ourselves. Many of you listening today, have known Men & Woman of God, great Bible teachers and preachers who were anointed when it came to their pulpit ability to present Jesus Christ. You knew to look at them and listen to them that the Glory of God was all over them. You remember those seasons, but nowadays there is a strange and foreign sound rumbling under our Church roofs, and with the hammers of their own ideologies and theologies, they are destroying the very fabric of Gods house, breaking down all the heavenly and holy things we hold precious and sacred.
The Psalmist was watching a similar wind of change coming into Solomon’s temple, this place where once Gods presence and glory was evident. A place where the stranger would come and have his questions answered. Where the widow would come in and find her provision, where the defeated could find victory, … where the very walls reflected Gods Glory. On the walls workmen had carved Cherubs – a type of the heavenly, the light source, causing the people to look higher. Painted Palm trees represented rest and provision. Also open flowers carved on the walls – a type of the message of God to all humanity from the God who can make the desert blossom, who could take a dry stick like Aaron’s rod and cause it to bloom? This was the message of that one time Holy place, that it was not of Man but all of God. Now the Psalmist sees these unskilled workers, with all of their new songs, all of their new ideas, their human resources, sees them destroying the very fabric of the house; v 7 says they are casting fire into the Sanctuary bringing Gods name down to the ground, they have defiled it and taken the victory away from the house of God.
We too live in a generation where so called hammers of political correctness, have smashed the work of the Cross,
and removed the preaching and the power of the blood;
and counselled us that we need to refashion Christ, and change the message of the Gospel to suit our multi-faith culture and our
modern-focused man. But NO, God does not change and we dare not try to change God for anyone. Jesus Christ is the same “yesterday, today and forever”. The Bible says in
Jeremiah 23:32 “they cause my people to err by their lies and by their likeness”. We have become as the German Preacher Reinhard Bonkee calls it to “A Coffee & Cake Church”? Indeed I heard a few days ago about a Church not far from here who are abandoning the normal morning service, for what they are calling a “Cafe Church” – where the Church halls have been turned into a kind of restaurant/coffee bar. Jesus Christ is no longer attractive enough on his own, so they believe they must add him to a menu? God have mercy on us!
Thank God we are not going to finish in this confused and contrary fashion. There is a change coming; for I believe the time is upon us when God is about to say “Enough; My Glory is not staying in the hands of my enemies any longer”. Now the same Author, the same Psalmist in Psalm 78, three short Psalms away, … says in verse 61, that there was a breakdown amongst the people of God? Those who are supposed to be leading the church are falling like flies, and few seem to care. Did you know that 15 hundred pastors a month in North America are quitting – standing down, retiring from their posts under the stresses and strains of the work. Other Church officials are left trying to pick up the peaces of broken men and broken ministries. The Devil knows his time is short. Pray for those of us who are called to so great a task.
Look at what the Psalmist says in Psalm 78:v65 “Then the Lord awakened like one out of sleep.” (God has been stirred) v66 says “he smote his enemies …. so swiftly … that they did not
have time to turn around. Verse 69, says “He built his Sanctuary … and chose David” This my dear friends is the motivation that moves me today to bring you these messages. This scripture is my personal clarion call to service.
As I have said on these programmes many times recently, we are living in the season of the last days. We are not as a Church going out with a whisper, we are going out with a shout!
We are not going out in defeat (as many expect) but we are going out in Victory … and coming back in Glory!
Turn again to Zechariah Chapter One. Here is a prophet who was raised up (with Haggai also) to help the people who had returned to rebuild the Temple, as we have seen mentioned in Psalm 74. Look at v14 where he says “I am jealous for Jerusalem & Zion …. and displeased with the heathen that are at ease” God has always had to chastise his church when we have carelessly handled the things of God. The theological focus of more recent decades has left the people short changed, of what they could be, but God is going to rebuild his Temple and build it His way.
Then the Prophet sees something remarkable, here in verse 18,
he sees 4 horns. (these are actually Four Gentile Empires but I am not going to take time to go into all of that today, but these are the powers that have over the centuries have destroyed the testimony of God – weakened the true Gospel and destroyed the true faith of Christ’s Church) Then look at verse 20 “then The Lord showed me 4 Carpenters” The Lord is saying to Zechariah … these powers did so much damage, but here come 4 carpenters to cast them out, to throw them out, and make good
what others have destroyed. Any fool with a hammer can create mayhem and madness, but it takes a Carpenter to create a Masterpiece. Why did God show Zechariah these Carpenters? Is there any significance in the vision of a carpenter? Ask yourself the question – Who died on a Cross, and what was his occupation? Jesus was the son of a carpenter, and a carpenter himself, and only a carpenter or the son of a carpenter can know the toil and trouble that goes into a great work. Jesus knew all about wood and nails, Jesus knew how to make good what Satan had destroyed, and what a toil and trouble that was. Jesus the carpenter has already destroyed all the devils works – when He died on the Cross. These Carpenters are clearly, and obviously followers of Jesus Christ. (Oh and incidentally, just that you should know it – I too, am a carpenters son!)
