Who Is Rebuilding The Temple?
by Lonnie Lane
When God sent Ezra, then Nehemiah back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, he sent specific men to do it with them. OK, true they may have volunteered, but it was God who was behind their choice to go, as you will see. Today God is rebuilding His temple to be the holy place of His indwelling in Spirit and in truth. We are familiar with the term “one new humanity” or “one new man” (Eph.2:14, 15). It’s something that’s been a’building in this generation or so that wasn’t there for almost 2,000 years. The foundation is based on the truth of the entire Bible and is little by little weeding out the various pagan characteristics that have permeated the body of Messiah for all these past years. Before Yeshua returns, His house will be a place of purity and holiness, fitting for the Master.
This means some changes have to take place. Indeed these changes have begun, more in some locations than others. There are always front-runners, those who see things sooner than others, and there are always those who hang on to the traditions they’re accustomed to for longer. Maybe some will never change. Happily our salvation isn’t based upon our doctrines, except for the ones that say Yeshua died for our sins, that we receive salvation by faith in that truth, and He is coming again. Those are non-negotiable.
In the Bible Hebrew names tell of the character or sometimes the function of the persons named. The most obvious is that Yeshua means “Yahweh is salvation.” I found some interesting significance recently in the names of those men who were rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem when it had been all but completely destroyed by the Babylonians. Certainly the walls were crumbled down and the gates were burned when they set about to restore it.
To make some analogies with the temple of God today (meaning us!), walls are meant to make a distinction between what is on the outside and the inside. Today we have walls that are broken down in our collective temple of God so that the world which should be outside is far too often in far too many ways inside the church. The delineation between what should be clearly outside is rather indistinct from what is inside. Our walls in some places are in great need of being re-established and redefined. We are often hardly distinguishable from the world around us. If this means corporately for the church, then it certainly has to mean individually. If the church’s walls are broken down, then our own individual walls are not intact in some places either. Our integrity may be in question in the godliest sense. If you think I’m being too harsh, please keep reading and I think you’ll see what I mean.
As for the gates, gates were the places of authority, the place where godly transactions took place, where “kingdom” government decisions were made. It’s where contracts were established (think Boaz and Ruth) and relational issues were often ironed out. I wonder how many folks come to church week after week, year after year, with little or no accountability for their lives, with no one to really notice if they’re hurting, or aren’t looking people in the eye that week for some painful reason, or wishing someone would notice they are spiritually adrift and in need of a serious rescue? Gates were a place where accountability to elders would take place. If we’re not in a small group where people get to know each other well enough to notice when someone’s “just not right,” and the group is open enough to address it and minister to each other, then it’s unlikely that the Body will serve to be a help or a source of rescue and hope. The gates are broken down.
Gates are to be the places of community entrance and community protection, where what’s good or not good for the people within the community are screened and given access or not. Can the elders even begin to know what’s going on in some of the churches? And are we so independent that community life is even seen as boundary infringements? It’s not just that the gates are burned, we don’t always want the gates restored, even if they would be security for us. We’re not sure we want that kind of interference in our lives. Possibly because we’re just not used to that kind of communal accountability to and for each other. It’s what God built into Israel. It’s what the early church lived out, being accountable to and for each other. Pretty successfully, it would seem. Enough so, so that thousands joined their number day by day. We could use some rebuilding ourselves, wouldn’t you say?
Well then, what kind of people does God build with? Looking at the names of the men who were building with Ezra may give us some insight, as well as names of those who were disqualified. So here goes with the list of names and their meanings. What is so fascinating, at least to me, is that God is so much Lord of our lives, that He can “inspire” our parents to name us in accordance with His plan for our lives. At least that was the case for these men. Perhaps the meaning of your name has some value for you that way. God seems to be involved in selecting our names, it would appear. I’m using the Hebrew pronunciation for the names here. I am also giving you some commentary on each name as to what it might mean for us today. These are found in Ezra 2. Here goes:
Ezra means aid, help, helper, to surround, protect, and help. Has that father kind of sound doesn’t it? A father that comes to aid and help and surround you and protect you while you’re learning what to do and how to do it? That’s who God put in charge of the project initially, to get it under way.
Z’rubabel means born in Babylon, or descended from Babel (Babel means confusion); to flow away from. As in flowing away from a place other than Jerusalem, even a place of confusion in order to walk in God’s ways. We all come from elsewhere else and enter into the Kingdom of God. In order to be part of the rebuilding of God’s temple, we must leave where we came from to flow into the ways of God.
