City Motivators for City Takers: TWO
Here is the second of a series that I hope will be an encouragement to those who have a 'city focus'.
City Motivators for City Takers: TWO
Ezra: Mission Accomplished
The O.T. book, Ezra, is an amazing story of how God used a heathen king to be a catalyst for revival and transformation. And how in the midst of severe setbacks and discouragement God, through His prophets, enabled the people of God to overcome and complete the building of God’s house in Jerusalem.
1. Ezra 1:1-4. God is able. When the temple is in ruins and faith falters God stirs the heart of a heathen king Cyrus, to fulfil his word to Israel. Jer. 29:10. ‘After 70 years in Babylon, I will visit you and cause you to return to this place’. Ezra 1:2. ‘He (God) has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem in Judah’. God can use the most unlikely means to fulfil His purposes for our cities.
2. Ezra. 1:5-6: Then, ‘..everyone whose heart God had moved, prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem’. The house of the Lord is built by God’s calling, leading and enabling, not by human strategies and ingenuity.’ Let’s give thanks for 'everyone whose hearts God has moved to go up and build the house’ in our cities and towns. Note: Paul's word to the church in the city of Ephesus. 'In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21-22
3. Ezra 1:7-11. King Cyrus returned articles from his temple so that they could be restored to the house of God in Jerusalem. God can do far above all we ask or think when we make His priorities our own. Matthew 6:33.
4. Ezra 3:1. After arriving in Jerusalem the people, first, ‘gathered together as one man’. They were of one accord. Acts 2:1. Psalm 133. And second, despite their fear of the surrounding nations they, ‘arose and built the altar of the God of Israel’. First things first, build an altar. Lev. 6:13 They began the restoration of the house/temple with one accord worship of God. Note the progression. Unity – Worship – Giving – Building – Celebration. Today, in many of our cities and towns good foundations have been laid for His house. Let us recognise and celebrate them also!
5. Ezra 5:1. Trouble! Discouragement! ‘The people of the land wrote a letter of accusation to King Artaxerxes. They used devious means to bring discouragement. ‘They are building the rebellious and evil city’. Despite having God’s word – God’s provision - there was opposition, accusation, setback. A decree is given for the work to stop. The rebuilding of the House of God was discontinued.
6. Ezra 6. Haggai and Zechariah – prophesied that the work should continue – so now, 20 years later, the leaders rose up and began to build - despite the decree to stop – opposition then comes from governor Tattenai, ‘Who has commanded you to build this temple and finish this wall? ’– ‘BUT ‘the eye of God was upon them so that their enemies were unable to make them stop’. Then Tattenai appeals to king Darius.BUT Darius finds Cyrus’ decree – and says let them alone and let the cost be paid at my expense!
7. 6:14 ‘So …’ they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo AND THEY BUILT AND FINISHED THE HOUSE.’ A final word from Paul. ‘Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace IN BELIEVING, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ Romans 15:13 (Emphasis mine)
In addition to the above 'A House for His Glory, The Church in the City', may give further insight: Here is the link.