Summary: The presence of the temple and the work the remnant did to built it stood as a testimony and a powerful witness for God. What stands as a powerful witness to our age? The Word of God sent out from the Church of God proclaimed by the people of God.
1. The first effect that comes from having a powerful witness is on the created
2. The second effect that comes from having a powerful witness is on the called
3. The third effect that comes from having a powerful witness is on the comfortable
Tonight’s passage is 31 verses long. It runs all the way from 7:11 through to 8:14. There are three main parts to this passage. First there is a letter from the Persian king Artaxerxes that runs from 7:11-7:26. And in that letter he addresses three groups of people. He addresses the Jewish remnant as a whole in verses 13-20. He addresses his own Persian government treasurers in verses 21-24. And He addresses Ezra specifically in verses 21-26. The second main part to tonight’s passage is in 7:27-28. That is Ezra’s response because of the king’s letter. Finally, the first 14 verses of chapter 8 give us a list of people who went up with Ezra from Babylon to Jerusalem to add to the remnant who was already there. Now, how in the world does that apply to us? How in the world does a 2500 year old letter and a list of names apply to us today? Well, in order to figure that out, we have to look at what caused all this to happen. Of course we know that God is in control and that He ultimately caused it to happen. But God uses means to accomplish His will. So, what was it that God used to cause the wicked king Artaxerxes to write this wonderful letter? What was it that God used to cause Ezra to come out of his years of inaction and spring into action? What was it that God used to cause the people to break out of their comfortable complacency and join God’s work in Jerusalem? It was the presence of a powerful witness. By the time we get to our passage, the temple in Jerusalem had been completed for 59 years. For 59 years, the temple had stood as a powerful witness of what God can do through the willing hands of His people. Hands that didn’t have enough money. Hands that didn’t have enough resources. Hands that didn’t even have enough hands. But hands that accomplished what God had told them to do. And what He had told them to do stood as a powerful witness to who He is. See, the temple wasn’t for the remnant that built it. They received tremendous blessing from it. But it wasn’t primarily for them. The temple was primarily to be a powerful witness to those outside of Jerusalem. And it was. And that’s what this passage shows us tonight. It shows us the powerful witness of the temple to that age. So if God designed the temple to stand as such a powerful witness to that age, what has He planned to stand as a powerful witness to our age? His Word, sent out from His church, proclaimed by His people. And when that happens, it is a powerful witness. That’s what I want for us tonight. I want us to be the powerful witnesses God has called us to be. When people of Ezra’s day saw the temple of God standing in Jerusalem, they knew there was a God in Israel and YHWH is His name. When people see us proclaiming the gospel everywhere we go, they will know there is a God in Brushfork Baptist Church and Jesus Christ is His name. That’s what I want for us. As that happens, there will be certain effects. And that’s what we’re looking at tonight. Tonight, we’re going to look at three effects that come from having a powerful witness. The first effect is on the created. We see that in Artaxerxes letter from 7:11-26.