Exile, Ben-Hur, and A Future Hope

August of 2016 I stepped on to the brand new campus of Gateway Seminary to start my third year and final semester of seminars in my pursuit of an Old Testament Ph.D. I began this journey two years ago in 2014 and you can read about it HERE. I cannot even begin to explain the ups, the downs, and the growth that happen in a Ph.D. program. Here I am still persevering, still running, still asking for God to equip me for tasks that I am inadequate to complete.

After the return from the exile, Ezra records the sentiment of the people as they viewed the laying of the foundation of the second temple. Ezra 3:11 tells us that “all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid,” but Ezra 3:12 also tells us that many of the old men who had seen the first temple “wept with a loud voice.” Furthermore, Ezra 3:13 tells us that sound of joy could not be distinguished from the sound of weeping. The Lord had been faithful in bringing Israel back from exile, but the second temple was not as glorious as the first. There was joy and pain in the return. The same has been true of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s move from Mill Valley, CA to become Gateway Seminary in Ontario, CA.
Not many schools move. Not many students experience the move of a school in the middle of their Ph.D. program. Not many schools move from one of the most beautiful pieces of property in the world to the Inland Empire. There is the sound of much rejoicing and weeping.

Some students have likened the seminary’s exit from Mill Valley, CA to Ontario, CA to Ben-Hur’s chained slog through the desert to find himself enslaved for the unforeseeable future. Coincidentally a re-make of Ben-Hur was released this week as the first semester of classes begin at the New Campus. My drive from SLC to LA felt like Ben-Hur’s exodus as well. Long, hot, and I just wanted some water. On my drive, I questioned my ability to finish the program, my reasons for being in the program, and my distaste of my new drive and final destination. But Christ gave Ben-Hur water and lifted his head signaling a future hope.

God is faithful. God had a bigger plan for Israel and he has a bigger plan for Gateway. Wise decisions have been made for the seminary based on its mission and the future could not be brighter. As I stepped onto the new campus I was stunned. The new campus is inspiring. I spent the day rejoicing with my fellow students as we caught up with one another from the summer, explored the campus together, and encourage each other to finish the race. We worshiped together as we began the semester’s studies and living water began to flow. Our heads were lifted.

God was faithful to bring Israel back from the exile. The second temple seemed to be lacking compared to the first, but little did the returnees know that the glory of this house would far outstrip the first as the Son of God himself would walk right in the doors (Haggai 2:9). The new campus of Gateway Seminary is amazing, though it is not the original campus with all its memories and beauty, but we will pray and hope that this campus will far surpass the first.

We need Christ to show up. We need the Spirit of God to envelope and indwell this place and everything that goes on here. This brand new campus is a grand opportunity to pursue Christ in new ways and invite him to be a part of all the learning and training that takes place here. The new campus is grand, but my prayer is that Christ will show up and transforms the next generation of pastors and teachers that it produces. Thank the Lord for this brand new campus.

This campus is so exciting that I wanted to share a few photos. Next time you are in Los Angeles or fly through the Ontario Airport take a little time to come and explore this new campus and pray that presence of God on this campus will far surpass the first. Come weep with us, come rejoice with us, and come pray for a bright future.

*The pictures in this post are the original work of www.entrustedwiththegospel.com.
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