Monday, July 29, 2019

Ezra Bible Study - Unified: As One Man

I am struck by the unity expressed in Ezra 3:1, in particular how it reads in the KJV.

And when the seventh month came, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. Ezra 3:1 KJV

They lived in separate villages, but now it was time to be unified in their purpose to rebuild the temple. There was a period before they started building, seven months which served as preparation. Once prepared, they were united.

We crave unity in our homes, in our marriages, at work, in our friendships. As a parent, if your children continuously bicker, you wonder if they will ever get along. When you witness a couple who are perpetually antagonistic toward each other, it's awkward to watch as it signals disunity.

The imagery of being unified as one man is powerful. A man's body is made up of different parts all working together, moving forward in a coordinated effort. How wonderful and pleasant it is when we live together in unity (Psalms 133:1). The psalmist lets us know that unity is possible and a worthwhile endeavor; precious as the anointing oil poured on the high priest and trickling down to his beard. Infused with the oil of the Holy Spirit, we can be unifying forces in our relationships. We can acknowledge each other and acquiesce when necessary. Traits of vociferousness, obstreperousness, and callousness yield to the Holy Spirit because unity reflects Christ’s character. Our actions can be precious as we smooth over our relationships, which then trickles down to others. I would venture to say that those seven months allowed the Israelites to plan and prepare so that they could work together.

The Jews were singular in purpose as they submitted to God and each other. Their goal was to set up the altar, keep the feasts, and offer daily burnt offerings as required by God's Law (Ezra 3:1-7). They were unified in their efforts, work, and praise. There's a trickle-down effect to unity and the unifying force of God's Holy Spirit. Like the Israelites, when we work together, we can see the results of our united effort and exhibit unified praise. Unity eludes us when we don’t humbly submit to the Holy Spirit.

The Jews were so unified that once the foundation of the temple is laid, their praise turns to indistinguishable tears of joy and sadness (Ezra 3:12,13). Imagine the sound - praise mingled with weeping. The sad tears were from the elders who remembered the first temple, and the tears of joy were of those who focused on what they had just accomplished. In unity, both sets of tears went up as a sweet-smelling savor to God. He sees, and knows our tears and is not offended by them (Psalms 56:8). At the end of this life (Revelation 21:4), there will be no more tears as we are unified with the One who saved us.

Reflection - For anything to get done, we have to be willing to come together and work with each other. We have to take the time to prepare; then and only then can we do the work. Prayerful preparation allows for proper execution. We are reminded that "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it (Psalms 127:1)". Our efforts in working together aren't wasted though we may all feel differently about the task at hand. We don't have to be unified in our feelings but unified in our actions. God's proclamation through Cyrus united the people. This is what we see so clearly in this chapter.

Prayer - Dear Lord, may we be unified as one man and united by One Man - You, as we work together here on earth. Lord, within your body, unity eludes us and we are hurting. These days our differences are magnified and used as barriers to prevent us from working together. Lord tear down these barriers. As we work, help us to work out our feelings whether we are recipients of hurt or unwittingly caused hurt. We may have tears of sorrow or joy, but as our hearts are turned toward you, we know that you see and understand our tears. Thank you that YOU know our tears and there is coming a day when there will be no more tears. Knit us together to do what you have called us to do. Amen


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  1. "Prayerful preparation allows for proper execution." Love this! Too often we (and I'm definitely including me) skip the first part, then wonder why our execution didn't go well.

  2. He does have a way to make things work together, and hopefully people will get it.

  3. We are so much stronger together, aren't we? And in the process, we learn to work with people very different and with different gifts from ours. Thanks for sharing. I just finished reading Ezra myself and am working my way through Nehemiah.

  4. Wondering how much the disunity is tied to pride or laziness or fear or all three! Our gov't is a mess. Not sure unity will be found in this decade. So we pray! thanks, Nylse!

  5. "Unity eludes us when we don’t humbly submit to the Holy Spirit". I love this, Nylse. We are all members of one body. Unity can only thrive when we remember this. Great post!

  6. Amazing what we can accomplish when we make unity a priority in what we attempt for the Lord. Thanks for sharing on Scripture and a Snapshot!

  7. Nylse, I love the trickle down picture. I never thought of unity as a trickle down effect, but I now see how that can be. Wonderful words. Thank you so much for sharing!


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