God Brings His People Home
Ezra 1:1-8; 3:1-13
Ezra – one of the historical books written between 440 and 400 B.C. sometime after the exiles returned to Jerusalem from Babylon captivity. While the book bears Ezra’s name it is uncertain who actually authored the book.
Ezra was a Levitical priest, and may have held a high office in Persia.
The events of the book are from 538 to 438 B.C. during the reigns of the Persian kings Cyrus the Great, Darius I, Xerxes I, and Artaxerxes I.
Ezra would have been a contemporary of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
The Book of Ezra chronicles the return from exile, the struggles of the Jews to remain faithful to the Mosaic Law, the building and dedication of the Temple.
Life’s Verse - “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:10).
Good keeps His promise to bring His people home (Ezra 1:1-8).
Highlights the sovereignty of God to fulfill His promise of restoration. God was and God will forever remain faithful to His word.
NOTE – God chooses to use pagan kings to bring judgment (Babylon) to the Jews and then to restore (Persia) the Jews to their homeland (See 1:1).
“… the word of the LORD spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled.” – God will always do what God says. God was always at work to bring to pass what He had planned and promised. This should bring great comfort to believers during difficult times.
The prophecy of Jeremiah referred to in verse one – Jeremiah 29:10-11.
God’s judgment was never meant for Israel’s destruction; but a tool to correct their attitudes and activities (discipline).
Punishment – is an end in itself
Discipline – is a means to an end
LESSON – God, not governments, hold the future!
The giving for the support of the work reflects the principle of New Testament giving for the work of the ministry.
Consider this statement – Giving is both a response and a responsibility.
Remember – What we give is not ours, but God’s.
“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).
God’s people gather to make worship their first priority (Ezra 3:1-7).
How important was the rebuilding of the altar to their worship?
The altar was a place of cleansing and commitment.
Discuss the parameters of “even though they feared the surrounding peoples” to our worship (do we allow what others think to shape our worship?).
NOTE – Giving was an integral part of worship
It is important that we don’t allow the process of worship to determine the God we worship.
Can you think of a time that the order of worship became more important than the reality of WORSHIP?
While the Temple was important to their worship, it is important to realize that worship is not to be confined to a physical location …. They worshipped God prior to the completion of the Temple.
God’s people proclaim the goodness of the LORD (Ezra 3:8-13)
Worship should be at the heart (the focus) of our Christian community/Church.
NOTE – “work on the LORD’S house” and “joined together” speak to unity in service. We all have a role to play, a work to do … the congregation that works together succeeds
The challenge of this passage is to celebrate every success with praise and thanksgiving.
Praise is concerned with the “Who” while thanksgiving is concerned with the “What.”
Notice the different forms of worship: playing instruments, shouts of praise, and weeping. Worship is not to be confined to “what you think worship should be.”
“weeping” – emotions are important to worship!!!!
Theological Theme: God is sovereign, always working to accomplish His will. What He says He will do.
Christological Theme: The events of this book look forward to a time when the Kingdom of God shall be restored on earth … when Christ will rule from the throne of His father, David.
Missional Theme: Praise and thanksgiving witness the goodness of God (worship is not just about you). Hope is transmitted to others as you share the glory and goodness of God.