Summary: Anytime the people of God say let us rise up and build the devil and his forces rise up in opposition. Rebuilding Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Walls, and the coming reunification of Israel. Link inc. to formatted text, audio/video, PowerPoint.
Ezra / Nehemiah
Last time we looked at the Captivity of Israel. Now the 70 years are up and they are returning home...in 3 stages:
· Under Zerubbabel – 536 BC
· Under Ezra – 455 BC
· Under Nehemiah – 445 BC
The prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi speak to this generation.
About 50,000 Jews went home in the first wave w/ Zerubbabel. That’s only about 10% of all that were in Babylonian captivity. Why? They had grown too comfortable there in Babylon. The world and its attraction held them there, far from home.
We cannot allow geography or finances mask the voice of God from our ears. I love the south and the west, hills and mountains. But more than that I want to do God’s will. He may want me here or in a foreign country...and it’s not about my comfort but His direction. We should never put down roots too deep for God to be able to get us to ‘branch out’ according to His will. Actually, nothing in this world should be home to us!
David Livingston: “I had rather be in the heart of Africa in the will of God than on the throne of England out of the will of God.”
Ill.--May our lives be more like a channel than like a river. A channel is straight, cut out with a purpose, and it goes places quickly. A river meanders, following the path of least resistance, and takes much longer to go anywhere, and uses up a lot of resources and area in getting there.
Joke—teenage boy wanted to bring a goat home. His mother objected to him having this pet. “Where will you keep him.” He said, “In my room.” “You can’t!” “Why not?” “The smell, son!” The boy answered, “Oh mama, he’ll get used to it!”
The Jews who remained were geographically backslidden, and spiritually as well, happily at home in the place of sin.
Another place we want to avoid is the place of complacency. I’m talking about when we don’t care about our situation. It’s one thing to not have a prayer life, and it’s another thing to not care.
[Bible reading / witnessing / serving]
And some lost people know they are lost...and don’t care! Some sit thru invitations, and each one gets easier to listen to and overlook.
90% didn’t want to go back. But the 50,000 who did go back wanted to rebuild from the ashen heaps remaining. Solomon’s temple was a big pile of rubble. [later Nehemiah’s group went back to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem]
Anytime the people of God say let us rise up and build the devil and his forces rise up in opposition. The only way you can know you are going in the opposite direction of the devil is when you meet him face to face!
The devil uses: discouragement and compromise [Ezra 4:1-3]
These were unbelievers who said, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. They were trying to join in and be a part, but they weren’t believers in the one true God. They would have added to their numbers and labor force, but would have insured ruin and disaster. We need not hold hands with the world to do God’s work. We must do God’s work in God’s way.
v. 4-6 The devil also uses slander. “If we can’t have our way then we’ll make sure you don’t get your way.”