Summary: In this sermon, we see how God worked through the prophets to get the building of the temple resumed and we see how God is always with us providing what is needed along the way.
A. How many of you have seen the “Keep Calm and Carry On” Posters?
1. “Keep Calm and Carry On”- this slogan, printed on a colored background and topped with a royal crown, has cropped up everywhere.
a. It is emblazoned on everything from totes and T-shirts to coffee mugs and throw pillows.
2. Here are some silly renditions of it:
a. Keep calm and pretend it’s not Monday.
b. Keep calm it’s almost Friday.
c. Here’s an old-school: Keep calm and carry on my wayward son. (Kansas song)
d. This works for some people: Keep calm and eat bacon.
e. For other people it’s: Keep calm and eat chocolate.
f. For parents it’s: Keep calm and carry diapers, cheerios, a sippy cup, Purell, a binky, more diapers…
g. In honor of Father’s Day it’s: Keep calm and call dad.
h. Unfortunately, some people’s motto is: Freak out and break stuff.
i. Or for some people you say to them, “Keep calm!” And they say, “I am calm!”
3. So, where did this bloody thing come from, and why has it become the fad of the moment?
4. Well, this message first appeared in Great Britain as World War II began in 1939.
a. British officials printed it on posters designed to offset panic and discouragement during the war.
b. Actually, It had only limited distribution, and thus was little known.
c. It was rediscovered in 2000, and has been re-issued by a number of private companies, and has been used as the decorative theme for a range of products, thus its’ present popularity.
B. For our purposes in today’s sermon, in addition to “keep calm and carry on,” I want us to think about “Keep calm and trust God.”
1. Today as we continue our sermon series from Ezra and Nehemiah, we are going to learn how important it is for God’s people to keep calm and trust God no matter what obstacles they are facing.
2. Here’s a quick review of the story from Ezra that we have learned so far:
a. The Jewish exiles returned to the land of Israel after 70 years in captivity.
b. God had opened the door for them to do so by moving the heart of King Cyrus of Persia.
c. And so over 42,000 Israelites picked up and moved back to the land of Judah.
d. Once they had settled in they had to overcome their own fear and enemy interference as they began to rebuild the temple.
e. Once they finished the foundation, their opponents “hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose and so Israel’s enemies successfully delayed the project.
f. We ended last week with the last verse of Ezra 4: 24 Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
g. And so the work on the temple of God came to a screeching halt for about 16 years – from 536 BC to 520 BC.
3. Today we are going to learn how God helped the exiles to keep calm, trust God and carry on.
I. The Story
A. Let’s pick up our story at the beginning of Ezra chapter 5: 1 Now Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the prophet, a descendant of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. 2 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, helping them. (Ezra 5:1-2)
1. Just like every spiritual advance in history, from Abraham’s relocation to the missionary expansion in the book of Acts, it always begins with a word from the Lord.
a. And every spiritual advance in response to God’s call, also is quickly tested and threatened.
2. Thankfully, after the ominousness and discouragement of chapter 4, chapter 5 returns to the optimistic tone that dominated chapter 3.
3. So how did God get them moving again? He sent messages to His people through two prophets – Haggai and Zechariah.
a. These two prophets were called upon by God to encourage the people to resume building the temple.
b. Situations of hopelessness can always be effectively countered by the bold proclamation of God’s Word.
4. Thankfully, we possess the very words that God gave to Haggai and Zechariah.
a. We would greatly benefit from studying their books of prophesy.
b. The two prophets and their books are quite a contrast from each other – about the only thing they had in common is that they were both prophets of God.
c. Haggai’s book is only two chapters long, but Zechariah’s book is much longer – 14 chpts.