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The Tree of Life:


A New Church

Chapter 1. The captivity in Babylon now belongs to the past. The Jews have returned to Jerusalem, and laid the foundations of the temple, but proceeded no further, being checked by Samaritan opposition. For sixteen years the temple has lain in ruins, a constant reminder of their lack of religion. They excused themselves on the ground that the time had not come to build. They built costly houses for themselves, but would not labor for the Lord. Procrastination and neglect are subtle enemies of our household. We assign other reasons for adversity that follows. The blessings of heaven are withheld; the fruits of righteousness are sparse and unsatisfying. We can do nothing about it! Everyone seeks his own good, and leaves the Lord out of account. "Mine house is waste, and ye run every man to his own house." "The remnant of the people" is stirred by the word of the prophet, and the state and the church get busy with the work of reconstruction.

2. Comparisons are sometimes odious, but sometimes quite illuminating. Both outwardly and inwardly the conditions of living today are better and also worse than they were years ago. The word of the prophet is for church and state: it is addressed to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the high priest, and to the residue of the people. It assures them that the glory of the temple they have just begun to build will be greater than that of the former temple, and that the peace of God shall dwell on earth again. Our vaunted civilization is valueless so long as the nations of the earth are continually fighting for power and possessions. An external, however vast and imposing, is worse than useless, when it is a curse, and not a blessing. The Word of God, with its expanding vision of the meaning of the Lord’s life in relation to the times we live in, holds the key to the solution of the problem. The old order must pass away, and a new order take its place. "In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel. . . . and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts." Despite all appearances to the contrary, or shall we rather say, by reason of them, the construction of a real home in which the Lord can again dwell among the children of men is already on the way, and will far exceed the glory of any former age.


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