Yeshua means God is salvation (Yah is Salvation). Yeshua, of course, is the Hebrew for Jesus. If you read throughout Ezra you will find references to Yeshua that never list his name alone, as all the other names do. It’s always “the house of Yeshua” or “Yeshua and his brothers”. His is the only name this applies to. We who are His are of Yeshua’s “house” meaning family. We are His brothers and sisters. In order to be a part of rebuilding His temple, we must be part of Yeshua’s family of true believers by faith in the salvation He brings us.
Nechemyah (Nehemiah) means consolation of Yah (Yah is the abbreviated form of Yahweh) It also means comforter. Sound like the Holy Spirit, doesn’t it? He is our comforter. I see this name as being not just the consolation of the men who were seeing their beloved temple rebuilt, but the consolation of God Himself. This is a man who exudes the character of the Holy Spirit to minister not only to the men working with him, but also to minister to God by His Spirit.
S’rayah means Yah has prevailed. No matter what has taken place, no matter how broken down and deserted the temple appeared, no matter how much was lost, Yah does not change. He is still Lord and Master. He is still God with the same plans and purposes and His word will be established. I find that enormously comforting, don’t you? This is a person whose assured confidence in the never changing character of God and His prevailing promises.
Re’elyah means made to tremble; reverential fear of Yah. You can know who the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are, but in order to be one who is able to participate in the rebuilding of God’s temple so that He will come and inhabit it as His resting place, there needs to be the spirit of deep reverence of His holiness, a fear of displeasing your beloved Lord, and even a trembling at His word. This is not a person who speaks lightly or casually about the Lord. Intimacy is not the same as familiarity. You can be intimate and very respectful at the same time.
Mordechai has no meaning. Likely this is Queen Esther’s uncle. It’s most likely a Babylonian name since it has no Hebrew meaning, like Esther (which is a derivative of Ishtar, a Babylonian goddess. Her real name in Hebrew was Hadassah.) We know of Mordechai’s integrity and faithfulness to God. Sometimes nameless, faceless people do the most for the establishment of the house of God by their integrity and character.
Mispar means to number, or enumeration. He’s the man who kept count of all the many things recounted in Ezra, the gold, the animals, the people in their various capacities. In the midst of all the spiritual aspects, sometimes you just need a guy with good administrative skills, which is just as spiritual really in God’s eyes, because with God everything is sacred.
Rechum means full of compassion, merciful. In such a hard job as rebuilding might be, you need someone to be merciful. Mercy and compassion are so very important in the rebuilding of God’s house. It takes a lot of hard work and we don’t always know what we’re doing. Judgment won’t help; compassion will go a long way. Yeshua made them one of the “blessed” “Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
Ba’anah means gentleness, humble self, sing, speak, or submit one’s self. It can also mean self abasing. In the midst of all the spiritual building, there must be a submission one to another, a humility before God and each other. An attitude of singing or speaking with gentleness and kindness toward one another. In a time when the love of many is likely to grow cold, God is still “prevailing” and building His house with people who love one another with the same humility and forgiveness that He offers to each of us.
So those were the men whom God first sent to see to the rebuilding of the temple. To begin to put the services in order, the priests needed to be set in place. There were four who oversaw all that the priests were to do which is to minister first to God, and then to the people in bringing them before God. Priests are known as Cohanim (co-han-eem plural). We who are believers in Yeshua are also priests, of course. What is required of a person to qualify as a priest?
Y’da’yah of the house of Yeshua means praised of Yah; reveres or worship with uplifted hands; to be thankful. A priest in God’s house will be a true worshipper of God. This does not mean necessarily a singer of worship songs, but it does mean a praiser. There’s a difference. Worship in the Biblical sense is not about singing, it’s about humility before God, about surrender of your life to Him, and a heart of praise and reverence. The uplifted hands are a sign of surrender to Yah.
Immer means talkative, to say, call, and declare. As a priest of the Lord we are to proclaim the gospel, to overflow with sharing with others how wonderful our God is. We are to be talkative about Him, declaring His word and His wonderful deeds in our own lives. Not Yeshua, nor the early church, ever envisioned Believers keeping their faith to themselves and never telling anyone else about the Lord, nor leading anyone to Him. I’m not trying to put a guilt trip on anyone, it’s just a fact, wouldn’t you say, from your reading of Acts? As priests, we should be able to “call” others into the Kingdom and to pray and “call” things that are not into being. We’ve been given that power and authority by the Lord. It is our priestly duty to be prophetic people and speak things into being that are in line with Kingdom living.
