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.”
Haggai and Zechariah were who God sent to be cheerleaders saying, yes, you can rebuild...you can do it, and God will help you!
1 ...the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel ...saying, 2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. 3 Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? 5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. 6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. 7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. 9 Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. 12 Then Zerubbabel ... with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD. 13 Then spake Haggai the LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD. 14 And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel ... and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God...