The Heart of God: Exile and Return (3)
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24.27
Read and meditate on Ezra 1, 3, 5, 6, and Haggai 1 and 2.
When Rehoboam began to reign after Solomon, he sought to fortify himself against his enemies by armies, fortified cities, and bringing many sons into the world. He did not seek the Lord (2 Chron. 12.14). As the people began to return from exile to the land of promise, God intended to make certain they had their priorities right this time around.
1. How do you see God at work in the history of nations and the hearts of people in Ezra 1 and 2? Can there be true revival apart from God working this way? Explain.
2. After a delayed start, the work on the temple resumed. Why did the people begin the rebuilding of their nation by starting with the temple? Wouldn’t they have been smarter to start with the walls of the city, and with training an army? Explain.
3. Again (Ezra 6), we see that God is sovereign over the nations as He moves to renew covenant with His people. Comment on the importance of what we read in Ezra 6.13-22.
4. God’s people always need prophets to keep them from straying from His vision and lapsing into self-serving ways. How can you see that from Haggai 1?
5. Haggai 2 expresses disillusionment and disappointment. Explain. Yet, through the prophet, God used the events and people of that day to point forward to a greater day to come. Explain. What is the role of those entrusted with the Word in keeping God’s people focused on His promises?
The finishing of the temple was a bittersweet moment for the people of Israel. For all their celebrating and rejoicing, it just didn’t seem to have the “punch” many were looking for, and they soon began to drift into self-serving ways again. But as significant as this return to God was, it was merely a sign of greater covenant blessings to come. In what ways?
Your God has commanded your strength;
Strengthen, O God, what You have done for us.
Because of Your temple at Jerusalem,
Kings will bring presents to You.
Rebuke the beasts of the reeds,
The herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples,
Till everyone submits himself with pieces of silver.
Scatter the peoples who delight in war.
Envoys will come out of Egypt;
Ethiopia will quickly stretch out her hands to God.
Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth;
Oh, sing praises to the Lord,
To Him who rides on the heaven of heavens, which were of old!
Indeed, He sends out His voice, a mighty voice.
Ascribe strength to God;
His excellence is over Israel,
And His strength is in the clouds.
O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places.
The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people.
Blessed be God!
T. M. Moore
Two books can help you gain a fuller understanding of the terrain we will be covering in this series. Kingdom Documentsprovides a concise overview of the primary teaching of the Old and New Testaments, and shows, through early Church creeds, how our forebears understood the primary teachings of God’s Word. (click here to order). I Will Be Your Goddevelops more fully the idea of God’s covenant and leads us to consider the practical implications of our covenant relationship with God (click here).
Visit The Ailbe Seminary, where our course, Introduction to Biblical Theology, offers a parallel study of our theme in this series, using brief video presentations and the workbook God’s Covenant: An Introduction. All courses at The Ailbe Seminary are available without charge.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.