Pash’chur means liberation; to tear or pull in pieces. A priest should walk in freedom, in liberation, and be able to bring others into the same. The pulling in pieces could mean for the priests in Ezra’s time the dividing up of the pieces of a sacrifice on the altar. For us it could mean “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15) as well as to maintain the freedom of the Holy Spirit. “Where the Spirit is there is liberty” (liberation) (2 Cor 3:17).
Harim means earthenware, mixing clay with water. This is a picture of humility and a reminder of who we are: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Cor 4:7). A true priest of God will always give the glory to God and not ever for himself. We are dust and clay with the privilege of the glory of God being upon our lives, by His great grace.
The Cohanim officiated within the tabernacle or temple, but it was the Levites who carried every part of the tabernacle. They were in charge of bearing all that comprised the tabernacle from one place to another. In the temple they saw to the maintaining of the temple in a similar way. You could say that they bore the glory of the Lord, and as the carriers of the stuff of the tabernacle, they were the carriers of God’s presence. While the priests ministered in the presence of God, the Levites carried what housed His presence to where the priests would minister. There are those who carry the presence of God on their beings in the Body today. We all should; not everyone does. But it’s available to us all. Accordingly, here’s what God saw to it that each of these men were named. Again, it’s pretty amazing that this is what they were doing, and this is what their names mean:
Levites: They were listed as the descendents of certain men who were the original carriers:
Descendents of Yeshua (Yah saves) Notice Yeshua is mentioned first always, except after Ezra above. The first requirement is that we are “descendents” or of the family of Yeshua and “saved.”
Descendents of Kadmiel which means the presence of God. This person would help to rebuild the true temple of God by dwelling in the presence of God and carrying His presence with them wherever they go. They would be available to God for whatever He would ask of them at any time. (Hopefully that would come to be all of us.)
Descendents of Hodavyah means the majesty of Yah. To carry the presence of God one must be continually awed by and aware of the majesty of the Lord and the honor of being His.
Descendents of Asaf which means collector, to gather for a purpose, to put all together, to recover. The fascinating thing about this is that Asaf (pronounced ah-SAHF) is the man who collected and gathered together all of David’s psalms and organized them pretty much as we have them today, and then wrote his own psalms as well.
There were also Gatekeepers. These names also revealed specific traits that would belong to those who guard the entrances to the temple. Gatekeepers could also be intercessors as well as elders and leaders who watch over the flock for their well-being. They guard what comes into the church and what goes out. For the sake of space, I’m only listing one gatekeeper.
Gatekeeper: Shalum (related to shalom) means safe, well, happy, welfare, prosperity, peace, health, and rest. Gatekeepers are to protect the temple of God and see that what comes in blesses the flock and brings them these characteristics while other names of Gatekeepers keep out what is undesirable.
Defiled and Disqualified persons: It is of interest that those priests that were unable to locate their genealogical records, who were therefore considered defiled and not allowed to serve as priests, many of whom married foreign women, had names that also revealed what kind of people are disqualified from being among those God will use to build His house.
Havayah means Yah has hidden. Someone who does not have a relationship with the Lord, or to whom the Lord has hidden himself for an extended period (we all have times when God seems less close to us than other times; that’s not what this means). This is someone to whom the Lord is a stranger, far from them and without understanding of the Lord. It would seem this person is not born again. Makes me sad to think of someone who to whom our precious Lord is hidden.
Kakotz means a thorn, or prickling. This is someone who’s just prickly and testy, difficult to get along with, or as a thorn, a constant annoyance to believers or other people. A contentious person. This kind of mean spirited person is disqualified from being among those dwelling in God’s house.
Barzillai means iron hearted, or hard hearted. Barzillai is mentioned as coming from the daughters of the Gil’adi which means “heap of testimony.” You can have a testimony, perhaps from an experience with the Lord, but if your heart is hardened, which usually means embittered, you are defiled and not able to be one who can be counted among those whom God would use to build His temple.
If any reading this are pricked in their consciences that these last few names address their own plight at this time, there is always a road to repentance and restoration to the Lord. Tell Him you’re sorry and confess what it is that is keeping you away from sweet surrender to Him. He’ll welcome you with His great heart. As for what the other names represent, I trust they are encouraging to you to give you a picture, as they did for me, of the character and integrity that God is looking for to establish the temple of God in preparation for His return. May we each be counted as worthy of the Master’s house. Amen.
Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2009.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.