Rebuilding on the old foundation
Published 3:49 pm Friday, September 1, 2017
When I stopped by the local cleaners to pick up my suit Wednesday, I handed cash to the nice lady at the front desk and waited to receive my change—in the amount of fifteen cents. As I received the two coins, I mentioned that we used to be able to get a cold drink and a pack of crackers for fifteen cents, but not anymore. That led us into conversation about what we could do with a little pocket change in days gone by; she talked about getting fifty cents when she was a child and having enough to go to the movie, buy snacks, and still come away with money left over (I could not relate to that since we were not allowed to go to the “picture show” when I was coming up, so I have no idea what the cost was. In fact, the first time I remember going to see a movie at a theatre I had my own car and drove myself).
It was enjoyable to take a few minutes and recall such things, yet those events are mere memories of another day in time never to be relived again. There is something within us that makes us want to go back to times long gone, although we probably make those memories bigger, better, and more pleasing than they really were. Spiritually speaking, however, there are some things that we would do well to experience again.
In the Book of Revelation, Christ warned the church in Ephesus that turning back to a closer relationship with God was essential to their spiritual well being. After confronting them about having forsaken their first love, He sternly addressed them with these words of guidance and warning: “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (Revelation 2:5, New International Version). That same warning and guidance can surely be useful to our lives today and in our society.
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Looking far back in time, we see God’s people actively returning to some old ways. In the Book of Ezra we find record of the Jewish people returning to their homeland after having spent many years in exile in a foreign land. Their exile was the result of them refusing to heed God’s warning to turn from sin and turn to Him. Ultimately destruction came upon Jerusalem and many of the people were deported to Babylon. But as was promised, after seventy years of exile, they were allowed to return and rebuild the city. After their return was initiated, Ezra records that the first order of business was the rebuilding of the altar so they could worship God, ask for His forgiveness, and offer up prayer and praise to Him. They did not select a new location for it, but they went back to the original place, using the old foundation: “Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices” (Ezra 3:3). That was a step in returning to their first love by sincerely worshipping and obeying the Lord.
We no longer need an altar to offer animal sacrifices on since Christ came and sacrificed Himself for us on the cross once and for all, but we do need to spiritually return to that old Foundation and build on it by authentically trusting and serving Him. It is fine to recall things we did long ago, even though we cannot relive them. But we can return and rebuild on that spiritual foundation of faith in Christ and devotion to His Word. That is an old Foundation that is of immense value to every generation.