The Shepherd’s Love - Lesson 46
Ezra - Rebuilding the Temple
Ezra 1 - 10
Colossians 1:28 or Proverbs 21:1
The prophesied years of exile and bondage have been completed, and the Sovereign God of the universe has planned the homecoming of His people. In His perfect time, they will again live in the land and worship at the temple, but first they must enter into the process of restoration and reconstruction..
Dear Father, only in You and by Your strength can I participate in building Your house. Only in You is there victory over the enemy. Only in You can I hear and understand spiritual truth. And so I yield all of myself to You, that You may live fully in me, enabling me to triumph -- so that You may be glorified. Thank You, precious Lord and King.
1. Read Ezra 1 - 2:2.
A. How does God influence the hearts of people He uses to accomplish His purposes? (See verses 1, 5 and Proverbs 21:1)
B. What words and action show Cyrus' response to God's promptings?
C. Review Isaiah 45:1-13.
1. Which promises concerning Cyrus and his work on behalf of God's people do you see fulfilled in Ezra 1-2:2?
2. (Challenge) In Isaiah 45:4-5, God speaks concerning Cyrus, "I have given you a title of honor.... I have girded you, though you have not known Me." What do you see in Cyrus' life and heart which would explain why this foreign king was so highly favored by God?
D. Describe the practical results of Cyrus' proclamation as seen in Ezra 1:5-6 and 2:1.
2. Read Ezra 3. This first group of returning exiles were sent home with the expressed purpose of rebuilding "the house of God."
A. Which part of the temple did they build first? Why. (verses 2-3)
B. The celebration at the completion of the temple foundation kindles two distinct responses from the people. Describe these two responses. According to verses 10b-12, give the reason for each. (See also Haggai 2:3-9)
3. Read Ezra 4.
A. Describe the tactics of their adversaries as seen in the following verses:
B. How did Zerubbabel and the leaders of the people respond to the first tactic?
C. We, too, have an adversary. According to the following verses, describe your enemy. (Notice the similarity to the above adversaries.)
2 Corinthians 11:14-15
1 Peter 5:8-9
D. How do you resist and fight against your enemy? (See 2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:10-18)
4. Read Ezra 5:1-5 and chapter 6. The adversaries continued their attempts to stop God's work, but God had already laid the groundwork for victory. (Remember Daniel's witness of God's greatness to Darius) How do you see God's faithfulness and omnipotence?
5. Read Ezra 7.
A. Who was Ezra?
B. How did God continue to provide for the spiritual needs of the people?
6. Read Ezra 8:21-23, 31-32. As Ezra traveled from Babylon to Jerusalem with a large group of returning exiles and an abundance of riches for temple furnishings, he was aware of potential danger.
A. Why had Ezra not asked King Artaxerxes for protection for the journey?
B. How did Ezra seek and find protection and safety?
7. Read Ezra 9.
A. What sin had the people committed against God and in violation of the covenant agreement? (Review Deut. 7:2-4)
B. Describe Ezra's reaction to this unfaithfulness of the people.
8. Read Ezra 10:1-5, 11-12, 19.
A. When confronted with their sin -- and in response to Ezra's grief, what did the people do?
B. How does God want us to respond to sin in our lives? (See 2 Cor. 7:8-12; James 4:6-10, 5:16 and 1 John 1:9)
9. Two ongoing "building" projects are essential to the Church. One takes place in each individual believer: "for we are the temple of the living God" and our goal for each other is to "present every man complete in Christ."
The other is to build the Church, the Body of Christ, the union and growth of all believers into one mature body under the headship and Lordship of Jesus Christ. According to the following verses, how do we -- in Christ and by His life -- do the building He asks of us? (Remember, by His eternal covenant, we are His fellow-workers.)
A. Colossians 2:28-29
B. Ephesians 4:11-16, 22-32
C. Ephesians 5:6-21
SUGGESTED HYMN: O Master, let me walk with Thee
Next: Nehemiah - Rebuilding the Wall