Commentary by Walter Albritton


November 26, 2006


God’s Plan for the Church and the World Will Not Fail!


2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:5-7


Key Verse: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem. . . . Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him! Let him go up. – 2 Chronicles 36:23


          Rituals of the church change over the years though the truth does not change. Many pastors prefer now to use an updated Baptismal Covenant. That more than one covenant is available is indicative of our culture’s appetite for many options.

          Thankfully the old covenant is still available. When I encounter pessimism about the future of the church, my confidence in the church is not shaken for I recall these stirring words from the old Baptismal Covenant:

          “The church is of God, and will be preserved to the end of time, for the conduct of worship and the due administration of God’s Word and Sacraments, the maintenance of Christian fellowship and discipline, the edification of believers, and the conversion of the world. All, of every age and station, stand in need of the means of grace which it alone supplies” (The Hymnal, p. 45).

          “Preserved to the end of time” – that says it all. That I believe with my whole heart. Nothing can stop the plan God has begun in the world through his church. In Christ God has opened the door to heaven for all who will believe. No man can ever shut that door!

If every Christian church building in the world was destroyed today, tomorrow the Christian movement would be stronger than ever! The people whose hearts God has touched are not dependent upon bricks and mortar to finish the work Christ began with his crucifixion and resurrection. God can use buildings but his plan can still be fulfilled without them.

          Look at Judaism. Repeatedly the Jews have been crushed, defeated, and enslaved. But God has continued to restore them by his mighty power. Israel belongs to God to the present hour.

Those who seek to destroy Israel must first defeat God and that will never happen because God is the sovereign ruler of the universe. He has ordained that in the end, love wins and hate loses. Those who perpetuate hate and violence can inflict suffering upon millions of people, but the ultimate victory belongs to God.

Paul understood that. Otherwise he would not have been absolutely convinced that nothing, absolutely nothing, “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

          Ruthless Nebuchadnezzar confiscated the sacred vessels of the temple. He had the temple destroyed. No doubt he thought, “That is the end of Judah and the end of the Judahites. They are finished.”

          But he was wrong. He did not understand that God always has the last word. God had a plan. Jeremiah understood. He knew God could not be defeated. The prophet was convinced that God’s power was so great that he could even use the pagan King Cyrus to accomplish his purposes – and God did!

          When Cyrus came to power over Babylonia he gave the exiled Jews the freedom to worship the God of their choice. They began to worship Yahweh more faithfully than ever before. Exile had taught them the foolishness of worshipping pagan gods.

          With no temple to use for worship the Jews had developed synagogue worship. In these small groups they began to love the holy scriptures more than ever. Over time the Jews had become a people of the book, and that book was God’s Word. Out of such an environment God brought forth his only Son Jesus, the Messiah for whom the Jews had waited so long. God can do mighty things with people who love to meet and study his Word.

          God used their misery for their good and his glory. Slowly they realized that God had a plan and his plans cannot be ultimately thwarted.

          Ezra tells of a mighty moment in the history of the Jews. My heart skips a beat when I read it! The priests and heads of families “got ready to go up and rebuild the house of the Lord in Jerusalem”! They got ready! Why? Because God stirred their spirits!

The power of God was so real that even King Cyrus had his heart stirred. He brought out the Lord’s vessels that King Nebuchadnezzar had desecrated by using them in pagan worship.

Surely this is a time when God’s people need for their hearts to be stirred again by the Spirit of God. We are so prone to hopelessness. We forget that God is still on the throne. The rampant evil and violence in the world cause us to become discouraged.

Paganism seems so powerful. The church seems filled with hypocrites who have surrendered to the lusts of the flesh. The church has lost its influence in society. There is no hope for the future. When that happens we need for God to stir our hearts again and restore our hope that God’s purposes will one day be fulfilled.

          Once we embrace again the truth that God’s plan for the church and the world will not fail, there is only one thing to do next. We need to “get ready” to be to God “a name of joy” like Jeremiah envisioned. We need to get ready to honor and obey God – like the Jews did in the days of Ezra.

We need to get busy doing the will of God, forgiving and loving one another, and sharing Christ with our neighbors. We need to get busy doing our part, no matter how small, to help the kingdom of this world become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ! 

          Only then – when almighty God has stirred us out of our lethargy – will we have the courage to face even the worst of times with joy and hope. Only then will we find the enthusiasm to sing our faith as Handel sang it:


Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!


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