Sermons tagged #Sheshbazzar
Congregational Reading: Ezra 1:1-11 * Download Handout Notes from PDF above (includes Charles Spurgeon "Quote of the Week"). Other Scriptures Cited: Prov 16:1; Phil 2:12; Jer 25:11-12; Isa 44:28; Jer 29:10-11; Rom 8:28; Prov 16:9; Deut 29:29; John 5:39; Luke 19:10; John 3:16; Jer 32:36-41; Jer 33:14-16; Isa 6:5; Luke 5:8; Rev 1:17; Heb 13:8; Matt 16:17; Psa 2:11; Isa 48:14; Rom 5:6-10
The people responded to the decree of Cyrus the Great to return to the promised land and start rebuilding their homes and, more importantly, the temple of the Lord. Sheshbazzar, one example among the chiefs and priests of courageous leadership, takes close to 50,000 people, along with 5,400 articles from Solomon's Temple, back to Israel 900 miles away. His is the first of a number of return trips, including Ezra and then Nehemiah. They lay the temple's foundation and hold a dedication service, which causes two different emotional reactions: one, some rejoice in the Lord's faithful goodness; others weep, perhaps because they know this temple will not compare to Solomon's. They do not realize that a greater than Solomon will someday grace this temple with his presence. The mixture of shouts of joy and weeping combine to make a "noise [that] was heard afar off." But then they encounter opposition from the Samaritans, who go so far as to recruit the king of Persian to their side. And they succeed. They receive a "cease and desist" letter from the king. They impose this new decree and "by force of arms made them cease." The work on the temple comes to a halt. For 16 years, no work is done until the Lord sends Haggai and Zechariah to preach and admonish the people. Which leads to another question for next time: why is building the temple so important?
Renovation Of God's Things_02 Ezra 1:7-11 The book of Ezra opens in 538 B.C., 48 years after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, defeated the southern kingdom of Judah, and carried the Jews away to Babylon as captives (2 Kings 25; 2 Chronicles 36). Nebuchadnezzar died in 562, and because his successors were not strong, Babylon was overthrown by Persia in 539, just prior to the events recorded in this book. Both the Babylonians and the Persians had a relaxed policy toward their captives, allowing them to own land and homes and to take ordinary jobs. Many Jews such as Daniel, Mordecai, and Esther rose to prominent positions within the nation. King Cyrus of Persia went a step further: He allowed many groups of exiles, including the Jews, to return to their homelands. By doing this, he hoped to win their loyalty and thus provide buffer zones around the borders of his empire. For the Jews this was a day of hope, a new beginning.Almost 50,000 Jews left Babylon and returned to Palestine. Three years later, in 535 B.C, they laid the foundation for a new Temple, thus ending the 70 years of their captivity.A significant contribution of wealth was made by King Cyrus himself. He returned all the temple furnishings and articles that Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had plundered.Persia's treasurer, a man named Mithredath, counted the temple articles and turned them over to the leader of the returning exiles, Sheshbazzar v.8-10. These items or articles were to be placed in the temple after its construction. Obviously, the articles included the dishes, bowls, pans, knives, and other utensils or items needed in the slaughtering of sacrifices and in the other functions of worship.
Renovation of God's Things_02 Ezra 1:7-11 The list of vessels taken from the Temple by the Babylonians and now restored to Israel to be used once more in the renewed Temple v. 7, 9-1I is a reminder of the splendor of the Temple in previous times. Nevertheless, almost 50,000 Jews decided to return 49,897 to be exact; Ezra 2:64-65. But note what was behind their decision to return.The LORD moved their hearts v.5.Their neighbors willingly gave them financial aid, supplies, and livestock, as well as freewill offerings.Their gifts were to be used for the rebuilding of the homes, society, and temple of the nation. The preparation for the returning exiles is a striking picture for us. Their preparation shows us how we must be prepared to serve the LORD. We must be prepared spiritually to serve God just as they were prepared spiritually. God's Holy Word gives us at least seven ways to prepare ourselves for service: We must first be saved through the Lord Jesus Christ. We must ask the Lord to create a clean heart and to renew a right spirit within us. We must put off the old man and put on the new man. We must present our bodies as a living sacrifice to the Lord and not be conformed to this world. We must obey God and follow His leadership, the stirrings of His Spirit within our heart. We must seek those things that are above, the heavenly things of God. We must pray continually, seeking the Lord for strength and waiting upon Him to renew our strength. We must put on the whole armor of God so that we can stand against all temptations and trials. We must trust the Lord with all our heart and acknowledge Him in all our ways. We must be prepared materially to serve the Lord.
This sermon looks at the circumstances on the ground for the Jews who returned to Judah after the Babylonian captivity and how difficult their times were even though they were serving the Lord and doing His will. The opposition to their work was immense and well coordinated. Nevertheless, alongside this opposition we see God's abundant grace which is revealed through the abundance of revelation given to His people at that time. This sermon attempts to show how all of these historical details fit together and serve to encourage us today.