Summary: Who is worship supposed to be about? God. And it is His worship that He was restoring in Jerusalem in this passage. This message looks at restoring our religion.
1. Worshipped as family (3:1 – they gathered together as one man)
2. Worshipped fittingly (3:2 – in accordance with the Word of God)
3. Worshipped freely (3:3 – in spite of the fear of the nations)
4. Worshipped fully (3:4-5 – they kept all the feasts and offered all the offerings)
It seems like forever since we were in Ezra, doesn’t it? Well, it hasn’t been forever, but it has been a few weeks. So let me remind you of where we are. King Cyrus of Persia gave a decree that the Jews were to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. But God required certain things of the Jews before He would allow them to begin construction. He deemed four restorations necessary before His people were ready to rebuild the temple foundations. Before they ever left Babylon, He restored their resources. He restored the precious resources that were needed for temple worship. The Lord transferred the things He had set aside for His worship from the Babylonians to His people. After that restoration, you will remember that God restored His remnant. He provided all the different kinds of people He chose to perform His work. He provided leaders and followers. Well-known people and no-named people. He had a place for everyone to work. Then, God’s third restoration was when He restored their responsibility. Once they left Babylon and entered Jerusalem, He restored their responsibility of giving. Tonight we’re going to look at the fourth restoration God deemed necessary before His people could rebuild the temple foundations. Before they ever so much as turned a stone or dug a hole for the temple foundation, God restored their religion. After He restored their resources, their remnant and their responsibility, He restored their religion. Before God would bless them with the new temple, they had to get their worship right? How is our worship here at Brushfork Baptist Church tonight? I heard a story about a rescue squad paramedic who was being interviewed by the newspaper. The reporter asked him all the regular questions. “How long have you been on the rescue squad?” “What made you want to become a paramedic?” “What does your family think about the long hours?” All the standard questions. And then the reporter got to the good stuff. She asked him to tell her about the most challenging response he’d ever made. Here was his story: “A few Sunday mornings ago, we got a call to respond to the big Baptist church up the road in the middle of their Sunday morning worship service.” “When we got there, one of the ushers met us in the parking lot to let us know that an elderly member of the church died in the middle of the service.” “He checked the man’s pulse and breathing and was sure he was dead.” The reporter didn’t see the big deal, so she asked the paramedic, “What was so challenging about that?” The paramedic looked at her and said, “It wouldn’t have been, except for the fact that we carried out six guys before we found the one who was really dead.” That church had a worship problem, didn’t it? As a matter of fact, many churches today have worship problems. Some feel more like a hospital morgue than a worship service. On the other hand, some feel more like American Idol than a worship service. Both extremes are as problematic as the one that paramedic was talking about. That’s the thing about extremes. They’re easy to identify and it’s easy to see they’re wrong. But how do we know what is right and wrong in worship? Can we? Or do we have to judge worship the way I judge art? I don’t know anything about art, so the only way I can judge it is whether or not I like it. Whether or not it appeals to my senses. Is that how we are to judge worship? Whether or not it appeals to our senses? Whether or not we like it? I hope not—because worship isn’t about us. It’s not about what appeals to us. It’s not a self-centered thing—or at least it shouldn’t be. Who is worship supposed to be about? God. And it’s His worship that He was restoring in Jerusalem in our passage. Tonight we’re going to look at restoring our religion. In order to do that we have to look at worship. We’re going to look at four characteristics of restored religion. The first characteristic of restored religion is worshipping as a family. Look with me at verse 1.