Monday, September 8, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH EZRA

Here are some takeaways from my recent read through Ezra in The Message Bible.

The story line--After the fall of the nation and the destruction of Jerusalem and years of living as a dispersed people, the king of Persia allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem to re-establish the nation. They were led by Ezra. This was one of the several times in history that the people of God almost became extinct. Ezra brought revival by two primary means: worship and the Word of God.

  1. Another evidence that God oversees even pagan rulers. He prodded Cyrus, king of Persia, to let the Jews return to Judah to rebuild the Temple.
  2. Among the thousands returning to Jerusalem, the list includes a few names we will hear more about as we read through the Bible--Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, and Mordecai.
  3. First things first--the returned Jews set up an altar for worship before they laid the foundation for the new Temple. Some people believe they can't worship unless they are inside a sanctuary building.
  4. Criticism and antagonism can easily destroy morale and hinder the work of God.
  5. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah preached during this part of Jewish history--during the days of the rebuilding of the Temple.
  6. It is amazing how meticulously governments kept written records of business decisions.
  7. Ezra was an awesome, influential leader of God's people. Three things summarize his success--the studied the Word of God; he lived the Word of God; and he taught the Word of God.
  8. Fasting played a major role among the people of God, especially before major events and key decisions.
  9. Ezra's brokenness and shame about his people's sin should serve as an example for any leader.
  10. It is music to a discouraged leader's ears when he hears his people say to him, "Get up. Take charge. We're behind you. Don't back down."

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