Summary: The first century church is the goal of restoration. Ezra gives a unique perspective on the goal of restoration, as Israel is in the mode of restoration. Biblical reasoning and understanding can be applied to our modern application of restoration.
God’s Preparation for Restoration
Preached at the Laurel Church of Christ
On February 9, 2002
I. Nicknames are always of interest.
A. In college, my classmates gave me a couple; one that has followed me is “Ely the Prophet.”
B. A prophecy of mine came true. I am just kidding. My feelings of ministry, though, have revealed themselves also to others that I confided in.
1. Brian Tipton and John Cook, excellent ministers, just graduated from HSBS this past fall.
2. I was able to go in the spring of last year and speak some words of encouragement, and reveal the pitfalls in the road ahead in full-time ministry.
3. At six months reality hits the preacher right between the temples and some personal decisions have to be made
4. Frustration takes over and it seems that as a minister nothing that you are doing is working
C. Well I got a couple of phone calls over the last month, which confirmed my suspicion that I am not the only one that has experienced such a phenomenon.
D. You might say that my prophecy was true if you did not understand what prophecy is.
II. So, what is prophecy?
A. Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines it as a "miracle of knowledge, a declaration or description or representation of something future, beyond the power of human sagacity to foresee, discern, or conjecture."
B. The Bible proclaims that a prophet is one who speaks the words of God
C. God points to it as the proof that it is Him that speaks
1. Isaiah 42:8-9 “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”
2. We then in turn understand a true prophet on the terms on whether or not the prophecy comes true.
3. Deuteronomy 18:21-22 “You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?" If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.”
D. The Old Testament uses prophecy a great deal, but did you know there is also prophetic teaching in the New Testament.
1. Notices 2 Timothy 3:1-4:8 (Read this teaching of Paul to Timothy)
2. This prophecy sounds much like today’s situation, even with the Lord’s church.
a. What are we to do?
b. How do we stand firm?
3. The answer to our questions is simply: “We need restoration”
a. How can we do it properly
b. In the past restoration has been a philosophy largely credited to Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone.
c. This philosophy though has never been used in accordance with Scripture, at least in the limited study I have done.
d. I cannot find one instance where Campbell or Stone pointed to Scripture for the basis of restoration.
e. That is not to say I disagree with the restoration philosophy, but to say that Campbell and Stone missed a crucial step in preparation of restoration.
f. I believe the Bible will answer all questions we pose if we approach the text and find its true meaning. The answers will be revealed
g. So the question for is, “Has there ever been need for restoration?”
I. The prophecy and fulfillment of it (Ezra 1:1-4)
A. 8th and 7th Century prophets made prophecies concerning the future need of restoration for Judah.
1. Jeremiah 25:11-12 “This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt," declares the LORD, "and will make it desolate forever.”
a. Judah will be laid waste
b. Judah will serve Babylon for 70 years
c. God will punish Babylon
2. Isaiah 44:28-45:1,13 “This is what the Lord says…who says of Cyrus, ’He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, "Let it be rebuilt," and of the temple, "Let its foundations be laid.’ This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut…I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the LORD Almighty.”