Getting Your Priorities In Order

Reordering Priorities

Book of Haggai

Last week we saw that the 70 -year prophesy of Jeremiah had been true and many of those of Israel in captivity were released by King Cyrus to return home and to rebuild the Temple.

It got off to a great start, but it soon ran out of steam and came to a complete stop, as these people began to think of themselves instead of the House of God.

So God sent the Prophet Haggai with a new message.

This is a great lesson for the Church today.

Sometimes God may seem to silent and it seems prayers go unanswered and we wonder what has happened.

We must understand that 100% of the time it will be because we have moved away from God and not that God has forgotten about us.

God is always listening for us, but God will not answer if we have unconfessed sin. We must confess “all” our sin and repent if we want God to answer our prayers! (Psalms 66:18)

Our lesson today is aimed toward those churches that were one time on fire for God, but have now ceased and are cold or just luke warm.

Our lesson is also aimed at the Christian who was once on fire for God but now have ceased even going to church.

Why does it seem God is silent in America today?

God has been asked to leave!
Many of the Church have rejected the truth of God and allowed the world to dictate what God means when they cannot know the truth!
Many have rejected the Word of God and listen to false science!
Many have forced God to take a back seat to our own personal pursuits!
Many have allowed the government to influence the Church!
Many have just worshiped self and left off to worship God!

So what was the message of Haggai?

*****Hag 1:1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying,
Hag 1:2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built.

According to modern calendars the first message of Haggai came August the 29th of 520 BC.

The first message was aimed at Zerubbabel who was the governor assigned by King Cyrus to be in charge of Judah (a puppet king) and the reconstruction of the Temple of Solomon, which Nebuchadnezzar destroyed.

Zerubbabel was a descendant of the royal line of King David. In the Book of Ezra he is sometimes called by Sheshbazzar, which was his Persian name.

In Haggai we will see Zerubbabel called the “Signet” which means a seal or a signet, which means he had absolute authority in Judah but still a puppet of Persia.

To be honest it is our duty to serve the Lord, just as it was these people of Judah on this day.

These who had return from captivity had decided it was not time to finish the work on the Temple, but it was time for them to do as they pleased.

They had allowed their neighbors to dictate their behavior!

Ezr 4:23 Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power.
Ezr 4:24 Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Shimshai was a trouble maker and these Jews did not question his authority but just went to their homes and left off the building of the Temple.

What does God say?

Pro 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
Pro 29:26 Many seek the ruler’s favour; but every man’s judgment cometh from the LORD.
Pro 29:27 An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.

So God sent His Word by Haggai.

*****Hag 1:3 Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,
Hag 1:4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?

God’s people had forgotten that they were God’s people!

We do the same thing today!

They were not to fear those around them. God had said they would go home after 70 years in captivity, and God did not say this just so they would be ruled by Samaria or foolish men harassing God’s people.

One thing we must understand is, God will not do things that we can do ourselves!

God helps us with things that we cannot do ourselves!!!!!!!!!!

God simply said, if it is not time to complete the work on the Temple, then was it time to dwell in their ceiled, houses, houses already secure from the elements?

These people were celebrating in their homes while the House of God still lay in ruins just partially rebuilt.

Nothing much more than the foundation had been laid.

Nothing looks worse than a building that began as a great plan, but now lay in ruins because it could not be completed.

If things were as bad as these people made it out to be, then how could they sit in their homes in safety with no worries?

If we think back to the time of King David, these people were nothing like David at all.

2Sa 7:1 And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies;
2Sa 7:2 That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.

The thoughts of David were why the first Temple was built, and these people who had been released from bondage by King Cyrus, who had bragged on the God of creation, were not as obligated to serve the Lord as they should have been.

This is a picture of the Laodicean Church Age of today!

The Lord has reached down and pulled His people out of the miry clay of sin, surely, we have a duty to commit to the work of the Lord.

Today we are the Temple of God and when we are first saved, we are babes in Christ, surely, we feel the duty to grow in Christ!

We should not need anyone to urge us to get closer to God, but thank God for our Pastor, who continues to teach us the truth.

What does the Bible teach us to do?

2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

We must be building onto our Temple at all times!

It was not time for these Jews of Judah to be sitting around doing nothing when the Temple of God needed so much work to be done.

It is never time for us to stop building onto our temple, which we are.

1Co_6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

We have a duty to be busy working on our own Temple at all times!

The first message of God through Haggai, was aimed directly at Zerubbabel and Joshua the High Priest.

We must remember when Haggai spoke, he was saying what God told Him to say and to whom God told him to say it to.

Neither of these men could deny that the prophecies of Jeremiah and of Isaiah had been true just as the words of Haggai would be true and not just true “but be the truth”.

*****Hag 1:5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

This something we all should do every day. We need take a look at our Christian life as compared to Jesus Christ and consider our ways!

These people were guilty of selfishness and covetousness.

What does prophecy do?

We could say that prophecy is God in communication with the Church.

We know that God was speaking to these Jews, but we also know that God has the same message for the Church today, and these words of the Old Testament has lessons that we are to learn.

2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

We need to take a close look into our mirror every day to see if we are who we say we are!

These Jews were neglecting the only thing that could save them, when times did get hard!

God did not expect these people to live in tents while the construction of the Temple was going on, but God did expect them to finish the work they had started at the Temple.

Everything they did since returning to their homeland would determine how God would react to them!

Lev 26:2 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.
Lev 26:3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
Lev 26:4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
Lev 26:5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.

God had not changed, and He never will!!!!!!!!!!

*****Hag 1:6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.

Even though they were now free, this was no way to live. Never enough food and not enough clothes to stay warm.

To live in sin soon becomes a life of misery!

When we get our priorities out of order, things just do not go well for us!

It is a fact that when we forget where our blessings come from, we will not get blessings that we could have had!

God is always standing ready to dump a truck load of blessings out upon us!!!!!!

By not having a place of worship these people were robbing God.

They were robbing God of His worship.
They were robbing God of His truth.
They were robbing God of His tithes.

Mal 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

Gathering to worship the Lord is much, much more than these things.

We lose opportunities to learn the Scriptures.
We lose opportunities to carry our burdens to the Lord.
We lose opportunities to fellowship with each other and pray with one another and for one another.
And most important we lose opportunities to fellowship with the Lord.

Remember the power of the Church lies in the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit abides in each of us.

These Jews were more interested in gaining riches for themselves, but those riches were as if they had their money in a bag and that bag had a hole in it, those riches were being lost.

Job 20:28 The increase of his house shall depart, and his goods shall flow away in the day of his wrath.
Job 20:29 This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God

Though drugs have become more popular with the lost, still the over powering enemy of the working class is alcoholic beverages.

Pro 23:21 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.

Pro 23:29 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?
Pro 23:30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
Pro 23:31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.
Pro 23:32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
Pro 23:33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.
Pro 23:34 Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.
Pro 23:35 They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

No matter who we are, we need to consider the things we do and how those things affect our lives.

*****Hag 1:7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

These Jews had received the command of God to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. They had started off with the right attitude, but now it had been 16 years since they had last worked on the Temple.

The materials were on the job site!

They knew the will of God!

They were lacking in commitment!

We must understand to receive the blessings of God, we must be a blessing to God!

God really only asks us to do one thing and that is to obey Him!

If God has saved us it is our duty to be obedient to Him!

Psa 119:59 I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
Psa 119:60 I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.

Before we can ever be glorified, we must glorify the Lord in what we have now, and it is not to hard nor is it asking too much of us!

*****Hag 1:8 Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD.
We must understand that what pleases God is when we are at work to grow His Kingdom, and also to work and support our families.

These are not two separate things these are one thing that we do for the glory of God!!!!!!

We cannot do this thing if we are not obedient to God.

The Jews were free and living in hardship simply because they left off to do what the Lord God had asked them to do.

It was the Temple that would hold this people together for several centuries to come.

God loves to see His people busy!

We know that the Lord never changes, so it is obvious when the house of God lies in waste, as many do today, then God will not be very pleased.

It does not matter so much what the world is doing, as it matters what the people of God are doing!

Remember Haggai is addressing these things to Zerubbabel the Governor and Joshua the High Priest.

If the government and the Church did not solve this issue, then their freedom did not mean anything!

In America today, the government, through taxpayers, does nothing but feed those who are too lazy to work, while the Church sits on its hands and does nothing to curb sin, not only in our nation, but even allow it inside the church.

A lazy church is a useless church!!!!!

Now, Muslims are elected in to the government along with every liberal minded kook that comes out of the closet.

Freedom is not on the top of the list of the things we need in America today!!!!!

The people who truly needed help were the same ones who did not get the help they needed because they had become lazy and useless to the Lord God.

The Church needs to get back to the business of being obedient to what “Thus Sayeth the Lord” and work for the glory of God, and many of the problems we face as a nation would go away.

