Glen spoke from Ezra 1 last week. Ezra gets the vision of rebuilding the temple of God. The work before him and the children of Israel was huge and potentially overwhelming. God moves each of us from something into something new. But there is need to cooperate with His grace. He said the starting point is always appreciating he love of God for me, and shared the idea of the Beloved Charter. That is, starting from the point of knowing that I’m loved by God and enabling what I do to be an overflow of His unconditional love for me. Without such a starting point, the default becomes trying to do things out of our strength in order to please God – which can not produce fruit for the Kingdom of God. Today we look at Ezra 2:68 – 3:6.
I was at AVALON 2019 (Australian International Airshow and Aerospace & Defence Exposition) at Avalon airport in Geelong earlier this week. There were cool technologies on display with exhibitors from all over the world – Singapore, Nuew Zealand, Malaysia, Japan, China, UK, Germany, France, US, South Africa, etc. I had the opportunity to put on this helmet by one of the world leading communications technology companies. This is a pilot’s helmet and is full of white dots. Can you see some from this photo? Information receptors – each of them has a special function. The dots pick up information from an antenna nearby, which itself is receiving information from radars on the ground, undersea and in air – 360 degrees. The exhibitor explained to me their ability to see beyond what the physical eye can see. That is called Belong Line of Sight (BLOS). They use what is called unmanned vehicles (UVS) for air, land and see. The exhibitor asked me to look left – what do you see? Look right – what do you see? Look down – what do you see? Look up – what do you see? I said, the detail you pull together from long distances was impressive. But that wasn’t all the story. He asked me what else I could see? They are able to tag what you see as ‘green’ for friendly, ‘yellow’ for keep an eye – suspicious of this one, and ‘red’ for enemy. The children of Israel have just arrived back from Babylon after 70 years of captivity. If you asked them, “what do you see?” Maybe some could have said ‘Jerusalem with no walls’, ‘no temple of God’, ‘no alter to worship God’, or all ‘discouraged people everywhere’. That was all true. The question of ‘But what else?’ needed to follow. The reason is, this return to Jerusalem was not accidental. It was birthed out of Jeremiah’s prophecy as in Ezra 1:1. They therefore needed to see what was beyond their physical sight. They needed to believe the God of Heaven who was restoring His nation to it’s former relationship with him. They needed to believe that prophecy. Let me ask you the same question, ‘what do you see when you look at me?’ A man – yes. An African man – yes. A Black African or ‘chocolate brown’ as otherwise have said in the past – yes, as long as you don’t eat me! But what else do you see? Closer to you, ‘what do you see when you look at yourself?’ Male/female – yes, a single or dad or mum – yes. But what else? You and I need to see beyond what meets the physical eye. I need to believe that truth that Jesus has said about me. You need to believe that truth regarding me as well. You and I need to believe the truth of what Jesus has said about you, regardless of what we can see happening to you now. I was challenged by the practice of developing a Beloved Charter based on God’s promises which Glen shared last week. I decided to develop mine based on Biblical truths and prophetic words which have been spoken to me to date: “Casten, I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations. Just be yourself, let my love fill you and allow the overflow of that to bless everyone around you, and everyone around you will know that you are my disciple because of the love you have for my children.” I want to believe this everyday. Please help me to do so.
Zechariah’s prophecy was for every Israelite. Everyone of the children of Israel had the opportunity to believe God and return to Jerusalem after the 70 years of the Babylonian captivity. After they returned, each one got restored to their original lands, and everyone had the opportunity to contribute to rebuilding of broken Lord’s temple. We see in the passage we read today – Joshua and Zerubbabel lead the way to restoring worshipping of the Lord by the children of God. They build an alter for the Israelites to worship God a it’s original site – to remember God’s presence with His people. Everyone contributed a part according to their ability. There was a place for everyone to play a part. The Lord wanted to rebuild the temple and restore it to its former glory. The alter and temple represent places for worshipping God. For us today the temple represents people’s hearts. God wants yours and my heart to be restored to their original relationships with Him. Father knew us before we were born and set us apart to be prophets to the nations (Jer. 1:5). However, as we do life we drift from God’s plan and promises either through sin or through what we allow ourselves to believe based on circumstances around us. Jesus wants to be honoured in each and everyone of us’ hearts. Matthew 28:19 – 20 “So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.” is both a command and a promise for everyone of us. A command to go and preach the gospel – so that people’s hearts and lives maybe be restored to the Lord God their Maker, and a promise that the Almighty God and Master Builder will be with us all the way. Jesu wants to be honoured in the hearts and lives of your family members, your neighbours, and everyone you meet. He wants people to be delivered from diseases, marriages to be healed, broken hearts to be mended and nations restored to Him.
