Monday, March 26, 2012
Books of Ezra and Nehemiah
The Life Project: Ezra and Nehemiah
One of the greatest privileges of my life is to be a father to four of the most awesome, ornery and brilliant little boys I have ever met. No experience in my life has taught me more about God than the job I have been given as a daddy to Jaden, Cael, Owen and Toren. It is a job that has stretched my resume to include give horseback rides, four on one wrestling matches and becoming an expert on various cartoon characters and super heroes. As I studied the books of Ezra and Nehemiah this week I was reminded of one of those heroes. His name is Bob. Bob the Builder to be precise. Bob is a quirky little fellow who is in the business of fixing broken things that most people would discard and forget about. With each new job Bobs catch phrase is "Can we fix it? YES WE CAN!" What a fitting question and response for these two books. In the lives of these two Biblical heroes we see the heart of a God who builds. A God who rises to the challenges of His people and becomes the foreman of one of the most beautiful restoration projects in history. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah remind us that God was and is in the business of fixing broken things and broken people with the confidence and skill of a master craftsman and artist.
The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah pick up at the end of one of the darkest times in the history of Israel. The mega-power of Babylon had marched into Jerusalem 70 years earlier and swallowed up all that the Jewish nation held dear. Their promised land was now a pile of ashes and rubble. Their Kings were long gone. Their temple was broken-down and abandoned. The great wall of Jerusalem lay in shambles. Those that remained were shipped off to Babylon as slaves with no homes to long for and no hope of a future. It seemed as if all was lost and the most devastating part is the fact that they had it coming. God had promised to protect them if they remained faithful to Him, but he also prophesied impending doom if they turned their backs on their calling as a "Holy Nation". And for over 450 years sin ruled and reigned in Israel. It seemed as if each new generation sank to lower and more despicable lows. The laws and promises of God were lost, Israel's identity forged by the faithfulness of Abraham and the vision of Moses was all but gone. Babylon simply struck the fatal blow. The game of cat and mouse Israel had been playing with God was over. There was nothing left but ashes and mourning.
All indications pointed to the sober reality that God had finally given up on His people. That the God of grace and forgiveness had finally had his fill of a sinful, rebellious people. Babylon had inflicted a much deserved verdict upon Israel and all hope was lost. Or was it? It seems if we listen between the lines of Ezra and Nehemiah we here the whisper of heaven. Can we fix it? Yes we can! This proclamation of hope is found prophetically through the words of the prophet Isaiah:
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
God was on the move once again. What the world saw as a hopeless pile of junk, God saw as an
opportunity for beautiful restoration. He was calling forth leaders who had a passion to rebuild sacred
spaces and fortifications that had been long destroyed. God had a passion to build a people from an
ancient blueprint that would once again establish Israel as a Holy Nation. It is hard to read these books of builders and not wonder: "If God can fix this mess, what can't he fix!"
The answer is clear. God is still in the business of restoration. This world may have tried to convince you and I that we are too far gone, too lost, too broken to be fixed. But today, the same heavenly voice speaks over you and over your circumstances: Can God fix it? YES HE CAN! Don't you think it is time to trade in those ashes for beauty. How about a little gladness for mourning? God is still in the business of total restoration. What if we stopped running and let our lives be next on his list! What an exciting thought!
Weekly Reading Of Ezra and Nehemiah
Monday - Ezra 1-5
Tuesday - Ezra 6-10
Wednesday - Nehemiah 1-4
Thursday - Nehemiah 5-7
Friday - Nehemiah 8-10
Saturday - Nehemiah 11-13
Posted by Unknown at 7:42 AM