God is looking to raise Ezras in our generation who will weep for this generation. Through the story of Ezra and his zeal for the Lord, we discover key parallels to the church today and powerful keys to bring our generation to return to the Lord. Discover these and more in the video and article below. Stay connected to watch the next video.
In the year 458BC, a man undertakes a perilous journey. He is on a divine mission. He is going to bring the understanding of God’s Word to His people. He is released by the King of Persia, who now rules his land, to return to Jerusalem for that purpose. He gathers the people around him to pray for God’s assistance. He sets out on his mission, travels for four months, and arrives safely in Jerusalem.
However, upon his arrival, he finds that things are not quite as he expected, in fact, things are very bad. Ezra arrives with provision, funds, all that is required for God’s work, but even though the provision is available, there is a problem. The people are the problem, they have fallen away from God and even their leaders have been polluted and corrupted.
Ezra is brokenhearted and mourns before the Lord. He takes serious action to call the people to return to the Lord. It is a thankless task, but he is the man for the job. This is the setting of the story, yet the story begins earlier, much earlier, it begins at the beginning.
In the beginning…
In order for us to understand the impact of Ezra’s actions, we need to start from the beginning. Our story begins with the fall of mankind who turns away from God and yet we see the workings of God, who throughout history tries to bring man back to Himself as His plan for redemption unfolds. God pursues Abraham and brings him out of His land so that through him He can bring a generation of people through whom the Messiah will come. The Messiah then would reconcile humanity to Himself. God had a plan.
What is God’s plan?
We must understand that God has a plan that concerns the whole of humanity, but He also has an individual plan for each person and we all have a place in God’s plan. His plan is eternal, preexists, and antedates us. When you understand that God has a plan that is beyond what is happening in your life today, you begin to understand the necessity for believers to align their lives with His plan. It makes sense for a believer to make the right choices because all our choices participate in the fulfillment of the plan of God.
God’s people had to remain separate, unpolluted by the sins, idolatry, and evil of the other nations so that through them the righteous Seed could come. Time and time again they forgot that they were a people chosen by God and they got carried away by the things that were happening around them. They forgot that they were a people belonging to God.
God worked with men, He set up a system of worship for them, from Abraham to the tabernacle, the temple etc. Over and over again, the cycle of disobedience, punishment, and repentance, followed by restoration. Despite dire warnings from God’s prophets as to the punishment for disobedience, the people paid little heed. it all culminated in deportation and captivity. the Northern Kingdom fell to Assyria first, then the Southern kingdom was led captive to Babylon and the temple destroyed. But as God Himself had predicted, King Cyrus issued a decree 70 years later, releasing those of God’s people who willed, to return to rebuild the temple. The return occurs with an initial group led by Zerubabbel and then came Ezra.
How similar are we to the people of God?
There are many parallels that can be drawn with the people of God.
- As believers we tend to forget who we are and allow ourselves to be absorbed into the world around us.
- We tend not to want to be different; we tend to want to intermarry with iniquity, sin and wickedness like the people of God did.
- In the same way that people of God returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, today there is a need for us to return to rebuild the house of God.
The need to rebuild the Church
Many of us believe the problems the Church faces are largely due to the lack of help and finances, yet the Church is wealthier today than it has ever been! Today Christians have a greater proportion of global wealth than do non-Christians. We have the means to rebuild the Church but do we have the people?
This is a cry to return to the Lord, to rebuild the church, just like the ancient people had to rebuild the temple and relearn the ways of the Lord. It is essential that we understand that we must relearn the ways of God because our ways are very different from the ways of God. With all that is happening in our world today, many believers have no greater desire than to fit in, be indistinguishable from the world. We want to look like everyone else so that we will not be pointed at, attacked, accused, vilified, and marginalised. We are trying so hard to be acceptable and accepted that we end up in idolatry.
My cry is that as we sound the alarm and call believers to rebuild and relearn the ways of God, to do away with the ways of the world, that most of the Church will say yes. If anyone can say all is well in the house of the Lord then they are not looking. If we do not hear the call of God for the Church right now to return to His Word, to return to His way of being and doing, to rebuild the house of God, then we are not listening to His voice.
