When I was younger, I’d sometimes listen to Paul Harvey’s radio program.
One feature was called “The Rest of the Story.”
Paul would tell a story, sharing some little-known facts — with a surprise at the end.
Then Paul would say, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
The Bible has its own “Rest of the Story” moments.
And I think I found one.
The story starts long after Moses has led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and Joshua has brought them into the Promised Land.
Let me quickly summarize what happens between that time and our story.
- The Israelites’ descendants will become increasingly wicked. They don’t repent even when God sends prophets to warn them.
- In the meantime, the country splits in two — with Israel in the north and Judah in the south.
- Enemies, called the Assyrians, invade Israel, capture people and take them away to Assyria.
- The Babylonians invade Judah and its capital city, Jerusalem. They capture people and take them to Babylonia. The beautiful temple King Solomon built in Jerusalem is destroyed.
- Seventy years later — after the Persians have defeated the Babylonians — God lets many people of Judah go home. Under the orders of King Cyrus of Persia — thousands return to start rebuilding the temple of Jerusalem.
- Judah’s adversaries hear what’s happening and send a bad letter to Persia’s next king, whose name is Xerxes.
- Work on the temple stops shortly after it started and won’t resume for 18 years, according to Fire Bible commentary.
That had to be tough.
- But later — under Godly leadership — work on the temple resumes.
Enemies pop up like a bunch of jack-in-the-boxes.
Yet Godly leaders — with the encouragement of the prophets — continue work on the temple.
Sounds like everything will be OK, right.
Adversaries of Judah then send a bad letter to King Darius, another in the list of foreign leaders.
But this is also the king who is overjoyed when God rescues the prophet, Daniel, from a den of lions.
Here comes the rest of our story.
This next poison pen letter has more details.
The enemies say the folks of Judah admit their ancestors angered God and the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple and carried away the people.
But when King Cyrus became the ruler, he said the temple should be rebuilt.
This is where the newest king — Darius — does his research.
Darius finds a scroll with King Cyrus’ decree saying the temple is to be rebuilt.
So Darius literally tells the adversaries to stay away and let the temple be reconstructed.
He also tells the adversaries to pay whatever is needed to rebuild the house of God — and to do it without delay.
The money will come from the royal revenue.
Anyone who alters the king’s decree will face a horrible death.
King Darius gets the adversaries’ attention.
With all diligence, they carry out the king’s orders and the temple is rebuilt.
By the way, under the leadership of a man named Nehemiah, the walls around the city of Jerusalem are rebuilt, too.
It’s all a wonderful example of how God’s plans prevail — despite human opposition — and how we should never forsake our God-given dreams and direction.
Now, what do I see as the rest of this story?
Go to the New Testament in the Bible to learn about a very special kind of temple.
In the second chapter of the book of John, we read where religious leaders are asking Jesus to show them some signs of his authority.
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up,” Jesus says.
The religious leaders think Jesus is talking about the temple building, which took many years to construct.
But Jesus is talking about a different temple — his own body.
Jesus will die a brutal death on a cross to save us from our sins and be resurrected on the third day.
Those who repent (turn from) their sins and ask Christ into their hearts can go to heaven.
And even before he dies on the cross, Christ tells his disciples that our Heavenly Father will send the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is our guide, comforter and helper.
Now go to 1 Corinthians, chapter six, in the New Testament.
In this book — which is a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth — we read about another temple.
At one point in the letter, Paul has some very strong words against sexual immorality.
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul writes: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
If you do some research, you’ll learn the temple building in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D., something Jesus foretold before his death.
It’s never been rebuilt.
Will it ever be rebuilt?
I don’t know.
But I believe we must take care of the temple that is our own body, pray, read God’s word — and seek to be led by the Holy Spirit.
What can be the rest of our story?
We find it in the New Testament book of Revelation.
Here’s where the Apostle John talks about a time when the dwelling place of God will be with people.
And God will:
“…wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4)
Our home will be with God and as John writes in Rev. 21:22, there won’t be a temple in this place, “…for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb (Jesus).”
That’s the “Rest of the Story” I really love.