The forest around Jerusalem had not been touched in 70 years and much of the material that was needed was already on the Temple Mount. It was time to get busy about the work of the Lord!

We must keep our priorities in order!

Tit 3:8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

When these people had left captivity, they had expected everything to be so wonderful.

They needed to be awakened to the fact they lived in a cruel and evil world just as we do today, and we need the Lords help in everything we do, but if we refuse to glorify God in the things we do, that help will never come when we need it the most!!!!!

*****Hag 1:9 Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.
Hag 1:10 Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit.

When we forget that the Lord is in control of our environment, and everything else, and start placing the blame on things such as global warming, or any other dreamed up thing we are on our way to more misery.

Look around at what is going on in our world and you can see that God has withdrawn His hand of mercy!!!!!

All the things that assured a good life was lacking, because these people had neglected the God who had caused them to be set free.

When we allow the house of God to lie in waste, we can be sure our own homes will go to waste.

When we expect too much from others, and do not give back to our God in our time and our tithes, our nation will lie in waste.

We are foolish to ask why our government is like it is, when we reject the God who places the right people in the right positions.

We have the freedom to vote and more than a 100 million stay home and forget how important this freed is!!!!!!

When God does place someone in position who has faith in God, and we do not do everything we can to help them, we are just digging a hole so deep that we will never come out of it.

This could be said of our President today.

When we look for much and it comes to little, we can only blame ourselves.
When we bring that little home and even it blows away, we can only blame ourselves.
When we neglect God and the House of God, we cannot expect to receive the blessings of God!

Isa 17:10 Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips:
Isa 17:11 In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow.

Why is America suffering? It has nothing to do with global warming silly people, it because the Lord thy God has control of the heavens and the earth.

You see, God proves by facts, that it is He that sits on the throne in Heaven and He will deny these things sometimes, and in some places, to show us we are not being obedient to His Words. The only ones who know His words are those who are the true Christian.

God can blow away wages just as well as He can blow away our necessities, when we are suffering and do not know why.

Sometimes we just need to sit down and meditate to see why we are suffering so much in this world!

The biggest reason we all suffer so much, is because we have not obeyed the Word of God!

God does not play favorites, He has the same love for each of us and the same discipline for disobedience!

As Haggai confronts Zerubbabel and Joshua the High Priest, we can see that God was laying the blame on the government and the Church.

They had not led the people in the right direction, and it was the people who suffered the most, while these two and many others lived in their fine homes and lavish lifestyle.

These things never change, God will hold every government accountable for the suffering of the people and the Church for allowing the government to go without Church leadership.

Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

When we get our priorities out of wack, there is only one place to go and that is to the Lord God Jehovah.

We know Him as Jesus Christ!

During this time when the rebuilding of the Temple had stopped for 16 years or more, God had to do some things for this people to take notice.

*****Hag 1:11 And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.

God sees the labor of our hands and if our hands are not Holy hands, then the things we do with those hands, will not be Holy.

There is no way the work that comes by our hands will prosper, without using them part of the time for the Lord and being committed to Him 100% of the time!!!!!

If the labor on the Temple had not ceased, God would never have brought a drought upon this people. It is just that simple!

A great lesson for the Church is, as long as the House of God lies in waste, God will not bless the labor of Church hands in America.

Gen 31:42 Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty. God hath seen mine affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked thee yesternight.

The Lord will only bless the work of our hands when our priorities are in the right order!

When our own interest comes before the work of God, God will see, and God will not allow those interest to be fruitful.

What has God warned the Church?

1Pe_4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

The Church needs to wake up to these warnings and get her priorities right!!!!!

When we do not heed the warnings of God, we are placing ourselves and our families in jeopardy!

What many see as climate change may be just God telling us we need to get back to the truth of God!

Or, could it be close to the time when the Antichrist will stick his evil head into the world and claim to be the Savior.

2Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

If there is not a great falling away today, then explain why so many churches have closed their doors and many of the rest have become lazy in the work of God!

There is always the spirit of the Anti-Christ in our world.

1Jn 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

These that had returned to Judah with a priority to build the Temple were facing an economic catastrophe and it was of their own doing!

The question we should ask is, when will we ever learn from our mistakes?

You there is a reason that our history is not being taught in our schools, our youth will never know of all the mistakes that have made that our nation has learned and have made us the great nation that we had become but today are going backwards!

These Jew quickly understood.

*****Hag 1:12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD.

We must understand that the Word of God in the mouth of God’s servants, will have no effect until God’s “authority” is realized and “acknowledged”!

What is wrong in America today? We have forgotten that Jehovah God is the King who sits on the throne in Heaven!!!!!

We must look at the message of the Lord, and see that God does not ever change!

God loves His people. God teaches us these things so we can remove all doubt of His sovereignty not just over the people but also all of nature!

1) God will always act to protect the integrity of His Holy Name!!!!!

Mal 1:6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?

2) God will always act to correct His people of their sinful ways:

Deu 11:10 For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:
Deu 11:11 But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven:
Deu 11:12 A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.
Deu 11:13 And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,
Deu 11:14 That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.
Deu 11:15 And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.

3) God is the God of second chance: (praise the Lord)

Php 1:6 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:

The truth is God will discipline, God will correct, and God will train, the ones He loves, and He shows us how He does things in the Word of God.

We already have the instruction manual. It’s called the Bible!!!!

We are to learn from these mistakes made by these, God’s chosen people, and through this day, Israel remains the apple of God’s eye!

The Church is still God’s redeemed and the Bride of Christ!

We must understand that God dealt with nations during this era, but today God deals with individuals.

When our priorities are not right, then we can expect the same or very similar things from our Creator, the true Ruler of all we see, and all we cannot see!

Pro 3:11 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
Pro 3:12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
Pro 3:13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
Pro 3:14 For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.

We can expect our Father in Heaven to do whatever it takes to keep us as His children, who He loves us more than we can understand!

When the Lord speaks to us by the Holy Spirit, it is in our best interest to listen to what He says and be obedient to what He teaches us!

Amen

Let’s Pray!

The Second Temple

The Work Begins

Book of Ezra

Six months have passed since we began our study of the Book of John and now, we will spend some time in the Old Testament.

In 539 BC the Persians and the Medes under King Cyrus had defeated the Babylonians in a fierce battle for world domination just as the Prophet Daniel had predicted.

It was Isaiah that had predicted that Cyrus would do these things about 100 years before Cyrus had been born.

Isa 44:28 That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.

Isa 45:1 Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;
Isa 45:2 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
Isa 45:3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.

It was Jeremiah who had said that Jews would only be in captivity for 70 years.

Dan_9:2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolation of Jerusalem.

Jer 25:11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
Jer 25:12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.

The Book of Ezra was written by Ezra and Ezra was a Jewish Priest.

There were three groups who returned from Babylon, but not one group included any from the Northern Kingdom. The Northern Kingdom had been carried off by the Assyrians and never returned to the Promise Land during this period.

Cyrus had captured all the lands of the Babylonians which included the land of the Assyrians and any of those Jews who had remained could have the same freedom to return to Israel.

Let’s begin:

*****Ezr 1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
Ezr 1:2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

Cyrus was the son of Cambyses, king of Persia and Mandane the daughter of Astyages, king of Media.

King Cyrus claimed himself to be the liberator of all peoples.

He allowed any group that were captured by the Babylonians to return to their homeland not just the Jews, after all he now ruled all those homelands.

He had first allowed Zerubbabel to lead the first group of the Jews back to Jerusalem. So many things had happened that were against the Word of God that not much work was done in Jerusalem.

It was Ezra who led the second group charged with the rebuilding of the Temple which was financed by King Cyrus and any free will offerings.

Cyrus also returned to the Jews all the valuables stolen from the Temple of Solomon.

Later Nehemiah would lead a third group of Jews back to Jerusalem charged with rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

By all these things we should have no doubt that it is God that puts in place the leaders of this world!

A lot of things are said about the Jews good and bad, but one thing stands out, they are dedicated builders of their nation when they get the opportunity!

They were cured of their idolatry, that had come between them and Jehovah.

If we ask what is wrong with our world today, it should be obvious that all our problems come because of sin.

We see that Cyrus was a king who believed that all his success came because of the Lord God of Heaven and Earth.

Cyrus was no Christian, but he knew where his power came from, he was not an atheist.

To the Jews, Cyrus was Kuresh, the King of Persia.

We should be able to see that God can touch the heart of any ruler at any time as He says in the Book of Isaiah.

Isa 45:13 I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts.

God knows what is going to happen in this world before it happens!

God knows that the Jews want to see Israel survive even if many of them will never make it back home!

What did Cyrus ask the Jewish people?

*****Ezr 1:3 Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.
Ezr 1:4 And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.

Cyrus did not demand that all the Jews leave, and many did not, but he did allow anyone who chose to go home and be a part of the rebuilding of the Temple and there homes the freedom to do so.

We should understand that these things were all recorded in the history of Persia and are all true.

The Persia we are familiar with are now the nations of Iraq and Iran.

Any Jew that was alive from the time of captivity would remember the preaching Jeremiah and Isaiah and the other prophets that had come true and they knew it was their sin that had brought on all these things.

All these are lessons for the Church. We can see again that God will always do what He says, and it is God who places rulers into power.

Our Holy God still rules this world!

The date of this proclamation of Cyrus was 538 BC the very first year of his reign over Babylon.

Cyrus had a personal reason for these things he did.

He wanted all people to pray to their god for a long life “for him” even after he had stated that it was it was the Lord God of Heaven who had given him the victory.

Just as so many do today, he had thoughts of all people worshiping the same God which is not true. Jehovah God is a jealous God who will not share His worship with others.

What did Jehovah teach the Jews?

Exo 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

Exo 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

Deu 6:15 (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

Many of the Jews were ready, for they knew what God had said to the prophets.

*****Ezr 1:5 Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.
Ezr 1:6 And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.

We should clearly understand that the chastening of the Lord is never about punishment it is always about reform. The Jews had been given the task of preserving the Word of God and they could not do this if they ignored the Word of God!

It is much like that today, the chastisement we go through is not about punishment it is about keeping us moving in the right direction toward eternal life in God’s Heaven.

God was working on His people all the time they were in captivity! They had been cured of their idolatry! They now rejected all pagan gods!

They longed for the Living God!

They had a new devotion to the Lord’s sanctuary, the Temple.

You see we must have a devotion to the House of God!

Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Nebuchadnezzar had captured Jerusalem in 604 BC.
The proclamation of Cyrus was in 538 BC.

Leaving time for the people to gather their belongings and make the long trip to Jerusalem, the work on the Temple began May 534 BC the 70 years had been completed just as Jeremiah had said by the Holy Spirit.

What caused Cyrus to do these things, besides wanting a prayer of thanks from these Jews?

His own advisers had told him of the prophesies of the prophet Isaiah.

If we cannot see the hand of God in all these things, then we do not understand the Lord as much as we think we do!

Just as God had done in Egypt, He had encouraged those who lived among the Jews to make a free will offering to them.

Cyrus would provide the funds for rebuilding the Temple.

Cyrus would provide a military unit for their protection for a time.

These people needed a free will offering in order to sustain themselves until they could get their homes rebuilt and grow their own crops.

We have missions and ministries that cannot survive today without free will offerings.

2Co 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
2Co 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
2Co 9:9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

After a rough start the children of Israel began the work of rebuilding the Temple.

*****Ezr 3:9 Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites.
Ezr 3:10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.

Verse 9 is not part of our lesson, but it is hard to miss that name Jeshua. In Hebrew it means “he will save”. In reality it is another form of the name Joshua which in the Greek is Jesus.

Jesus is the foundation of the Church and if you cannot accept the work of Jesus for your salvation, you cannot be saved!

For those who use typology, we can see the importance of this man named Jeshua!

In the Book of Nehemiah this same Jeshua was one of the men who gave the meaning of the Laws of Moses.

Neh 8:7 Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.
Neh 8:8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

We know that our Lord Jesus Christ has been involved in the safe keeping of the Word of God from the beginning.

Now this man was not Jesus in any way, but he could be considered a type of Jesus.

Even before the foundation of the Temple was laid the altar was repaired and offerings were made to Jehovah God.

A continuous burnt offering was made, and all the feast were kept during the rebuilding of the Temple.

These people had learned by a sad experience that they were dependent upon God!

The materials for the Temple were gathered from many nations such as Tyre and Sidon and the forest of Lebanon.

Have you ever noticed how God utilizes nations to move the Gospel?

The Romans built new roads to move their army quickly, but God used those same roads to proclaim the “Gospel”.

Today we see all sort of modern ways to communication but at the same time these things can be used to spread the “Gospel”.

We must never be afraid of these things. We must send the “Gospel” out in every way we can use because we know that the Word of God will not come back void and the Word of God cannot be stopped.

Christianity must be a uniting force and not be forced upon anyone like it was during the time of the crusades. God’s Word will make a way because it’s He who sends it!

The priests in their apparel blew the trumpets, the Psalmist with the cymbals, there was something going on at God’s House and all were invited to lay a stone on the foundation!

