Monday, August 26, 2019

Ezra Bible Study - Encouraged: A Gift to the Weary Soul

As I study the book of Ezra, I've found it more enlightening and exciting than I anticipated. I love when I'm surprised by what I see in God's word because it changes you. I wish the same for you, so dig in.



In Ezra 5, the work of rebuilding the temple resumes through the encouragement of two prophets - Haggai and Zechariah. They were encouraging as they helped. New naysayers - Tattenai, Sherthai-bozenai, and their associates question their rebuilding efforts. Zerubabel, the constant leader responds:
We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the Temple that was built here many years ago by a great king of Israel. But because our ancestors angered the God of heaven, he abandoned them to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who destroyed this Temple and exiled the people to Babylonia. However, King Cyrus of Babylon, during the first year of his reign, issued a decree that the Temple of God should be rebuilt. King Cyrus returned the gold and silver cups that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple of God in Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of Babylon. These cups were taken from that temple and presented to a man named Sheshbazzar, whom King Cyrus appointed as governor of Judah. The king instructed him to return the cups to their place in Jerusalem and to rebuild the Temple of God there on its original site. So this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the Temple of God in Jerusalem. The people have been working on it ever since, though it is not yet completed (Ezra 5:11-16).
In short, we are freed exiles, we have Cyrus' proclamation and support; therefore, we can build. This was not good enough for Tattenai, so he wrote a letter to King Darius. Tattenai had some power as he was a governor but would soon discover that God's power superseded his. Tattenai was a man who was full of himself. He thought he could throw his weight around, but he is in for a Godly surprise as we'll see in the next chapter.

Haggai's (Haggai 1:1) ministry was to rebuke the exiles for their delay in rebuilding and to encourage them to rebuild. He first tells them to consider their ways - we're not blameless victims, change (repent), then build. Zechariah's name means the Lord remembers. His message (Zechariah 1:1) is a call to repentance and encouragement to rebuild. Haggai and Zechariah were contemporaries and are next to each other in the Old Testament; Haggai then Zechariah.

One of the main storylines in this book is the rebuilding of Solomon's temple, which was initially destroyed by the Babylonians (2 Kings 25:8-9). Eventually, the exiles started to rebuild the temple after many delays. The last delay was approximately fifteen to eighteen years, so I can imagine the fulfilling feeling of physical activity toward a goal. They were finally making progress as they laid the foundation brick by brick.  Once the exiles started to rebuild, they received prophetic encouragement from Haggai and Zechariah. Once more another person tried to thwart God's plan, but the prophetic support enabled them to keep going; to focus on the doing instead of the naysaying. These prophets came alongside the exiles - they encouraged and worked with them. What a beautiful picture of encouragement.

While the exiles waited for Darius' reply from Tattenai, the prophets prophesied, encouraged, and assisted.
But because their God was watching over them, the leaders of the Jews were not prevented from building until a report was sent to Darius and he returned his decision (Ezra 5:5 NLT).

 God's work needs willing folks to accomplish it regardless of the setbacks.

Reflections - Let us not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9). When discouraged, examine yourself. Consider your ways, repent, and continue to be obedient. Stay focused on what God has called you to do. God will bring others along to cheer you up while saying what needs to be said. The powerful can't control you unless God allows it. Godly encouragement invigorates, fortifies, cheers up and emboldens.  Discouragement can make us passive, but encouragement activates. It allowed the exiles to build in the face of powerful opposition.

Prayer - Dear Lord, keep us focused on what you have called us to do. Help us to continually examine ourselves in light of our relationship with You and your Word. May we always consider our ways, then repent if a change is needed. Give us the strength of Zerubabel to confidently confront the naysayers regardless of their position. Thank you, Lord, that even though we falter, you are right beside us encouraging and guiding us. You sent Haggai and Zechariah to the exiles; send similar encouragers when we are at our lowest. Thank you, Lord, that the encouragement we receive from you strengthens our faith and equips us. We are so grateful for the many ways you work in our lives. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Resources:
Gotquestions.org
Logos Bible Software
Scofield Reference Bible
Bible Gateway
--Nylse

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13 comments:

  1. Your reflections hit my heart. Thank you for taking the time to write and share this!

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  2. This is such great encouragement: "When discouraged, examine yourself. Consider your ways, repent, and continue to be obedient. Stay focused on what God has called you to do." amen!

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  3. This is a very insightful article on the book of Ezra. I can tell that God gave you revelation from your reflections and prayer. He is indeed an encourager!!!

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  4. I was recently studying out Ezra and was happy to find this today, Nylse. I'm thankful for your encouragement to not give up!
    Blessings to you.

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  5. Staying focused. I've been saying that a lot to my 16-y/o grandson. Personally, I want to stay obedient to God's purpose in my life.

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  6. Thank you, Lord, that the encouragement we receive from you strengthens our faith and equips us. We are so grateful for the many ways you work in our lives.

    Amen and Amen!

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  7. The enemy wants nothing more than for us to get weary in doing good so that we don’t complete the work God has set out for us to do.

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  8. thank you for a timely reminder not to give up or grow weary in doing the work of rebuilding

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  9. Lord, there's some folks 'round me now
    who think I should be more depressed,
    and they just can't see how
    I'm dyin', but beating cancer's best.
    They don't like my bright black humour
    or my jokes, or constant smile;
    they'd rather see me curse a tumour
    and resenting, walk this last Green Mile.
    Maybe they see some kind of standard
    that they're sure they couldn't meet,
    so, it's kind of underhanded;
    they want me with them in defeat.
    What they say don't bother me;
    they choose chains, I choose free.

    #1 at FMF this week.

    https://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2019/09/your-dying-spouse-668-faith-is-not.html

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  10. "Let us not grow weary in the good work we are doing". We need to hold fast to these words. Our calling is not an easy one. The enemy loves to make us discouraged and tired in what God has called us to do. We have to press on. He will give us the strength to carry out our calling.

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  11. Thank you for sharing this exposition on the Ezra 5. Your reflections were practical and helpful.

    Amen!

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  12. Thanks for the post and great tips: even I also think that hard work is the most important aspect of getting success.
    MobileMaya

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