Returning from ExileSeptember 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Ezra | 3 Comments
Tags: 1 Thessalonians 5, 2 Timothy 2, commentary on Ezra, Ezra 1, Ezra 2, Ezra 3, Philippians 1, spiritual exile, Sunday School lessons on Ezra
In 538 B.C. approximately 50,000 exiled Jews left captivity in Babylon to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the city. After the decree of King Cyrus which authorized them to do this, some of the Jews wanted to return and some didn’t.
Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.
Sheshbazzar was probably Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah. It was not unusual for Jews born in a foreign land to be given a foreign name in addition to their Jewish names.
Ezra Chapter 2 contains genealogies. These were important to the Jewish people for two reasons: One, they needed to be able to prove they had an inheritance of the rights and privileges of being Jewish. Two, they didn’t want their mission corrupted by outsiders.
Those who returned took singers with them. Believers today sometimes sing songs which sound joyous to the world, but which also carry an undertone of grief to those sensitive to the Spirit. (Psalm 137:1-4) Coming back early from exile should be a time for truly joyous singing, which honors the Lord.
What did they do first when they were ready to begin rebuilding? Lay the foundation? No. Gather supplies and materials? No. Set up an altar and sacrifice? Yes! If you are a Christian, but you have been in “spiritual exile” – disobediently out of God’s will – when you return, you should get back to basics: do the fundamentals, present yourself as a living sacrifice to God.
Note the emphasis on unity: they gathered together (Ezra 3:1); they stood together (Ezra 3:9); they sang together (Ezra 3:11). When you come back from a spiritual exile, get in unity, “togetherness,” with other believers who are following the foundation of the pattern: repentance; confession; prayer; reading and heeding the Word; obeying the Word and the Spirit; growing in faith.
In Ezra 3:11 the unity was interrupted when the joyful shouting was interrupted by loud weeping. These “ancient” men were upset because the “new” did not meet their expectations, and, in their mind, did not measure up to the “old.” As believers today, if we go into exile, and then come back, we may find things changed. The music may be different. The “style” of worship may be different. The age of the leaders may be different. The Word of God is never different, but older believers must not insist that the younger believers conform to every old tradition.
If you find yourself in exile from the will of God, one thing is clear: God’s commandment – you really don’t have to search very far in the Scriptures to find it – is that you return from exile. Return to the center of God’s will for your life. God will enable you to do it.
Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
I Thessalonians 5:24
God is faithful. his faithfulness is not dependent on our faithfulness.
If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
II Timothy 2:13
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: