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THE TEMPLE IN THE BOOK OF EZRA

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EZRA 3
Lesson 11
THE TEMPLE IN THE BOOK OF EZRA

  • Memory Verse: Joh 4:24
  • Now that we have behind us the background of Solomon’s temple and the New Testament significance of it, we can return to the book of Ezra.
    • We have learned that Solomon’s beautiful temple was destroyed by the Babylonians when all the nation of Israel fell into the Babylonian Captivity for 70 years.
    • We have learned that Persia took over the Babylonian Empire, After the completion of 70 years, King Cyrus made a decree that all the Jews could return to the Promised Land.
    • We have learned in Ezra 1 and 2 that a small group, only about 60,000 people chose to return to rebuild the temple and the city of Jerusalem.
      • There is a lapse of time between Ezra 2 and Ezra 3, maybe months or up to two years of time.
      • In Ezra 3 we discover that the returning Israelites have built some cities and their homes.
  • The rebuke from the prophet Haggai:
    • Read Hag 1:2-15
    • The people are rebuked for their misplaced priorities. God did not begrudge them for building their own houses, but once they were built, they began to let the daily grind of life replace their commitment to the Lord.
  • Read Ezra 3:1-10
    • The first completed object in the new temple was the altar of burnt offering
      • Of what significance is this?
      • We know that the altar of burnt offering represents the cross of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, spiritually speaking. This was where they offered animal sacrifice for sin.
        • In other words, the first thing necessary in life is the priority of the worship of God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
        • God created man to be an eternal praiser in worship of God.
        • Only through Jesus Christ can we come to God, the Father. (Joh 14:6)
      • Therefore, the first thing necessary in life is a personal relationship with God through the completed sacrifice of Jesus Christ who died for our sins.
    • Notice that they began to worship God following the instructions in the Word of God. After 70 years of captivity, they had forgotten how to worship God. (2)
      • The instructions regarding animal sacrifice in the Law of Moses are found in the book of Leviticus.
      • The instructions regarding the priesthood and their duties are found in the book of Leviticus.
      • The instructions for the worship of God by New Testament believers are found in Joh 4.
        • Read Joh 4:23-24
        • What does it mean to worship God in spirit and in truth?
          • In Spirit = Only the person that has the Holy Spirit living inside of him can truly worship God.

The indwelling Holy Spirit knows the will of God, and He knows the heart of man. He can therefore cause man to worship God in the way that is pleasing to God.

Because God is a Spirit, it is not the outward posture of the body or the words that man speaks or sings that is necessarily pleasing to God. It is not the amount of money that man puts into the offering plate that necessarily pleases God.

Worship that pleases God is a right spirit and a contrite heart. (Psa 51:17)

          • In Truth = A lot of worship is not done “in truth” because the god that is worshipped is not the God of the Bible.

Man must worship the God that is revealed to us in the Word of God. God is not of man’s making but of God’s revelation by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The worship of any other god is idolatry and is misplaced.

      • Instructions of how to worship expressed in the Word of God brought unity of worship to the people. The Bible is the authority that sets aside man’s opinions on how to do things. No one said, “Oh, that’s old fashioned. We are modern people. Let’s do it this way!”
    • Notice that they began to keep the religious Jewish calendar found in Leviticus.
      • In other words, they began to order their lives according to the Word of God giving religious and spiritual matters a priority in their daily lives.
      • Remember that the religious calendar of the Jews was a calendar of planting and harvesting as well.
      • In other words, when we, as New Testament believers put our spiritual priorities in order, God will bless us in every area of our lives including our daily provision of food.
    • The next thing the Israelites built after the altar of burnt offering was the foundation of the temple.(10-11)
      • Read 1Cor 3:9-11
        • The believer, as the temple of the Holy Spirit, must build his life on the correct foundation which is Jesus Christ.
        • The correct foundation for the New Testament believer is the truth of the Apostles’ doctrine found in the four gospels and the book of Acts. In other words, have your doctrine correct according to the Word of God.
        • The New Testament believer will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ as to how he built his Christian life.
      • Read 1Cor 3:11-17
  • Read Ezra 3:11-13 A matter of viewpoint
    • After they built the altar of burnt offering and laid the foundation of the temple, they worshipped God.
    • Notice that some people rejoiced over what they accomplished and others wept. Why the difference of viewpoint?
      • The young people rejoiced because their experience was only captivity in Babylon.
        • They were now free from captivity and beginning to build a new life back in the Promised Land.
        • They were pioneers with a hope for the future.
      • The older people wept because their experience was that of worship in the glorious temple of Solomon.
        • They remembered the grandeur, the beauty, and the wealth of Solomon’s temple.
        • They remembered the days of national sovereignty when their own kings ruled the nation of Israel.
        • They experienced how far the nation had fallen away from God so that God permitted the destruction of Solomon’s temple and the captivity of the people.
    • Which is the correct viewpoint?
      • The exuberance of youth with hope for the future is the correct viewpoint.
        • However, the youth should learn from the past what caused the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in order not to repeat the same failures.
        • Idolatry was Israel’s main sin that caused God to permit the destruction of the temple and the Babylonian captivity.
        • That idolatry was brought on by the stubborn, disobedient attitude of the people that would not listen to God.
      • Weeping by the older people over the past discouraged future building. Why?
        • What is past is finished!
        • A focus on the past prevents a focus on what God is doing in the present and what God wants to do in the future.
        • Read Phil 3:12-14
          • When the believer makes flesh decisions and he gets off the path God wants him on, he must repent and begin his faith walk again.
          • Yes, there are losses, obstacles, and/or consequences in your life in the same way we see in the life of Israel.
          • But the correct attitude is to learn from your mistakes and have the positive attitude of youth to move on and build in a better way.
    • What is important in the temple is the glorious presence of God. Solomon’s temple had the light of the glory of God in the temple. There is no mention in the book of Ezra that God’s presence came to dwell in the rebuilt temple. Why?
      • The presence of God inhabits a clean vessel after repentance has occurred.
      • The Israelites never repented for their years of idolatry that led to the Babylonian captivity.
        • They suffered the consequences of idolatry (the 70 year Babylonian captivity).
        • A small group returned to the Promised Land to rebuild the temple and the city of Jerusalem (Ezra and Nehemiah) in obedience to God.
        • There was never a national repentance or humility before God.
        • Read 2Tim 3:5
    • The older people of Ezra’s day wept because the rebuilt temple lacked the intrinsic value of gold, silver, and precious stones of Solomon’s Temple. They did not mourn for lack of God’s presence in the rebuilt temple.
  • Application:
    • The lesson for us in this lesson is that the ultimate value of the Christian life, as a temple of the Holy Spirit, is the glorious internal presence of God working in the life of the believer.
    • The ultimate value is not what appears outwardly in the form of religion.
      • We see many people who say they are “Christians”, but their lives lack the internal power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
      • Outwardly they have built a life (temple) like that of the book of Ezra so that others rejoice because they outwardly do all the right religious things, but there is no presence of the Holy Spirit inside.
    • The believer in Jesus Christ needs to build his life (temple) like that of Solomon:
      • –Made from the best gifts and talents of one’s life (gold, silver, precious stones) and given to God as an offering.
      • –Dedicated to the top priority of worship to the one true God.
      • –Maintained in holiness so that his life of righteousness honors God.
      • –Filled with the presence of God.

HOMEWORK
EZRA 4

  • Application of Ezra 3
    • As you examine your own Christian life, which temple does it more closely resemble, Solomon’s Temple or the temple in Ezra? Why?
    • What of the following things can you do to enrich your Christian life so that it resembles more closely Solomon’s Temple?
      • _____Serve God using your gifts and talents?
      • _____Make God the top priority of your life?
      • _____Repent of sin of which the Holy Spirit is currently convicting you?
      • _____Permit the Holy Spirit to have more control over your life?
      • _____Obey the conviction and guidance of the Holy Spirit?
      • _____ Other
  • Preparation for Ezra 4
    • Read Ezra 4
      • Why did the rebuilding of the temple stop?
      • From where did the opposition come?
      • Why did Zerubbabel not want others to help the Israelites build?
  • Memory Verse: Ezr 4:4
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