You want to build a Church, this is the best way!

There was singing and shouting, and praise being offered to Jehovah God for His true Word.

*****Ezr 3:11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever 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.

Psalm 136 which is probably used here, tells of the great power of God but the emphasis is on God’s goodness and God’s mercy.

Mercy can be understood as compassion for those who miserable! These Jews were in captivity for 70 years. Some fared well, but I suppose many of them were no more than slaves.

God had realized these things from His beginning, and He decided, He would be more like a Father than as a Deity who cared not for His creation!

God not only has “mercy” he also expects us to show mercy even to our enemies.

Mat 18:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
Mat 18:34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
Mat 18:35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

When we understand the mercy of God, we can begin our climb out of the miry clay of sin and then we will also praise the Lord for His goodness.

A good man knows the difference in right and wrong and he will choose right every time!

Without God’s goodness and God’s mercy, we would never get to see God’s “GRACE”.

Today the morality level and the goodness level in America, is almost nonexisting!

Being back home was a great feeling for the Jews.

Many of them had never even seen Jerusalem as they were born in captivity, but during those years their parents had continued to share the Word of God with them.

Many of those who had seen the Temple of Solomon knew that this rebuilt Temple would not possess the grandeur of Solomon’s Temple.

The things we will miss if we do look closely are:

1) This became a working church
2) They all worked together
3) They were obedient to the Word of God
4) They worked without ceasing
5) They celebrated singing worship songs
6) They were thankful

We know that today the Bible says we are a Temple of God. How are we working compared to these Jews?

1Pe 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
1Pe 2:3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
1Pe 2:4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
1Pe 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

What did Paul preach?

1Co 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
1Co 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
1Co 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

We must realize that a Temple that has fallen will never be as grand as it was before it fell and we must remember that today each Christian ia a Temple of God!

The second Temple would not ever reach the splendor of Solomon’s Temple. If we allow our temple to fall back into sin and return to the Lord with full forgiveness, we will never be the witness we could have been!

*****Ezr 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:
Ezr 3:13 So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.

The first and the second Temple were built in the exact same place, they had nearly the same foundation, they were both built with the same design.

The Temple that we raise, that our forefathers saw, is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and the Prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself the Chief Corner Stone.

We have the same “gospel”, we have the same Savior, and the same Holy Spirit who lives within us for conversion, edification, support, and comfort!

For the Jews the first Temple surpassed the second Temple because it was built with better materials.

But we today as sinners who were not fit to be a Temple of God, are built into a glorious Temple of God.

As a Temple of God we must be Holy!

1Co_3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Just as the second Temple was dedicated to God. so we are to be dedicated to God.

This is where the Church of today fails the most!

In fact there are so many that have rejected the truth of God, the Church is tarnished.

We must remember Jesus did not say the Word of God was true, Jesus said the Word of God is the “Truth”!

There is no higher authority anywhere on this planet and there never will be, until the Lord returns!

Joh_17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Ezra is considered to the father of Jewish religion and he gave his life to keep the Jews in line with the Word of God.

This the same period when the Pharisees got started and this began with good intentions to keep the people in line with the Word of God.

It later days, the they begin to add their own interpretation, their own words, making their own words, the words of man, to be greater than the Word of God.

Again this is the same thing happening in our world today. The Church has allowed the world inside the Church and the words of man and politicians to be greater than the Word of God.

Some people today cannot discern the truth from the man-made laws because they refuse to study the Word of God themselves and they depend on some man to lead them in the right way. It is a shame!

When the world gets inside the Church then the work of God will cease.

*****Ezr 4:24 Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

We must understand that the tactics of Satan and those who reject the only God, Jehovah are wicked!

If they cannot bend the goodness of the Church to their own wishes, they will change their tactics and call the good bad and the bad good.

They will hire politicians to frustrate the work of the Church.

They will seek out men with no scruples who will deliberately use their influence and their pocketbooks, in an evil cause for their own gain!

When we get away from the promises of God and listen to the false promises of the world, the Church will cease to exist.

If not for the Holy Spirit this would take place!

As our world removes more and more of the history of our lives, they gain more control.
As the world takes control of the minds of our young people, they gain more control.
As the world tramples on the Word of God, they gain more control.

We must wake up to these tactics, take our stand on the Word of God, and refuse to move until the Lord comes.

We are not to be timid with the Word of God, we are to be bold!

Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

When the Church will not take a stand, the world will roll right over us, as we see today!

Amen

Let’s Pray!