Summary: When the Jews returned from captivity the first item rebuilt was the altar. They renewed their worship of God as he took the initiative to restore them to their place in His Land.


Little Sarah was at her first wedding and gaped at the entire ceremony. When it was over, she asked her mother, "Why did the lady change her mind?"

Her mother asked, "What do you mean?"

"Well, she went down the aisle with one man, and came back with another one."

Changing our mind is not always a bad thing. In fact, it's the essence of repentance. A key definition of repentance -- "a change of mind leading to a change of life." Before we can change our lives, we must first of all have a change of mind about what we have done.

"For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death." (2 Corinthians 7:8-10)

2. The Story's Scope:

* God's Marriage to Israel

* Courted in Egypt

* Proposed at Sinai

* Married with commitment - Ketubah

* Unfaithfulness of Hebrews caused a separation

* Repentance of Hebrews brought restoration

3. Good things happened in captivity

a. Book of Daniel is a glimpse at the 70 year period

b. Synagogue?

c. Longing for God

d. Song: "You Don't Know What You've Got Until It's Gone" -- Or, more likely -- "You Always Knew What You Had; You Just Never Thought You'd Lose It."

4. Ezra 3.1-5

I. Worship Fundamentals

There is a story of a tourist in Washington, D.C., who telephoned the minister of a church where the president often attended. The tourist wanted to know if the president was expected to worship there that Sunday. The minister said, "That I don't know for certain, but I can tell you that we are expecting God to be here, and we hope his presence will attract a sizeable crowd."

* Many are here today to encounter God

* Sometimes we forget His presence

A. A Place to Start with Cyrus (1.2ff)

1. Based on Belief in God (Jeremiah 29.10)

2. Blessings of Treasure

3. Belongings of the Temple

B. A Place of Sacrifice (the Altar)

1. Built in the Fear of the LORD (3.2 -- Torah)

2. Built in spite of fearing people (3.3)

3. Built before the walls of the city; before the temple was rebuilt

C. A Place of Sanctuary (the Temple) -- 3.10-12

1. A Smaller Temple

2. A Significant Temple -- Haggai 2.9

The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.'"

3. Significance of the Temple:

a. God's Dwelling with Man -- 1.3

b. Man's worship of God -- 3.10-11

c. Central to Judaism

d. Today WE are the Temple -- 1 Corinthians 3.16

II. Challenges of the Foe

A dog chased a duck into a pond. The duck led the dog around the pond, tiring him out. When the dog lunged at the duck, the duck dove under the water. The dog looked around for the duck but could not find him. Then he realized how far from shore he was and swam back, exhausted. On common ground, the dog is stronger than the duck, but not in his territory.

Satan plays games with us and wears us down when we allow ourselves into his territory.

A. Samaritan Antagonists -- 4.1-4

1. Decline of offer for assistance

2. Delay of the work -- 4.24

B. Satan's Appearances

1. Constant animosity to God

2. Seen in his challenges

a. Jesus in the wilderness -- Matthew 4; Luke 4, etc.

b. You and I -- James 1.13-14

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; 14 but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.

C. Strategic Assaults

1. Sin = Rebellion; forsaking God -- 7.26

2. Reason for Captivity and wrath of God

D. Saving Actions

1. Restoration by God's Initiative -- 8.31

a. Gracious God -- 8.22

b. Remnant -- Proof of Love -- 9.8-9

2. Repentance = Man's Response -- 10.1, 11

III. The Victory Finale

A. Motivational Messages of Haggai and Zechariah -- 5.1-2

1. 16 Year Delay

2. Determined Resumption

B. Marking OUR Victory -- Revelation (future) and NOW -- Romans 8.31

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