Ezra 3:1-2 reads “1The Israelites had made their homes in their towns. In the seventh month all of them gathered together in Jerusalem. 2Then Joshua began to build the altar for burnt offerings to honor the God of Israel ... So did Zerubbabel and his men. They built the altar according to what is written in the Law of Moses.” It’s been 70 years of captivity away from their home towns. And now the children of Israel are back, and start rebuilding homes and towns. Besides building their homes and towns, they need to prepare their fields for planting crops - they are super busy and have enough food resources for the following year! However, they all decided to click PAUSE to their busyness and go to Jerusalem – which represents the place they could meet the Lord their God. Ezra 3:3 says “The people who built the altar were afraid of the nations around them. But they built it anyway. They set it up where it had stood before. They sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord. They offered the morning and evening sacrifices on it.” That doesn’t sound like all was nice and rose for the children of God. They needed to make some hard choices to trust and obey God. That sounds like you and I – doesn’t it. Busy with this and that and without knowing a day is gone. Sometimes we are afraid and lack the courage to share the message of Jesus’ love with the next door neighbour, workmate or person at the coffee shop. Over the past year Glen has shared many great messages with us. However, I believe He has mainly been preaching on a single theme – challenging everyone of us to establish a spiritual rhythm for a personal relationship with Jesus. That is, intentionally setting apart time to connect with Jesus everyday – despite the busy schedules. The children of Israel didn’t have to wait for the temple to be built before they could build an alter to worship God. They were smart enough to know that it’s alter that sanctifies the temple and not vice versa. Temple or no temple, they decided to dedicate their hearts in worship to God. Likewise, the Lord knows your busyness, and the challenges and fears you face. However, in the middle of all that, He delights in us when we each choose to set our hearts on worshipping Him. Make time to develop our relationship with Him and worship Him. Your heart that seeks to worship and honour Him is more valuable to Him, than the works you may try to do as a substitute for a relationship with him. We each just need to approach Him despite the lack of confidence we may experience some times.
What Do You See?
What do you see?
Ezra 2:68 – 3:6
• See beyond
• Believe what
Jesus has said
1. What do you see?
2. A place for everyone
• God’s prophecy
• Temple rebuilding
= hearts restored
3. Father wants your heart worship
• Alter sanctifies
the temple, not
• Your heart
So what ….??
What do you see in
o yourself? Develop a Beloved Charter.
o neighbour? Beloved Charter for them
Give your heart to Jesus
o Develop a rhythm for connecting
68 All the people arrived at the place in Jerusalem
where the LORD’s temple would be rebuilt. Then
some of the leaders of the families brought
offerings they chose to give. They would be used
for rebuilding the house of God. It would stand in
the same place it had been before. 69 The people
gave money for the work. It was based on how
much they had. They gave 1,100 pounds of gold.
They also gave three tons of silver. And they gave
100 sets of clothes for the priests. All of that was
added to the temple treasure.70 The priests and
Levites made their homes in their own towns. So
did the musicians, the men who guarded the gates,
and the temple servants. The rest of the Israelites
also made their homes in their own towns.
Ezra 2:68 – 70 (NIRV)
1 The Israelites had made their homes in their
towns. In the seventh month all of them gathered
together in Jerusalem. 2 Then Joshua began to
build the altar for burnt offerings to honor the God
of Israel. Joshua was the son of Jozadak. The other
priests helped Joshua. So did Zerubbabel and his
men. They built the altar according to what is
written in the Law of Moses. Moses was a man of
God. Zerubbabel was the son of Shealtiel. 3 The
people who built the altar were afraid of the nations
around them. But they built it anyway. They set it up
where it had stood before. They sacrificed burnt
offerings on it to the LORD. They offered the
morning and evening sacrifices on it.
Ezra 3:1 – 6 (NIRV)
4 Then they celebrated the Feast of Booths.
They did it according to what is written in the
Law. They sacrificed the number of burnt
offerings required for each day. 5 After they
celebrated the Feast of Booths, they sacrificed
the regular burnt offerings. They offered the
New Moon sacrifices. They also offered the
sacrifices for all the appointed sacred feasts of
the LORD. And they sacrificed the offerings the
people chose to give him. 6 On the first day of
the seventh month they began to offer burnt
offerings to the LORD. They did it even though
the foundation of the LORD’s temple hadn’t been
Ezra 3:1 – 6 (NIRV)