The Completion and Celebration
Read Ezra 6:13-22
We have finally made it! The Israelites have completed the Temple! Is there hope for God’s people? Yes! The sovereign God has rescued His people from exile. He has brought them home. He has overcome all of their obstacles. Verse 14 tells us why the Temple was finished. It’s because God Himself decreed it. There is hope for God’s people because God is sovereign and God is with them!
We can see the extreme joy that is exuded from this portion of Ezra. The people celebrate and worship God with great joy. They observe Passover with great joy. The people are overwhelmed with happiness for all that God has done.
More than a Building
There is more to this than the construction of any old building. With the Temple destroyed and Israel in ruins, it looked as if God might fail to fulfill His promises. God had given many prophecies and promises to the Israelites that He had yet to fulfill. These promises included promises that God would one day send a Messiah through the line of Judah and David. The restoration of Israel as seen with the restoration of the Temple gave God’s people new reason to trust that He would keep His promises. I previously showed you part of a prophecy from Jeremiah. Here is a fuller version.
“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:10-14)
What We Learn About God
God proved to the Israelites that He is a God who keeps His promises. And because He is sovereign, there is no situation so bleak that should cause us to doubt that He will keep His promises! After all, the Israelites were slaves in a foreign land with no king of their own and their city and Temple lay in ruins. Yet, the sovereign God proved that not even that could stop Him from keeping His promises. Nothing can stop God’s plans.
What has God promised you? The Bible is filled with promises of God to us. The most amazing of these are the promises of salvation offered to us through Jesus Christ. Here are just a few amazing promises of God.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame (Psalm 25:3a)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. (Matthew 18:20)
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Do you doubt God’s Word? Are you ever tempted to doubt God’s promises? Remember, God always keeps His Word. Take joy that the sovereign God can be stopped by nothing and He will faithfully keep His promises to you. Let this be a source of joy to you in tough times.
· Identify one way you are tempted to doubt God. Memorize a Scripture verse to help you remember God’s promise to you. For example, if you doubt that God really forgives you, you might memorize Romans 8:1.
· Identify three ways God has been faithful to you in the past. Give thanks to God for those times.
· Read Ezra 7 and 8 by next Tuesday
o How is Ezra described?
o In what ways does God bless Ezra on his trip to Jerusalem?
o What does the King give Ezra that is unique from all of the previous gifts of the King?
o What actions does Ezra take and what kind of man does he seem to be?
o What do you learn about Ezra from the way he handles the offerings?
o Why does God bless Ezra?
· Drop a line in the comments to discuss what you’ve learned in Ezra this week.