Ezra Survey Part 1 The Eye of God
Ezra 1:1 The 1st year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah (29:10) might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing...
a) God communicates promises through authenticated spokesmen (2Pt 1:21)
b) God hasn't just spoken, He's also recorded (2Tim 3:16)
c) God always keeps His Word (Jn 10:35)
d) God's Word of judgment can be a word of blessing (Rom 11:22)
e) God moves Kings to fulfill his Word (Pr 21:1)
2...The LORD God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and has charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem
a) God controls the kingdoms of the earth and can give them to whomever He wills (Dan 2:37)
b) God can communicate directly (subjective revelation) to people, in accord with His written word (objective) (2Pt 1:19)
c) If God's first choice won't cooperate, his bench is very deep (Isa 44:28; 45:1)
3 Who...his people - his God be with him, and let him go...build the house of the LORD God of Israel, who is in Jerusalem.
a) God invites us to participate in His work (1Cor 3:12-15; Eph 4:15-16)
b) God's work is designed to bring Him glory (Isa 43)
God is inherently glorious (so part of our job is to help Him be seen by others) (Ex 33-34)
Living in risky dependence (so that He shows up to answer our prayers) (Ex 14:31)
Obedience which leads to Christlikeness (others see Christ in/through us) (Jn 17:4; 2Cor 3:18)
Reward gathering and getting (causes His grace to be seen both now & then) (2Th 1:10;)
Y'ng 'ns (Reproductive Disciplemaking - causes the above means to be multiplied) (Jn 15:8)
4 And whosoever remains in any place where he sojourns, let the men of his place help him with silver...gold...goods...beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God...5 Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin...priests...Levites with all whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD 6 all that were about them strengthened their hands...with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered. 7 Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods;
a) God's Spirit gives us the initial nudge (Phil 2:14)
b) God takes care of the needs of His servants through the willing giving of His people (2Cor 9:8-15; and next)
c) God provides what is necessary for His work, while we start doing it (God’s work done God’s way won’t lack God’s resources)
2:1 The children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city;
a) God uses a disciplined and chastened people to do His work (Isa 66:2)
b) If we don’t respond correctly to authority, God places us under a harsher taskmaster (Ps 106:41)
c) It's never to early or late to do the right thing; it's always time to begin again (2Cor 6:2)
3:1 The 7th month the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.
a) God has a perfect timetable (Dan 9:25)
b) God builds the inner individual before the outward temple; Preparation precedes production (1Pt 3:15)
c) God requires a unity of heart, mind, soul and place that cuts against the grain of our individualism (Rm 15:5-6)
3:2 Jeshua...Zerubbabel...brethren built the altar to offer burnt offerings written in the law of Moses the man of God. 3 And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries...burnt offerings morning and evening. 4 They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as written...as the duty of every day required;
a) God works through teams of interdependent people (Eph 4:15-16; Phil 1:27)
b) God's work starts with sacrificial, total commitment according to His Word (Rom 12:1-2)
c) Worthy Worship is a whole soul (mind-cognitive, will-volitional, emotion, body-act) Response to Revelation (Gen 22)
d) God protects us while we're doing His will, daily dependent upon Him (His Work, His Way) (Ps 91)
3:7 They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.
a) God can use "unsanctified" means to accomplish His work (Ex 3:22)
b) We should not give God that which costs us nothing (voluntary, according to purpose 2Cor 9:7)
3:10 When the builders laid the foundation...praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because He is good, for his mercy endures for ever toward Israel. All the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
a) There's joy and cause for celebration in doing God's work (Acts 5:41; 16:25)
b) Worship must be according to God's directive (John 4:24)
c) Our praise for the person of God is rooted in our thanks for the acts of God (Ps 100:4)
d) God’s infinite goodness and unending loyalty are the basis of our relationship with Him (Ps 106:1)
3:12 But many of the...ancient men, that had seen the first house, foundation of this house was laid, wept with a loud voice
a) There are consequences for disobedience, even though there is forgiveness (Num 13-14)
b) We should lament over the causes rather than the consequences of our sin (Mal 2:13-14)
4:1 Now when the adversaries of Judah heard that the children of the captivity were building the temple to the LORD God of Israel; 2...Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as you; and we sacrifice to him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up here 4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, 5 And hired counselors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus, until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
a) God's work, done God's way will always face opposition from within and without (Jn 16:33; 1Jn 4:4)
b) Friends and companions should further (not frustrate) God’s objectives for each other (Amos 3:3; Eph 4:29)
4:6 The reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they [unto him] an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 12 Be it known unto the king, that the Jews...building the rebellious and the bad city...13...if this city be built...not pay toll, tribute...damage the revenue of the kings. 14 Now because we have maintenance from the king's palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king's dishonor...15 That search may be made...city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces...
21 Give commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not built... 22 Take heed now that you fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings? 23...they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power. 24 Then ceased the work, until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
a) God plans delays to allow us opportunities to display the nobler virtues; like patience, fortitude, perseverance (Rom 5:3-4) etc.
b) If only God can remove some obstacles, then don’t badger Him nor develop an ulcer until He does (Mt 6:7-8)
5:1 Then the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah prophesied...in the name of the God of Israel 2 Then rose up Zerubbabel and Jeshua and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them. 5 But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius
a) God honors steps of faith taken in response to His Word, even in opposition to the state (Acts 5:29)
b) We need to make sure that “prophets” are saying the same thing God would say (Gal 1:8)
c) The eye of God watches out for His people (2Chron 16:9)
5:11 And thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was built these many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and set up. 12 But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar...13 Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God.
a) Our safest identity is that of a humble servant of the Most High God (Dan 3:26)
b) Acknowledging ourselves as the cause of our problems enables us to correct them. (Gal 6:7-8)
6:7 Let the work of this house of God alone...8...expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered...9...offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests...let it be given them day by day without fail:
10 That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savors unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons. 11 Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this. 14 And 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], according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.
a) God allows/ordains difficulties for the purpose of blessing us (Gen 50:20)
b) We need to learn to expect and seek God blessing (Pr 2&8)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion/Response:
1. How does one differentiate between inside information from God and indigestion from Guido’s?
2. What are the genesis and implications of “God needs us” rather than “God allows/invites us”?
3. What do we do if we lack the means to do something we believe God wants us to do?
4. What does a fit work/teammate for building something for God’s glory look like? Are you one?
5. What are some of the difficulties God has allowed into your life? How could it turn into a blessing?