to all my followers, I’m back – I have transitioned into a new job, I now work as the Executive Director of the Galveston Baptist Association – Yes I have moved from Illinois to Texas. I have been behind on my posts for the last 6 weeks. Therefore during the weeks until January 2019; I will use the reading/reflection time to update the posts I have not addressed in our reading.
Today we look at Ezra – I will go back and get Eccles. and Songs of Solomon later.
The time has now passed for the Babylonian captivity [70 years], the edict from King Cyrus has been given and the Jews as they are called can now return home. As a side note both Ezra and Nehemiah should be viewed as almost one book. The city of Zion lies in shambles. The only inhabitants are the common people and the displaced ones from the Assyrians and Babylonians. Jerusalem is in ruins! Something that Israel/Judah never conceived. I find it interesting that we have just celebrated the 77th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Needless to say, many felt America was safe from any foreign attacks. We must be careful in our isolation/leisure for it will lead us into a false sense of security.
Another side note – Ezra and Nehemiah have been used extensively by Church Revitalizers in the last 10 years as a “model” to restore and rebuild churches that are dying, declining and plateaued. Also so we can connect the dots, it was during the 70 yrs that we get the Book of Esther. Even while Israel was in captivity, God was still with His people.
Ezra is a priest while Nehemiah is an administrator/leader. Both of these men were needed to rebuild the City of God. I find it interesting that King Cyrus granted all the materials and resources for Zerubbaal to rebuild – he was the first to go back and try to restore the city and Temple. However, all the resources were used by the people to build “cedar lined” houses. When questioned about this – the people retorted, “it’s not a good time to build.” How ironic that when God gives the order and provides the materials from a pagan king, the people of “God” say the time is not right? Cyrus gives a great testimony “He is the God who is in Jerusalem.” Cyrus even tells Ezra that God has appointed him to build again. I wonder how many churches have sought the answer for their churches from the LORD, but when the answer comes, refuse to act? Dying churches don’t die overnight, but a consistent rejection of God over a period of time. When God moves – so must we!
All the vessels taken from the Holy of Holies were returned, the materials provided, the people let go to return to Jerusalem, some 42,000. Plus animals and such that would be needed to establish life again.
Not just anyone could return to Israel and claim property – the inheritance rights of the returnees – in fact there is a great spiritual application – Chapter 2:59-60, tells us about those who could not prove their ancestry, were exclude. There is a record book called the Book of Life; everyone who has rights to the inheritance granted to them by our Heavenly Father MUST be found in the book. If your/our names are blotted out – God will say unto us “Depart from Me , I never knew you.”
In the book of Ezra we find that the task was to restore the Temple, and that Nehemiah was to rebuild the walls of the city. It makes perfect sense that when a people have been so devastated by their captors, the first place that must be reestablished has be the place of worship. If a Church is going to be revitalized, it must return to the place of worshipping God in His holy sanctuary. Too many churches elect to do the “administrative tasks” and address organizational issues – as I have said so many times, if we do not have God first place in our lives, this includes the Church Life – then all that we could/would do would be like rearranging the chair on the deck of the Titanic – the boat is still going to sink!