Summary: Sometimes the toughest thing about a project is knowing where to start.
Have you ever had a project that was so big, you just didn’t know where to start? My garage is like that. It was a mess before we moved in and it’s only gotten worse. It absolutely drives me nuts. Several years ago, when we lived in Mississippi, I had a beautiful tool shed. I had pegboard on the walls and everything had a place. I never knew how many different kinds of pegboard hooks there were, but I had them all. Everything was neat and clean and in order. So how in the world could things have gotten from that to the way they are now? I have no idea. But it drives me crazy. Any time I need to get some work done, it takes me at least twice as long to do it, because I have to spend all that time looking for stuff. It drives me crazy and I know I have to fix it. I know how well it will work when I do. So why don’t I fix it? Because in order to fix it, I have to get started. And when something is as much of a wreck as my garage is, getting started is a chore. Getting started is a chore, because as I stand in the midst of that mess, I don’t know where to start. Many times that’s the way we are in our Christian walk. It’s real easy to see all the messed up stuff around us. We can see all the work that needs to be done. All the work that needs to be done isn’t hard to see. If we open our eyes, we can see the sin and degradation all around us. We can see all the people that need to be reached with the Gospel. We can see all the children who have no hope without Jesus. It’s like we’re standing in the middle of my garage. We’re just looking at all the stuff that needs to be done and we get overwhelmed. We get overwhelmed to the point that we don’t even know where to begin. And many times, because we don’t know where to begin, we don’t. We do like I have done with my garage. We turn the light off, close the door and leave it to a better time. Except there never is a better time. It would have been very easy for Ezra to feel that way. He had just brought the second remnant on the 1000 mile journey from Babylon to Jerusalem. That had to be a hard journey. But verse 31 said the hand of God was upon them and He provided for them and safely delivered them. And when they got to Jerusalem, verse 32 tells us that they stayed there three days before doing anything. Now, what did they see during those three days? They saw the temple. It was really just a shadow of what it had been before. But it was there and it was standing. But it was the only thing that was standing. The wall around Jerusalem was down. All of its buildings lay in ruins. Other than the temple, it basically looked like a bombed out war zone. And the remnant who was already there? Ezra was able to look around and see that they were fine with it. They had their building. They had done their work. They were done—so they had quit. And now, they were so used to the ruins, they didn’t even seem to notice them. It was just the way things were. So Ezra saw a city in ruins and a people in complacency. And it was his job to fix it. Can’t you just picture him walking around all that rubble for three days, thinking—“Where in the world to we start?” Well, that’s where we should be tonight. We’ve walked around the rubble long enough. We’ve been shaking our head’s wondering where to start long enough. We just have to get started. So we’re going to look to our passage tonight for how to do it. We’re going to see three ways we need to prepare to get started. First, we need to prepare in the temple.
After Ezra wandered around Jerusalem for three days, it was time to get to work preparing for the tremendous task at hand. First, he had to prepare in the temple. Notice that verses 33-34 speak of all the gold and silver they had brought with them from Babylon. Were these temple furnishings that had been in Babylon that the first group hadn’t been able to bring with them? We don’t know. But we do know they were tremendously valuable. And this group had made a thorough accounting of them before they left Babylon. And now that they were at the temple, they made another thorough accounting. And, despite the long hard journey, everything was accounted for. Everything was accounted for and now the temple was thoroughly stocked. Whether it was stocked with temple furnishings or just simply gold and silver—it doesn’t matter. The point is, Ezra prepared in the temple by completely stocking it with resources. Ezra prepared in the temple.