Monday, 13 July 2020 Ezra 3:1-13
“…..the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem.” -Ezra 3:1
The book of Ezra is the amazing record of how God fulfilled His promises, when people were willing to obey. It is a reminder of the faithfulness of God—a constant pointer to all of us that if we are willing, then God’s strength is available to enable us complete His purpose in our lives!
At the time of King Cyrus, when the Jews were in exile in Babylon, he permitted them to return to Jerusalem provided they were still a part of his kingdom and kingship. The book opens with the statement that the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus the king of Persia. This was the fulfillment of a Prophecy through Jeremiah (Jer.29:10-14 & 2Chr.36:22-23). Several years had passed, the people in exile had started to enjoy living in Babylon, their lives were flourishing – yet God did not forget His promise! In order to fulfill His promise, in His sovereign power He stirred up the mind of a king of the most powerful kingdom of those times!
In the chapter 2 of the Book of Ezra the details of the people who returned are given – they have come for a purpose- to re-build the Temple. Chapter 3 gives the details of laying the foundation of the Temple. Our key verse states that they gathered together as one man – 42,360 people as one man!!! They had one purpose – to re-build God’s Temple. They were united to fulfil the plan of God. When they were in exile in Babylon, they lost their identity – for their identity was closely knit with their land and God. With being exiled and their place of worship in ruins, in a sense their identity was destroyed. So re-building the Temple was re-building their own identity; their own destiny. A strong nation is required for the future of their generation! Above all they were taking part in a divine plan of God.
The number of people who volunteered to return was only a small fraction of the whole people in Babylon- the others chose to remain in Babylon – though in exile- but enjoying the comfort of the land!! But those who risked the tedious journey back to Jerusalem and were willing to set out for an unknown future were becoming history makers!!
They had the essential ingredients of good stewardship –piety and unity. Without unity nothing can be achieved for God! They believed God to fulfill His promise and it just happened. When we are in the will of God and focused on the purpose of God - it will be accomplished. Once they decided to build the temple, they took the preliminary steps of vital importance—setting up the altar, offered sacrifices, celebrated the feast of booths and continued to offer burnt offerings to the Lord (Vs.3-6). We then read of the foundation were being laid (V.10). There was great rejoicing at the laying of the foundation of the temple of God; yet some of the older men who had seen the magnificence of first temple, wept. Here there was a weeping for something that was lost yet a joy of something that was being restored.
As we meditate on this portion, may we understand that the temple of the Old Testament, is now us, the living temple of God where God abides by His Spirit (1Cor.6:19). Let us offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God- holy and acceptable to God and be constantly renewed in our minds (Romans 12:1&2). Besides, let us know our position of being members of God’s household, “…having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Eph.2:20-22).
Prayer: Dear GOD, as I offer my self to You, let me be built with my fellow brethren to be a holy temple of the Lord where You constant presence dwells. Amen