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Summary: God created material things for us to use to glorify Him. The problem is, we have placed His stuff in the wrong account. We have taken God’s stuff out of His glory account and transferred it to our materialism account. And when it’s in our account, it’

1. The first account transfer is from one house to another.

2. The second account transfer is from one hand to another.

3. The third account transfer is from one land to another.

EZRA 1:7-11

In 1985, the year that I graduated High School, do you know what the #2 song on the Billboard charts was? It was a song by Madonna called “Material Girl.” And if a song ever embodied the times, it was that one. You could probably consider that song the national anthem of shopping malls, couldn’t you? We’re coming up on that time of the year when it seems that everything is geared around material things. But are material things bad? In and of themselves, are things bad? No—materialism is bad. But in and of themselves, material things aren’t bad. It’s how they’re used that makes them good or bad. There are people in the world today that believe things are inherently bad. We call them monks. Or Buddhists. Or Hindus. Or New Agers. Or Wiccans. They believe that the only way to be free from evil is to be free from material things—including your own body. The Bible teaches something very different. The Bible teaches that in and of themselves, material things are good. Why? Because God created them. In reality, material things are good gifts from God. It’s just that most of the time we use them for the wrong purposes. You remember that Israel had spent years using everything God had given them for the wrong purposes. God gave them the Law—they ignored it and disobeyed it. God gave them the land—they abused it and were disobedient in it. God gave them the temple—they worshipped idols in it. So God sent them into exile. Now it’s time for Him to bring them back. Israel underwent four stages of restoration before the Lord deemed they were ready to rebuild the temple foundations. Isn’t it interesting that the first stage was about restoring stuff? Restoring material items? It was about restoring the items God had sanctified for the purpose of His worship. Do you remember back to the book of Exodus? Remember when Moses came down from the mountain the second time with the stone tablets in his hands? After Moses gave the people the Word of the Lord, what did they do? They started making stuff. They created material things—the tabernacle, the ark, the altar, the priestly garments. All the stuff that was to be used in the worship of the Lord. And that material stuff must have been pretty important to God because He spent the last 5 chapters of Exodus describing it in the minutest detail. God is creator of all. And as creator of all, He owns it all. Material things are important to God, otherwise He wouldn’t have created them. But the reason material things are important to God isn’t because He needs them. They are important to Him because of how we use them. God created material things for us to use to glorify Him. The problem is, we have placed His stuff in the wrong account. Have you ever put your money into someone else’s bank account? That can cause a lot of problems, can’t it? We have put God’s stuff in the wrong account. And all you have to do is open your eyes to the world around you and you can see the problems it’s caused. We have taken God’s stuff out of His glory account and transferred it to our materialism account. And when it’s in our account, it’s not being used for His glory like He intended. We need to fix that tonight. Tonight, I want us as a church to restore the use of God’s things for His glory. We’re going to look at three account transfers we need to make for that to happen. The first account transfer is from the account of one house to another. Look with me in verse 7:

EZRA 1:7

The first account transfer is from one house to another. Can you imagine what an awful sight it must have been to see the beautiful vessels of God’s temple in the hands of pagans? They had been specially created for use in the worship of God. They had been made from only the finest gold and silver. They were decorated by only the most skilled artisans. And after all that, they were sanctified with the blood of a pure animal. All of that care and attention to insure they were only the best. To guarantee they were always pure. To make sure they were the finest and most presentable they could be before they were placed into service for the Lord. But not only were the items the purest they could be, they couldn’t be used by just anybody. They were only allowed to be used by the priests. Priests who were called out and set aside specifically by God. Priests who had to cleanse and purify themselves with water and blood before touching them. Priests who could only use them in specifically prescribed ways to honor and glorify God. It was bad enough when those priests began to misuse them. But can you imagine what it was like after the temple was destroyed and those vessels were carried off? They weren’t just carried off for their resale value. They weren’t just carried off so they could be used by ordinary people. They were carried off so they could be used in the pagan temples of idols. Vessels that God called for. That He provided the materials for. That He gifted artisans to design. That were supposed to be for the sole purpose of bringing Him honor and glory. And there they were in the temples of false gods. Temples where the most vile, immoral, disgusting things took place as part of their worship. Temple prostitutes, orgies, even human sacrifice went on there. That was where God’s vessels were when the Babylonian king Cyrus brought them forth. Years before when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple, he took the vessels from Jerusalem. He took them from Jerusalem and brought them to Babylon. He took them from God’s house and placed them in the house of demons. And now it was time for them to be transferred back. God’s resources were being transferred. They were being transferred from pagan houses to God’s house. That’s the great thing about things, isn’t it? Things are really just resources. And when resources have been used for the wrong purposes, all it takes to change them is a transfer. I want you to think about the resources God has given you. Think about the vessels He’s given you. What have you devoted your precious vessels to? Just like the vessels of the house of the Lord, God called for your vessels. He provided your vessels. He gifted you to earn and build and maintain your vessels. So what have you done with them? Have you devoted them for service in His house? Or have you allowed the pagan god of materialism to plunder and defile them? In our passage, God’s precious vessels had been taken away to the houses of demons. But now they were being restored. They were being transferred from pagan houses back to God’s house. Not only were they transferred from one house to another, they were transferred from one hand to another. Look at verses 8-10:

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