It seems like the Psalmist is very depressed, thinking of the continual, constant destruction of the enemy. Do you ever feel like that? Like you are constantly being beat down, all your hopes a pile of rubble? your life always in ruins? Yet, the word translated “everlasting” in this verse has a very positive meaning.
Turn your steps towards these everlasting ruins, all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary. Psalm 74:3 (NIV)
In this verse, the Psalmist mourns the destruction of the temple, possibly by the Babylonians. It seems like the Psalmist is very depressed, thinking of the continual, constant destruction of the enemy. Do you ever feel like that? Like you are constantly being beat down, all your hopes a pile of rubble? your life always in ruins? Yet, the word translated “everlasting” in this verse has a very positive meaning. It means “a goal, the bright object at a distance travelled towards.” It means: eminence, perpetuity, strength, victory, enduring, everlastingness. It comes from the root word that means “to glitter from afar,” to excel, be bright, be enduring, be preeminent, be perpetual, be overseer or superintendent (as in the Temple services), be director or chief (such as of the music and musicians in the Temple).[i]
The combination of such a positive word with “ruins” seems like such an oxymoron – a ruin looking toward a bright, victorious goal. I wondered what it could mean. This is what God showed me – Yes!
In Christ, we are the temple:
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 1 Cor 3:16 (NIV)
Do you not know that your body is a temple 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. 1 Cor 6:19-20 (NIV)
For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” 2 Cor. 6:16b (NASB)
But the temple is in ruins. God always meant to dwell and walk with us, even from back in the garden. People were meant for glorious strength, to be victorious, to excel, to be a bright light. But instead, they chose to be disobedient and sinned against God, and, as a result, men became natural born sinners.
Watchman Nee in The Normal Christian Life writes, “We are sinners. we are members of a race of people who are constitutionally other than what God intended them to be. By the fall, a fundamental change took place in the character of Adam whereby he became a sinner, one constitutionally unable to please God; and the family likeness which we all share is no merely superficial one but extends to our inward character also. We have been ‘constituted sinners.'” As Oswald Chambers wrote, “there is a heredity of sin running straight through the human race.” In other words, we are everlasting ruins, but not hopeless!
Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. Romans 3:23-24 (Message)
Psalm 74 goes on to say in verse 12, “But (Yet!) you, O God, are my king from of old; you bring salvation (Hebrew = yeshua) upon the earth” (NIV). Jesus, Yeshua, came to save us out of this state of ruin.
Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.’ Zechariah 6:12-13 (NIV)
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” … But the temple he had spoken of was his body. John 2:19, 21 (NIV)
Jesus came to rebuild the everlasting ruins. Israel’s physical temple was always a picture of our Lord – it’s destruction and rebuilding a picture of his death and resurrection. The Messiah was foretold to be the rebuilder of the temple – but this time not a building, but a group of people, believers, followers, who would be what God first intended and reach that bright goal. Jesus did this by dying and rising again – the destruction of the Temple and it’s rebuilding – the destruction also of the sinful nature and the restoring of the people of God. And if you are in Him – “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead” (Romans 10:9) – you may feel like a hopeless ruin right now, but you are the rebuilt, glorious temple. Cry out to Him and rise!
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Romans 6:6-7 (NIV)
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7 (NIV)
In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. Ephesians 2:21 (NIV)
And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are God’s holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please him because of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5 (NLT)
I’ll walk through the fire
With my head lifted high
And my spirit revived in Your story
And I’ll look to the cross
As my failure is lost
In the light of Your glorious grace
Let the ruins come to life
In the beauty of Your Name
Rising up from the ashes
God forever You reign (from Glorious Ruins, Hillsong)
Christ is Risen! And we are risen with Him, in Him, no longer ruins, but a holy temple, bright and shining, glorious, victorious! Hallelujah!
[i] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
This blog is also a Bible study available for free use here Everlasting Ruins Bible study