The Right Place at the Right Time
This is a synopsis, or quick review, of the sermon for May 22, 2022. I am only hitting the highlights of the message, not reproducing the entire sermon.
Have you ever experienced a time when everything just fell into place? I recall my transition from Army Reserves to retirement. I was promised a part-time teaching assignment at my former college. But it was less classes than I was hoping for. My wife & I were too young for Social Security, and I had but two classes at the College. This was not enough to make our living budget. What should we do? God provides, but it’s usually not by “waiting for the ravens bringing you bread every day,” like Elijah enjoyed.
I recalled the “Ragan Recession” when I was unemployed for about a year and a half. I admit I was afraid.
Nevertheless, my good wife, Nancy, went to the JoAnn’s store where she had been teaching sewing and got hired with a part time job on the spot. The next day I headed off to Lowes, filled out an online application, then over to Woodcraft. Woodcraft had told me, a week before, that there were no openings. But God seemed to be directing me just to stop and check on how things were going. I walked in at the right place at the right time. The owner had fired the manager the night before and set up a new experienced manager that morning. There were a couple other resignations at the same time. Again, right place, right time. I was hired by noon, with a part time job that would not interfere with my college classes.
While this looks like coincidences, it was not. God was working in the background to bring about the circumstances exactly as they needed to be. Remember Agent Gibbs on NCIS famous saying, “There is no such thing as a coincidence.” This is a truism not only in detective work, but in “real life,” because God is working behind the scenes to do His will (Rom 8:28). We often forget that. We think it is “luck” or “fate” or just coincidence. When in reality it is God at work.
In our Scripture reading today, note all the pieces God put together to get God’s people on the ball, and catch the enemies off guard. In chapter 4 the Jews tried to re-build their temple, and the neighboring cities opposed and restrained the work, culminating in a “stop work order” by the Emperor we know as Cambyses. The people were both discouraged and afraid to carry on the work (4:4).
When you turn the page onto chapter 6, a new Emperor, Darius by name, has appeared. It was by then eight or nine years after the stop work order. Remember Proverbs 21:1, “The King’s heart is in the hand of the LORD and He turns it wherever He wills.” Think of watering your lawn. You can easily move the hose nozzle to the right or left, or wherever you think the water should flow. In the same way, God moves the heart of the ruler that He put in place. Romans 13:1 tells us that God put the “powers that be” in office. A good thing to remember at a time like we are living in today. He was and is working to accomplish His will on this earth.
Next, God has His prophets, Haggai & Zachariah, ministering His Word to the people. And the people are responding positively to it. This is again because “God stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel & Joshua the high priest” (Haggai 1:14) to do the work. That brings us the last point, both the people and the leadership were all ready and on board to do God’s will.
Kings, prophets, leaders, and people were all on onboard ready to build. And the time was right also. In the sixth month, Sept-Oct time frame (Haggai 1:2) that he began to preach. The harvest was in for the year and the weather was still good. The people went to cut the timbers in their own forests to rebuild the trusses on the Temple. Yes, they had both good timing and resources. Everything was falling together. God was definitely moving.
Kings, Prophets, leaders, people, timing, and resources. Everything was in line. Then comes the opposition. The nations dwelling around the Jews were again upset at the rebuilding process. When the Provincial Governor of “the Land Beyond the River” or “Trans-Euphrates,” (depending on your translation) tried to interfere, he was informed about the decree of Cyrus some eighteen years before. When that was verified, the Governor was not only told to stay away from the project, but to use his royal revenues to help the Jews complete the project. And according to Ezra 6:13, they did provide as instructed.
Wow, God worked it all out, right place, right time, all the people and resources as needed. But let me ask another question. Why was there “success” in the endeavor in chapters 5 & 6, when the same endeavor seeming to be a failure in chapter 4? Was God not sovereign in chapter 4, but was sovereign in chapters 5-6? No! The answer lies in the mystery of God.
We cannot know, in this life, all the “why’s” and “why not’s” of our life. But God is still working. We must take that on faith. I have been musing on this last point for over a week. This week, on a trip from point “A” to point “B,” I was listening to Tony Evans preaching on the life of Joseph. Many bad things happened to Joseph, all of which ultimately put him in the right place at the right time to be promoted to Prime Minister of Egypt, then to save both his family and the world from starvation.
To make Joseph ready to rule, he needed to simmer in the trials of life and be made spiritually ready to serve at the right time. Simmering takes time and heat. Tony explained, God is a master chef using a crockpot over time to make “us” the tasty meal He needs us to be. He is not a microwave cook producing a fast cheap dinner. May we learn to both see and trust Him in our lives.
God Bless you,