You may well be asking “How are these Carpenters, these God appointed and anointed ones, going to rebuild Gods House, re-establish Gods Glory? Well, we find the answer in Psalm 74: from v12 where the writer says amongst other things “Arise oh God and plead your own cause” Ezek 26:22 says “I do it for my holy names sake” God promises – I will wash you, put my Spirit on you, raise you up out of obscurity, … pray and I will answer you, not for your sake but for mine. In other words, God is saying to His Church today, I have a work to do, and I will do it, and when it is done, we will all know “it was the Lords doing and marvellous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23 & Mark 12:11)
A similar picture is painted for us in Acts 4 (let me paraphrase it) here is a picture of the NT Church which at this point had been brought into a type of captivity by the religious order of the day. Peter and John and the rest had been brought in and told
“this is how it’s done here, this is our way,- do it our way” It was all about religion, methodology, all about the best seats, the privileges and power of the religious hierarchy. The Church was walking in natural strength, natural reasoning – they had lost touch with God, they knew nothing about the power of God. Does any of that look familiar?
The reason why I cannot continue to be part of a dead religion, is because I want none of that. If I am to build and rebuild the house of God which is falling down, then I know I cannot do it, God must do it through me! It is my prayer that
God Almighty through me might stretch forth his hand and heal, not just the healing of the physical ailments, but the healing of hopelessness, lethargy, confusion, and so on, heal through my life, my preaching, my living and loving. I pray that God will give me words that go right to the core of the problems and the prisons of the human mind. and that through my life, like that of Peter & John, signs and wonders will be done in Jesus name.
It will be by the word, the preaching of the word, the living of the word that we bring Gods name to Glory again. To have the word on our lips and in our hearts. There has got to be something in us that rises to this task, this hour and this occasion. If I am a carpenter, then I am going to build.
I don’t care if the call takes me to places where there are only heaps or mounds of rubble and old derelict, deserted and dark places.
I am going to build, not in my own strength, but by the power of God. Jesus Christ will once again have a Church – a place of the
supernatural where the lonely find a friend and a family, where the children sing again in the house, where the hungry soul finds food and the broken hearted find healing. Where the men in the Pulpits have the Spirit of God in the Lives, the Love of God in their Hearts, the Word of God in their Mouths and the Power of God in their Hands. This is the Church, this has always been the Church, this will always be the Church, but we have allowed it to be broken down and we must build it up again. Jesus will have his Church in this day and generation. Hallelujah. There will be a Church that will scatter those Kingdoms and empires that have scattered the Church.
We will offer and give to the broken something of beauty:- beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. From Him flows a river of living water, but my roots (your roots) must go down deeper if we are to stand in the most difficult places and in the most dark days.
People shouldn’t be coming to Church because of the eloquence or lack of it, in the preacher – but they should be coming to hear the Word of God and to see the Glory of God. When did you last see the glory of God? Many of our Church Buildings are fine, beautiful structures, furnished and fitted to the highest standard and so warm and cosy that many fall asleep during the sermon. Yet in Gods sight these great and grand structures lie in spiritual ruin. Those who frequent them are often old and tired of the drudgery of religious duty. The sun no longer shines in at the windows, and the cemetery is its only living testimony… “here lie our dead” !
We have seen Christ’s one time beautiful Church broken down by the hammers of the wreckers who have told us that Jesus is no longer attractive on his own, we must annex our buildings with
Leisure facilities, Swimming pools and Squash courts in order to pull in the crowds. But not any longer, God has spoken …
“Enough is enough”
Now this final Word
When they ask you, “What do you do for a living?” Tell them
“I am a carpenter – a builder, Jesus has built me so that I can rebuild others.”
Paul tells us that TWO of the identifying marks of the early Church were Great Power and Great Grace. This has to be what God wants for the Church in this generation. Darkness, gross Darkness is here, it has descended on the whole world and also on the whole Church, but the Spirit of the Lord can raise up a standard, a light to destroy that darkness. You and I are in the plan, there is no other, we are called by God to build the ruins, restore the beauty, replenish the fountains and repair the breaches.
It is not going to be about us, it has to be all about Him. We are but the carpenters, he is the King of the Palace, and the place. Do not limit Him, remember
“God can furnish a table in this wilderness?”
Yes He Can. Amen.