Sacred Altars • Ezra 1:1-4, 2:1-2, 3:1-7
OPENING IDEA: Where are your Sacred Spaces in life? WEDDING. SIGN. LIFE EVENT. FOOTBALL STADIUM. CAMP. CEMETERY. We often return to these sacred spaces to revisit and/or sometimes to rebuild or resurrect the memory or even that place in life. Feel like we did at that time. Times we attempt to repay for mistakes & failures.
INTRODUCTION: Often times when we think of a sacred altar we focus more on being in the right PLACE rather than being GOD’S PERSON who is filled with GOD’S PRESENCE. (REF JOHN 4 – Woman @ the Well… (place vs presence))
1)I must RECOGNIZE the stirring of the SPIRIT (1:1-4)
• God stirred the spirit of Cyrus King of Persia
• Are you recognizing the stirring of the Holy Spirit or have you grown so comfortable that you are contented not hearing from the Spirit?
• Example of our pug – snores, noisy, but we are so familiar with it we do not notice it anymore until a guest stays with us and they comment on it.
When God speaks He is already in the process of doing what He says. - Henry Blackaby, The Ways of God
2)I must RETURN from SLAVERY (2:1-2)
• 900 mile journey from Babylon to Israel – 4 month journey
• Only 50K made the decision to return slavery? Where were the others? Most Jews had settled in Babylon…. Comfortable… No desire to return to their Promised Land. Content with security & material gain – made decision to remain in their slavery.
Steps to Return from Whatever Enslaves You…
1.Concern Greater Than My Comfort.
2.Confess My Contentment
3.Commit to His Calling. – Acts 17
3)I must REFUSE the tendency to SEGMENT(3:1-2a)
• Satan’s greatest strategy against the church is to isolate & separate. We either become spiritual loners or our little groups (call it different things)
• Segment on minor issues (worship times, styles, ages, dress)
• “One man” - They all agreed to the value of the temple and worked together towards that…
• “Fellow-SHIP” from “In the Grip of Grace” by Max Lucado
SEE Ephesians 4:4-6 (ESV) – unity of the church (7 ones)
4)I must RELINQUISH SUPREMACY of my life (3:2b-7)
Altar = place for burnt offerings – this is the altar upon which the sacrifices were made to atone (to satisfy) for sin.
886BC since temple had been destroyed
a.THEY RE-EVALUATED THEIR PRIORITIES (God & His Law @ center)
b.THEY REORDERED THEIR LIVES (12x vv2-7 ref. offering, offer, give) – it was more than a weekly activity
c.THE RELINQUISHED SUPREMACY
CONCLUSION: Contrast OT Altar w/ NT Altar… Jesus ref. Jn 2:19. He temple of His Body. Jn 10. His sacrifice. 1 Cor. 3:16. Building of temple/altar & foundation of Christ.
Goal is not to rebuild… or resurrect… or repay God for our sins… HE IS THE SACRIFICE. OUR ONLY RESPONSE is simply to relinquish supremacy in our lives so that the power of the Holy Spirit would be released to work freely in and through our lives. Are you experiencing His power? Have you relinquished supremacy to Him?