When Your Head Goes Down, The Lord Will Lift You Up.

Ezra 4:1-5:17

God’s work does not always move forward smoothly. We face determined opposition. Where there is opportunity, there will be opposition (1 Corinthians 16:9). The servants of Satan rise up to oppose the servants of the Lord. This is what happens here. The Lord’s enemies had some success: ‘the work on the House of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill’. This was, however, only a temporary setback. God gave new strength to His servants. He sent His ‘prophets, Haggai and Zechariah’. They brought His Word to the people. Strengthened by their ministry of God’s Word, ‘Zerubbabel… arose and began to rebuild the House of God in Jerusalem’ (4:24-5:2). God’s work was back on track. His people were moving forward – again. When your head goes down, let the Lord come to you. He will lift you up!

Ezra 6:1-7:28
God’s work makes good progress when God’s people receive strength from God’s Word. Haggai and Zechariah were faithful in preaching God’s Word to the people. Their preaching ministry was very important. It was just what the builders needed. It inspired them to keep working. God’s House was rebuilt and God’s people rejoiced (6:14-16). The rebuilding of God’s House was followed by the ministry of God’s servant, Ezra. ‘The hand of the Lord was upon Ezra’(7:6,28). His ministry was blessed by the Lord. In Ezra’s ministry of the Word, there are three vital elements – studying, doing and teaching (7:10). Ezra did not only study and teach God’s Word. He did God’s Word. Obedience lies at the heart of true ministry. This is the kind of ministry that God blesses – an obedient ministry.

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Worship – This must always lie at the heart of the life of God’s people …

Following the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, after their captivity in Babylon and prior to the beginning of the rebuilding of the Temple, there was the resumption of worship at the Temple site (Ezra 3:1-6). Worship – This must always lie at the heart of the life of God’s people. Once the foundation had been laid at the Temple, there was joyful thanksgiving – “They prayed and gave thanks to the Lord … He is good; His mercy toward Israel endures forever … Praise the Lord” (Ezra 3:11).In Ezra 4, we read of opposition to God’s work. This opposition led to a temporary hold in God’s work (Ezra 4:24). Inspired by the ministry of Haggai and Zechariah, Zerubbabel resumed the rebuilding of God’s Temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 5:1-2). The work was completed (Ezra 6:15) and dedicated to the Lord (Ezra 6:16). At the heart of the dedication of the Temple, there was worship – joyful worship (Ezra 6:19-22).

Ezra was a man of God. His life was grounded in the Word of God. He brought the Word of God to others, teaching them to build their lives on the word of God. In Ezra 8:22, we have an Old Testament statement of the spiritual principle, taught by Paul in Romans 8:28 – “Our God works things out for the good of everyone who dedicates his life to serving him.”

In His Word, God calls us to make a total commitment of our lives to Him. Where we have failed him, we must make confession of our sin and pray that He will give us the strength to live a life that is pleasing to Him and brings glory to Him.

God’s work makes good progress when God’s people receive strength from God’s Word.

Ezra 6:1-7:28
God’s work makes good progress when God’s people receive strength from God’s Word. Haggai and Zechariah were faithful in preaching God’s Word to the people. Their preaching ministry was very important. It was just what the builders needed. It inspired them to keep working. God’s House was rebuilt and God’s people rejoiced (6:14-16). The rebuilding of God’s House was followed by the ministry of God’s servant, Ezra. ‘The hand of the Lord was upon Ezra’(7:6,28). His ministry was blessed by the Lord. In Ezra’s ministry of the Word, there are three vital elements – studying, doing and teaching (7:10). Ezra did not only study and teach God’s Word. He did God’s Word. Obedience lies at the heart of true ministry. This is the kind of ministry that God blesses – an obedient ministry.

Something For Everyone To Do

Ezra 1:1-2:35
To ‘all’ of us, God gives His call. We are to ‘rebuild the House of the Lord’. To ‘all’ of us, He gives His strength: ‘Then… all those whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the House of the Lord’(1:3,5). If the work of God is to be done, every one must play their part. No one must opt out. No one must say, ‘There’s nothing for me to do’. There’s always something to do. There’s something for every one. God has so much work for us to do. We must not fail Him. He is calling you to serve Him. He will give you the strength that you need. Open your heart to Him. Surrender your life to Him. ‘Every person in every nation, in each succeeding generation, has the right to hear the news that Christ can save… Father, I am willing to dedicate to Thee, life and talent, time and money. Here am I, send me’.

God Wants To Bless Us. How Much Do We Want To Be Blessed By Him?

Ezra 8:1-36

The return of God’s people to Jerusalem was not simply a geographical return – moving from one place to another. It was a spiritual return. They were returning to the Lord. They were seeking His blessing (21). Without God’s blessing, we are nothing. We may have happy memories of better days, recalling ‘the good old days’. We may look back to times of blessing, remembering how the hand of the Lord was upon us. If this is all we have, we have nothing. We are no longer in the place of blessing. We need to return to the Lord. The times of blessing can come again. God gives us His promise: ‘The hand of our God is for good upon all that seek Him’(22). God wants to bless us. How much do we want to be blessed by Him? If the times of blessing are to return to us, we must ‘return to the Lord’(Isaiah 55:6-13).

Ezra 9:1-10:44
The return of God’s blessing begins with a real confession of sin – ‘our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens’(9:6). If God chooses to bless us, it is not because we deserve to be blessed by Him. It is because He loves us and wants more than anything else to pour out His blessing upon us. Despite all of our sin, God’s Word encourages us to believe that the Lord may yet ‘grant us a little reviving’. Pray that God will ‘grant us some reviving to set up the House of our God’(9:8-9). This was Ezra’s prayer. It was the prayer of ‘a very great assembly of men, women and children’(10:1). If prayer for revival is real, it will be much more than pulpit prayer. There will be much prayer, arising from the hearts of many people: ‘If My people pray… I will heal their land’(2 Chronicles 7:14).

Real gold – not counterfeit ‘gold’ …

We read of “gold” in both Ezra and Revelation (Ezra 1:4,6,9-11; Revelation 8:3; Revelation 9:7). In Ezra 1:6, “gold” is set alongside “valuable gifts” and “all the freewill offerings.” “Gold” is a valuable thing. The “gold” of our lives is truly valuable when it is given freely, as a “freewill offering.” In Revelation 8:3, “gold” is associated with “the prayers of all the saints.” The “gold” of our lives is truly valuable when it is given prayerfully to the Lord. In Revelation 9:7, the reference to “gold” is of a different kind. It refers to “the locusts.” It does not refer directly to “gold.” It uses the intriguing phrase – “something like crowns of gold.” This phrase speaks to us of the counterfeit, something which is like the real thing but is not the real thing. Like “the locusts”, we must be “prepared for battle” (Revelation 9:7). We must be watchful. We must guard against the counterfeit. We must keep ourselves for God so that we may be presented to Him as that which is truly “gold.” “Prepared for battle”, we must wage war as those who trust in the Lord, “the One who gives victory” (Psalm 144:2). This is the way of blessing: “Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 144:15).

From my One Year Bible