Ezra 3: Rebuilding the Altar
1 When the seventh month came, and the children of Israel were in the towns, the people gathered as one man to Jerusalem.
2 Then arose Jeshua the son of Jozadak, with his fellow priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel with his kinsmen, and they built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God.
3 They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, burnt offerings morning and evening.
4 And they kept the Feast of Booths, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number according to the rule, as each day required,
5 and after that the regular burnt offerings, the offerings at the new moon and at all the appointed feasts of the LORD, and the offerings of everyone who made a freewill offering to the LORD.
6 From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.
7 So they gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the Sidonians and the Tyrians to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the grant that they had from Cyrus king of Persia.
Rebuilding the Temple
8 Now in the second year after their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak made a beginning, together with the rest of their kinsmen, the priests and the Levites and all who had come to Jerusalem from the captivity. They appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to supervise the work of the house of the LORD.
9 And Jeshua with his sons and his brothers, and Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together supervised the workmen in the house of God, along with the sons of Henadad and the Levites, their sons and brothers.
10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD, according to the directions of David king of Israel.
11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel." And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy,
13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people's weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.
Ezra 4: Adversaries Oppose the Rebuilding
1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the LORD, the God of Israel,
2 they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers' houses and said to them, "Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here."
3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers' houses in Israel said to them, "You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us."
4 Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build
5 and bribed counsellors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
The Letter to King Artaxerxes
7 In the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam and Mithredath and Tabeel and the rest of their associates wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia. The letter was written in Aramaic and translated.
8 Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows:
9 Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates, the judges, the governors, the officials, the Persians, the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the Elamites,
10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnappar deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River.
11 (This is a copy of the letter that they sent.) "To Artaxerxes the king: Your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. And now
12 be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations.
13 Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired.
14 Now because we eat the salt of the palace and it is not fitting for us to witness the king's dishonour, therefore we send and inform the king,
15 in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will find in the book of the records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from of old. That was why this city was laid waste.
16 We make known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province Beyond the River."
The King Orders the Work to Cease
17 The king sent an answer: "To Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their associates who live in Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River, greeting. And now
18 the letter that you sent to us has been plainly read before me.
19 And I made a decree, and search has been made, and it has been found that this city from of old has risen against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made in it.
20 And mighty kings have been over Jerusalem, who ruled over the whole province Beyond the River, to whom tribute, custom, and toll were paid.
21 Therefore make a decree that these men be made to cease, and that this city be not rebuilt, until a decree is made by me.
22 And take care not to be slack in this matter. Why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?"
23 Then, when the copy of King Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their associates, they went in haste to the Jews at Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease.
24 Then the work on the house of God that is in Jerusalem stopped, and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Things to think about…
1.The Jews came back and immediately started building the altar for sacrifices on the old temple site. Even then they were fearful of the surrounding nations, Ez 3:3. The year was 536BC and the feast of Booths was celebrated. This was an appropriate festival for them because they had again been in a temporary setting in Babylon similar to their release from Egypt and their temporary dwelling in their Wilderness wanderings. We see that the fear of the surrounding nations however had an inhibitive effect on the building program. What fears do you have that stop you from offering yourself for some Christian service? At the moment the world is consumed by fear with repsect to this virus. But the promise and the Word is still true that perfect love casts our fear and we are not given to0 a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control, 1John 4:18, 2Tim 1:7.
2.A grant had been given by Cyrus the King of Persia to rebuild the temple Ez 3:7. Here in Ez 3:8-13 we see the foundation is being laid and there is great celebration. Some were weeping because it wasn't as big and as grand as the foundation of the first temple that Solomon built. These people would have been very old to remember it. But most were rejoicing. We shouldn't let past spiritual glories keep us in the past and not expect God to do great things in our day. We need to lay our own foundations of course and see what the Lord may do with those. An interesting point to note – here they chose Levites 20 years old and up to start supervising the building etc. We read in Numbers last week that they had to be between 30 – 50 years of age. Perhaps the age was lessened because they simply didn't have the workers on the ground. Sometimes practical realities get in the way of the strict keeping of the law. Grace should be our rule. May the young people take up the mantle of rebuilding the church in our day, especially through this season.
3.And here it is! The opposition begins, in Ez 4:1-4 we see others offering themselves to help with the building program. They were already living in the land of course. They were not bothered with rebuilding up to this point – why now? Christ alone builds His church, we do not need worldly words or means to add numbers to His body. If Christ says "I will build My church", that should be enough for us. Here the Jews listened to the opposition and the building program stopped for 16 years! It was only under the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah that it resumed in 520BC, but much time had been lost. Has fear cost you time in Christ's building program throughout your life? Pray that through this season of fear that churches and Christians are the ones that stand up and are counted and we indeed come out as those who lead the way with respect to clear and obvious displays of the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22, 23.
4.Those who offered themselves up to help with the building program and who were also rejected by the Jews now show their true colours, Ez 4:11-16. They write to Artaxerxes and say the Jews are rebuilding the rebellious city, Ez 4:7-16. The king listens and the work stops until the second year of the reign of Darius – 520BC, vs 24. When opposition to your faith comes into your life what do you do? We are called to endure. Churches are closed at this season as decreed by our earthly masters. It is for the protection of the populace but I believe there is a way of being vigilant as well as continue the work of Christ in making disciples and showing love and compassion in this season.
CBC's Vision :- To be a growing biblical church community, significantly influencing our city and beyond, through intentional outreach, fulfilling our mission.
1.Corona virus and how churches in Australia and around the world will appropriately deal with this pandemic.
2.Live streaming our services from the 29th March.
3.Podcast logo completed. Podcast is entitled "Face and Faith". Coming shortly
4.Sunday's message on Ezra – Andrew Otte.
5.Sick, elderly as they recover. Graheme Monteith at home with leg infection – Cellulitis. Pray for the elderly win our church who are susceptible to lung infections.
6.Work being done at Darrel and Jean's this Sat morning.
7.Finish "Bean Redeemed" coffee shop and podcast area.
8.Church finances to meet our expenses.
9.Our City and Country – Pray for revival over our city and the leadership of our country.
1.Swift response to the virus in Australia
2.Praise the Lord for more new people to CBC.
3.New Website and Podcast logo completed – Praise God for Melody and Suzie making this happen.
4.Recharge blessed again – thankyou leaders. New youth (who have never been to church).
5.Unity, peace and Christ's love over our church.
1.Horne - Hosting, on Sunday morning. No café or morning tea this Sunday.
2.Bean Redeemed café will be closed until further notice.
4.No Recharge youth until further notice.
5.No Axiom evening services until further notice.
6.Saturday Men's activity – 28th March helping at Darrel and Jean's place. House tidy working bee. 8:00am start. Contact Tim or Steve for more details.
7.Combined Church youth event – Postponed until further notice.
March catechism question...
Q. 10. What is the third petition?
A. "Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven."
Bible Reference – Matt.6:10; Luke 11:2.
"Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known" Jer 33:3