Four labour-intensive projects in the Old Testament had similar ends: people connected with God; became worshipers or by the admission of their moral failure renewed their relationships with Him.
These projects separated by decades and, at times centuries, were part of an overarching scheme to elevate Jerusalem into the spiritual Mecca for all humankind, the locus of a predicted Fountain that would cleanse from sin and impurity.
- Moses’ tabernacle and Tent of Meeting: completed “just as the Lord commanded” was the portable precursor in use by nomads as the place of contact with God.
- Solomon’s temple: “finished in all its details according to its specifications” was to house Moses’ tabernacle and establish Jerusalem as the city of God.
- Zerubbabel’s temple: “finished according to the command of the God of Israel” was a restoration of Solomon’s temple.
- Nehemiah’s perimeter wall: “was completed… with the help of our God” to protect Jerusalem and her temple, and to re-institute its rituals as a means of connecting people to God.
Moses’, Zerubbabel’s, and Nehemiah’s projects were at the time of execution exclusively for the Jewish nation; Solomon, however, took into consideration that his temple might give access for all people to God, non-Jews included.
Could it be that Zechariah1 in Zerubbabel’s time was looking forward to the events described in Acts 2 and the rest of the New Testament when the whole world would have ready access to God?
That people “aware of the afflictions of their own hearts”2 may be interested in making an appeal to God for help is what makes missions like EMAS Canada tell others there is a way to God.
Eugene Peterson translates a key New Testament text into these words:
Scripture reassures us,
“No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it.” It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.” But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?3
Helping people know Whom to trust is what we do using our deeds and words.
Donors “send” through their gifts to EMAS teams.
The city of Jerusalem, its temple and the tabernacle therein were to create awareness and become a locus for meeting the Divine, but of course, God is not confined to a street address in Jerusalem. He is not to be found in a man-made structure.4
The connection of people with God through a physical project or program such as a perimeter wall around an ancient city, a temple with complex and bloody rituals, safe water piped down the slopes of the Ruwenzori Mountains, or improved maternal health in rural Haiti is the supernatural work of God. He can and does create a kingdom for Himself secretly away from the naked eye, like yeast spreading through a lump of dough or a tiny seed that grows secretly mysteriously into a tree.5
The absence of visible converts does not diminish our joy in service, nor is it increased by the completion of any given project. On the contrary, it is in the understanding that our calling as healthcare professionals is to be faithful stewards of a trust by God on behalf of others6.
Like the Old Testament project leaders, we aim to finish our tasks, to rally our teams for work, to mobilize resources, and when faced with difficulties, discouragement, and opposition turn to God.
You can join us by signing up for the monthly prayer checklist or donating to all teams through the general fund.
1. Zechariah 8:20-23
2. 1 Kings 8:38-43 NIV 2011
3. Romans 10:11-17 MSG
4. Isaiah 66:1-2, Mark 15:38
5. Luke 13:18-21
1. 1 Thessalonians 2:4
All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise stated.
Feature image: Photo by Sven Mieke on Unsplash