This is not the time to only tell people they are blessed; there is a time for everything. We must call ourselves to a sense of responsibility and ask ourselves ‘where is the church going in our generation? Many leaders are acting irresponsibly by not calling people to repentance. If we want to be loved more than we want people to love God, we have betrayed the Lord. We are like the leaders in Ezra’s time, priests who forsook the Lord to condone intermarriages and indulge in it themselves.
If we continue with our casual, self-centered, egotistical non-committed form of Christianity and our hunger for goods instead of hunger for God, where will the church be in fifteen years’ time? Click To Tweet
There are enemies around us who will bring idolatrous ways into our midst and some have done so already. Many believers are constantly seeking self and are oblivious to the fact that there is an eternal plan of God that we are supposed to fulfill. To do so, we must return wholeheartedly to the Lord and realign our ways with His.
Jesus entrusted to us the discipling of nations, not the copying or imitation of nations, nor the subservience to nations. Jesus told us to teach the world to obey. Does it not appear that rather than teaching the world to obey, we are being taught by the world to obey it and disobey Christ. This is what happened with God’s people. Rather than bring the other peoples to honour Yahweh, they were drawn away by them into dishonouring Yahweh.Does it not appear that rather than teaching the world to obey Christ, we are being taught by the world to obey it and disobey Christ?. (A call to return to the Lord (1)) Click To Tweet
Those who stayed behind were comfortable in exile. Many of us are too comfortable in the world. Getting up to rebuild will be an undesirable burden. The preaching of the gospel and building of churches is an inconvenience. Yet, God always finds willing ones. Some, though few, comparatively, decided to eschew the convenience of life in exile and return to build the nation.
Those who return to build
Ezra 7: 1-10
After the first wave under Zerubabbel, it is the turn of Ezra. Ezra was a scribe and a man of great wisdom and knowledge. His mission was to bring the Word of God to the people. Ezra found that even with all the provision and support from the king, there was a problem in Jerusalem. The people, led by the priest and leaders had married foreign women, had children with them and were thus susceptible to following idols The very people that should have preserved the worship of Yahweh have become polluted and corrupted and Ezra feared the worst.
A people of the Word
Ezra was very attached to the Word of God and this it would seem, procured him great favour. He had determined to study the Word, obey it, and teach it. This is what will make a difference in our generation. If we are going to return and rebuild we have to be attached to the Word of God.
The Word is under constant attack from the world. There is a militant movement that is intimidating many believers and pushing them to become diffident, almost apologetic about scripture. Many, unlike Ezra, are not skilled in the Word. They adopt the point of view of those who do not believe in the inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures; they share their view of the way to salvation and of morality.
We must return to the Word.
- It will create a mindset that will forestall the onslaught and erase the impact of evil thinking that is taking over many believers today.
- It will build in us strength, conviction, tenacity, and capacity that will enable us to stand against the tide of immorality that is sweeping the Church.
- It will enable us to stand against the tendency to compromise and the pressure to back down on the exclusiveness of Christ, the truth of the Scriptures and of Jesus as the only way to God.
Ezra was deeply affected by the fact that the people had indulged in the same sins that led to their deportation. He tore his clothes, pulled out his own hair and beard, devastated, sat in mourning till evening. Then he fell on his knees and confessed the people’s sin to God as if he had committed it.
What about you?
Now my question to you is, how do you feel about sin in the Church? What kind of believer are you?
- Are you afflicted by sin?
- Or do you practice it without any sense of doing wrong?
- Do you watch others sin and let them carry on with their lives?
- Or does your heart bleed when you see iniquity in the house?
The Lord is raising up Ezras in our generation who will stand up for righteousness because there is no way a backslidden and sin-ridden Church can reach a generation for Christ. They watch us; they see our compromises and they say ‘who are you to speak’?
The Lord is making a call for us to return to rebuild the house of the Lord, to return to the Word of God and what it says; for the Ezras in our generation who can stand for righteousness, who can weep for what has gone wrong in our generation. Will you be one of them?
Do not miss out on the second part of this teaching. Shalom!