EZRA and NEHEMIAH (Re-Building the Temple)
This has been a very interesting study, both historical knowledge and spiritual knowledge concerning the return of this nation. Question has arrived. To my surprise, I didn't know that Ezra was a priest, and Nehemiah was a governor.
Ezra is the one person who is prominent in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Both books end with prayers of confession (; ) and a subsequent separation of the people from the sinful practices into which they had fallen. There's a good concept of the nature of the encouraging messages of Haggai and Zechariah, who are introduced in this narrative ( ), may be seen in the prophetic books that bear their names. Very interesting!
The Book of Ezra covers the return from captivity to rebuild the Temple up to the decree of Artaxerxes, the event covered at the beginning of the Book of Nehemiah. Haggai was the main prophet in the day of Ezra, and Zechariah was the prophet in the day of Nehemiah.
We see in the Book of Ezra a continuation of the biblical theme of the remnant. Whenever disaster or judgment falls, God always saves a tiny remnant for Himself—Noah and his family from the destruction of the flood; Lot's family from Sodom and Gomorrah; the 7000 prophets reserved in Israel despite the persecution of Ahab and Jezebel. When the Israelites were taken into captivity in Egypt, God delivered His remnant and took them to the Promised Land. Some fifty thousand people return to the land of Judea in , and yet, as they compare themselves with the numbers in Israel during its prosperous days under King David, their comment is, "We are left this day as a remnant." The remnant theme is carried into the New Testament where Paul tells us that "at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace" ( ). Although most people of Jesus' day rejected Him, there remained a set of people whom God had reserved and preserved in his Son, and in the covenant of His grace. Throughout all generations since Christ, there is the remnant of the faithful whose feet are on the narrow road that leads to eternal life ( ). This remnant will be preserved through the power of the Holy Spirit who has sealed them and who will deliver them safely at the last day ( ; ).
The Book of Ezra is a chronicle of hope and restoration. For the Christian whose life is scarred by sin and rebellion against God, there is great hope that ours is a God of forgiveness, a God who will not turn His back on us when we seek Him in repentance and brokenness (). The return of the Israelites to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple are repeated in the life of every Christian who returns from the captivity of sin and rebellion against God and finds in Him a loving welcome home. No matter how long we have been away, He is ready to forgive us and receive us back into His family. He is willing to show us how to rebuild our lives and resurrect our hearts, wherein is the temple of the Holy Spirit. As with the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, God superintends the work of renovating and rededicating our lives to His service.
The opposition of the adversaries of God to the rebuilding of the temple displays a pattern that is typical of that of the enemy of our souls. Satan uses those who would appear to be in sync with God's purposes to deceive us and attempt to thwart God's plans. describes the deceptive speech of those who claim to worship Christ but whose real intent is to tear down, not to build up. We are to be on guard against such deceivers, respond to them as the Israelites did, and refuse to be fooled by their smooth words and false professions of faith.
In my conclusion these are thoughts to take in consideration: God bless you!
1. Nehemiah was obedient to God and His Word. He refused to compromise. He was obedient to the will of God. He condemned the evils severely. He had fearless convictions and stood by them.
2. Nehemiah kept focused on the right issues. He refused to let people side track him. He knew his priorities and stuck with them. He kept focused on his goals and objectives. Nehemiah kept working for a permanent correction to the evils of his day. But he also had the future of the nation in mind.
3. He was a man of prayer (13:14; 22; 29; 31). He was bold in the presence of God. He was consistent in his devotion to the Lord.
4. Nehemiah took bold action when he knew it to be the will of God. When you deal with sin you have to deal with it head on. You cannot put off what must ultimately be done. The longer you wait, the worse it gets.
5. Has a Tobiah wormed his way into your life and now sits enthroned where Jesus Christ should be? Is the temple of the Holy Spirit cluttered with Tobiah's filth and defilement? Do you need to do some spiritual temple cleaning so Christ will be the Lord of your personal life? What are some attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, and compromises that diminish your love for Christ?
6. Has a daughter of Sanballat captured your affection and stolen your loyalty to Christ? How sad when Christian youth choose to enter into a marriage covenant with unbelievers. It would be far better to break your heart now than later when life really gets complicated. Yes, it does grieve the heart of God.
There can be no half-measures in the Christian life. Throw Tobiah out of the temple. Clean it up now.
Nehemiah was abandoned to the will of God. That is the first requirement of a great leader and all followers.
This great builder, reformer and Jewish leader were a man with his faith focused on God. He concluded his testimony to God's faithfulness, praying, "Remember me, O my God, for good." That is my prayer!
The apostle came to the end of his life's ministry and declared: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Father God, we come to in Jesus' name, we honor You, we give glory and praise for the things You have done; Thank You for the gift You have put in our lives. Thank You for understanding us, and for Your grace and mercy in our lives. Help us to accept Your discipline, and honor Who You are. Please bless us so we want disappoint You. Help us to make it our priority to obey You in everything. Forgive us so we can enter into Your presence with thanksgiving in our hearts. Bless us to be bold to come before You with all our problems, and our praises. We will enter Your gates with thanksgiving in our heart, and into Your courts with praises. Thank You, Father. Bless us to learn from all the mistakes we learn about those in this study, and help us to be bold like Ezra, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Zerubbabel, and all those prophets who came before us. Help us not to accept anything from the enemy, in Jesus' name. Bless us to keep our temple clean and presentable and acceptable for Your Holy Spirit to dwell in us always. Thank You for Jesus bringing us out of captivity and darkness, and place us in Your marvelous light. This study has been a blessing, Lord. Please, Father, continue to bless us with the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to live a holy life before You. We need Your presence in our lives daily. Continue to help us build our live in a holy manner. Bless our country, Lord, and bless all countries that honor You as the God of all creation, this we pray in Jesus' name. Lord God, continue to save those who are lost. AMEN.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
See you in the next study
Evangelist Claudia Jordan