THE STORY OF THE JOURNEY HOME #2: EZRA – REBUILDING GOD’S HOUSE
(Pastor Chris Jordan – Beausejour Church)
To listen to or download the audio MP3, click HERE.
INTRO TO TOPIC:
As we are coming to the end of the Old Testament, we see the children of God in exile in Babylon because of their disobedience. For 70 years, they have been strangers in a foreign land.
- The year is 537 B.C. The city of Jerusalem lies in ruins.
- The walls have been torn down and buildings have been looted.
- The temple built by Solomon 500 years earlier is no more. Utterly destroyed.
- The Babylonians took the gold and the silver and everything else of value.
- When we walk in disobedience, there are consequences for our sin.
1. THE DECREE TO REBUILD GOD’S HOUSE:
“1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, 2 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. 3 Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:1-3).
- God turns the heart of Cyrus, the Persian king, toward the Jews to release them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild His temple.
- Why does God make such a big deal about his temple?
- God’s passion: The temple is a picture of God’s passion to dwell with his people.
- God’s problem: Sin separates his people and the world from him.
- God’s solution: God requires a blood sacrifice so we can gain access to Him.
2. THE PEOPLE BEGAN BUILDING GOD’S HOUSE:
“10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the ordinance of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever toward Israel.” Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard afar off.” (Ezra 3:10-13).
- What a great beginning! Praising God for giving them a new beginning.
- But soon their adversaries started attacking them: “Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building.” (Ezra 4:4).
APPLICATION: Whenever we get serious about serving God and building His kingdom, the enemy will attack us and seek to discourage us:
- Build your relationship with God, build your family, overcome addictions, etc.
- Don’t get discouraged or quit building!
- The people began well, but lost their focus. God’s big thing becomes their little thing.
- The people abandoned the temple for 16 years and began building their own fine homes.
3. GOD SENDS HIS PROPHETS TO CHALLENGE THE PEOPLE:
“Then the prophet Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophets, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them.” (Ezra 5:1).
“1 In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, 2 “Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.” ‘ ” 3 Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple a to lie in ruins?” 5 Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! 6 “You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” (Haggai 1:1-6).
- How does God respond to misplaced priorities?
- God sends seasons of trial and suffering to call his people to their purpose.
- Although God sends times of testing, not all testing is a result of sin.
- Consider Job: He was righteous and yet experienced terrible suffering.
- Consider Jesus: He was perfect and yet experienced suffering like we don’t know.
- But sometimes God sends trials to wake us up so we will examine our ways.
“7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! 8 Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the Lord. 9 “You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. 11 For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” (Haggai 1:7-11).
- God calls them to focus on building His house, and we need to do the same!
- But thankfully, verse 12 tells us that the people obeyed God’s voice and responded.
“Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Return to Me,” says the Lord of hosts, “and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 1:3).
- God’s people had forgotten their initial passion – they had left their first love.
“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the Lord” (Zechariah 2:10).
- God’s desire was to be with His people, and He wants to be with us, today!
THE RESULT OF THEIR PREACHING:
“So the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they built and finished it.” (Ezra 6:14).
QUOTE: “If we put first things first, we get the second things thrown in; but if we put second things first, we lose both the first and second things.” (C.S. Lewis).
- God is either the big thing or he is nothing.
- God will call us from the distractions that pull us from his purpose.
- As of a result of seasons of testing, Israel got back on track fulfilling the purpose of God.
THE BIG IDEA: God is calling us to put Him first in our lives so that He can fully bless us.
CLOSING TEXT: Jesus said: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, NKJV).
- Do you need to repent and return to your first love, your first passion for God?
- Is God speaking to you through a season of testing? Are you listening?
- Are you being distracted from God’s purpose for your life? How?
- Commit to come back and make God’s big things your big things.
Pastor’s Blog: https://pastorchrisjordan.wordpress.com/