1.) When God does something new it will always be in keeping with His Word, never contrary to it.
“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.” (Ezra 1:1,2)
The return of captive Israel to Jerusalem was not the idea of any man. We read: “the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia.” Such a momentous event was also in keeping with the prophecy of Jeremiah that the Lord would turn the captivity of the Israelites after seventy years. (Jer. 29:10,11)
This was a “new” thing for the majority of those who responded to the call. They had grown up as strangers in a strange land. They had not known the worship of God in their own land that their fathers had known. But their confidence lay in the fact that the king was not acting of himself; he was an instrument through whom their God was acting. This “new thing” was ordained by heaven, “that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled.”
There is a certain excitement when something new is being undertaken. We can get bored with the status quo. But change for the sake of change is never prudent. Very often, our situation can go from bad to worse. Change that is contrary to the Word of God will always end in disaster. A married person may believe that their marriage has become stale. They may get it in their mind that happiness lies in transitioning from the old to the new. The idea of divorce and remarriage may be intriguing and exciting, but God’s blessing and favor can never be on something He has clearly forbidden.
Beware of mere excitement over something new. The question we must always ask is: “Lord, if it’s you, bid me to come.” But know that the Lord will never tell you to do anything other than is already written. If a book, a teaching, a dream, a prophecy really “speaks” to you and resonates with “where you are” right now, but at the same time encourages you down a path that directly violates the clear command of scripture, you are being deceived and led astray by a seducing spirit.
2.) When God does something new He raises up those who recognize what He is doing and are stirred up by Him to do it.
“Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.
And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:3-5)
The Book of Ezra details the moves of two groups back to Jerusalem. The first group included pioneers like Joshua and Zerubbabel; the second included Ezra and others. Those who first ventured out would find a mess when they returned to their home. They had to rebuild “from scratch.” But God made them willing to begin such a major undertaking. Later, Ezra would come to oversee and bring correction to what was already started.
Every new venture requires visionaries who see in the Spirit what God is up to before it is seen by eye. They are stirred by the vision of the possible. Faith is in operation because the Word of God has been heard and the vision of God has been seen. That though is only the beginning; now faith must be perfected by works.
God forbid we rise up in our own spirits to do what we want to do and call it of God. But may we never fail to arise when the pillar of cloud is moving and our Shepherd goes before us.
3.) When God does something new He brings together like-minded people to work as “one man” to accomplish it.
“And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.
Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.” (Ezra 3:1,2)
God has commanded a blessing where brethren dwell together in unity. (Psalm 133:1-3) When the first wave of the children of Israel responded to the call of God they “gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.” All of their hearts were intent on one thing: reestablishing the worship of God. This was not the program of one or two; this was the consensus of all – before anything else, the altar of God must be repaired.
Yes, there is strength in numbers; but that can be both a good or a bad thing. What matters is that there is unity around what God is doing. All the Body must hold the Head. All God’s children are to be taught of the Lord. Man is not in charge; God is. And when God has spoken, all those who are of God, listen.
4.) When God does something new something old must be left behind.
“And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.
And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:
So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.” (Ezra 3:10-13)
Among those who returned were “old-timers” who had beheld the glory of Solomon’s temple. While the new generation were thrilled at the laying of the foundation of the new temple, the “ancient men, that had seen the first house … wept with a loud voice.” Nostalgia created melancholy.
Solomon himself recognized that there was a time and a purpose to leave the old behind and move on to the new. He wrote in Ecclesiastes: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven … a time to break down, and a time to build up” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,3)
God is not Abaddon. (Rev. 9:1) He is not simply a destroyer of the old, who offers nothing in its place. He knows what He is doing at all times. When He breaks down, He has a plan in place to build up. When God is on the march, there need be no sentimental yearning for the past. What He has in store is always an upgrade.
5.) When God does something new there will be resistance to its accomplishment.
“Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,
And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose …” (Ezra 4:4,5)
Whether by fears within or fightings without, a new launch will meet with resistance. If God is for something, His adversaries will be against it.
The first tactic of the enemy is intimidation. The inhabitants of the land were not interested in assisting the Jews in re-establishing the worship of their God. When their offer to help was wisely rebuffed, they immediately turned against those they supposedly wanted to assist. Now, they made it their business to frustrate the work.
God does not promise His servants a trouble-free path. The devil maintains a special ire for those who are given over to the Lord’s work. He will use whatever and whoever he can to discourage those who labor in the Lord. He wants our hands to hang down and our knees to become weak. He doesn’t mind if we start something, he just doesn’t want us to finish it.
6.) When God does something new continuous encouragement and exhortation from the Lord is necessary to help it forward.
“Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them.
Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.” (Ezra 5:1,2)
Whatever is OF God must also be BY God. “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” (Psalm 127:1) What God initiates, He oversees. He must be looked to each step of the way. His instruction is crucial at all times.
Rulers and priests succeed with the help of prophets. Zerubbabel and Joshua needed Haggai and Zechariah. What they spoke from God was enough to keep the fire from going out.
“Then spake Haggai the LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD. And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God” (Haggai 1:13,14)
Oh to know that God has not only sent us, but that He is working with us on the frontlines. He is not depending on our strength, He is wanting us to depend on His strength. He is the Lord of hosts, through whom we can level any mountain, and complete any task.
“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.” (Zechariah 4:6-9)
7.) When God does something new it doesn’t happen overnight.
“For who hath despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10)
Instant success is a rarity in the things of God. He is a wise master-builder who likes to get things right, and so He builds with care. Some are quick to throw in the towel when they don’t see the progress they think should be there. I heard one preacher say if a work isn’t successful in the first five years it will never be a success. But James tells us: “Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” (James 5:7)
In every God ordained endeavor there is much to grow in. We learn as we go. Experimentation produces experience. But we must begin somewhere knowing: “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8) The work begun by that first hardy group needed the fine-tuning that came with the arrival of Ezra and Nehemiah.
There is much work to be done in the field of this world. The harvest is great and the laborers are few. What does God want His servants to do? The whole work was never meant to be put on any one man, but He wants each of us to do our part by saying, “Here am I; send me!”