Day 19: Looking Ahead to the Coming of God’s Kingdom! (Part 2)

 I & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah

Now look at the southern tribes.

  • They also had twenty kings, starting with Solomon’s son Rehoboam. Israel fared somewhat better in that eight of those tried to lead Judah in the ways of the covenant (Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, Hezekiah, Josiah). But even of these eight, only four were wholly devoted to God.
  • This resulted in God giving them another two hundred years of freedom. But alas, they eventually fell.
  • It is important to note here that God’s attitude was not to abandon his people to their demise. Fact is, God never gave up on them! Through both the good times and the bad times, God graciously sent them prophets.
  • People who spoke on his behalf to either confront and rebuke Israel, or to encourage and give them hope as they battled with their spiritual apostasy. This resulted in maintaining a remnant of people who kept their faith and integrity in God!
  • These people then served as a beacon of hope, reminding Israel of their historic relationship with God and their identity, and calling as God’s people! One can’t help but compare this to modern times now where we see a small remnant of God’s people being a light to USA and reminding them of their historic relationship with God, and their past identity as a Christian nation!
  • To begin with, let’s look at how God sent two people who were considered prophets, to encourage his people to turn away from idols and to put their faith in him!


Elijah and Elisha

  • One of Elijah most famous stories of challenging Israel to return to God can be found in:
  • 1 Kings 18:18-40 "I have made no trouble for Israel," Elijah replied. "You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead. 19 Now summon all Israel to join me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who are supported by Jezebel."
  • So Ahab summoned all the people of Israel and the prophets to Mount Carmel. 21 Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, "How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!" But the people were completely silent.
  • Then Elijah said to them, "I am the only prophet of the Lord who is left, but Baal has 450 prophets. 23 Now bring two bulls. The prophets of Baal may choose whichever one they wish and cut it into pieces and lay it on the wood of their altar, but without setting fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood on the altar, but not set fire to it. 24 Then call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by setting fire to the wood is the true God!" And all the people agreed.
  • Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "You go first, for there are many of you. Choose one of the bulls, and prepare it and call on the name of your god. But do not set fire to the wood." So they prepared one of the bulls and placed it on the altar. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning until noontime, shouting, "O Baal, answer us!" But there was no reply of any kind. Then they danced, hobbling around the altar they had made.
  • About noontime Elijah began mocking them. "You'll have to shout louder," he scoffed, "for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming, or is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened!" So they shouted louder, and following their normal custom, they cut themselves with knives and swords until the blood gushed out.
  • They raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice, but still there was no sound, no reply, no response. Then Elijah called to the people, "Come over here!" They all crowded around him as he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been torn down.
  • He took twelve stones, one to represent each of the tribes of Israel, 32 and he used the stones to rebuild the altar in the name of the Lord. Then he dug a trench around the altar large enough to hold about three gallons. 33 He piled wood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces, and laid the pieces on the wood.
  • Then he said, "Fill four large jars with water, and pour the water over the offering and the wood." After they had done this, he said, "Do the same thing again!" And when they were finished, he said, "Now do it a third time!" So they did as he said, 35 and the water ran around the altar and even filled the trench.
  • At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, "O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. 37 O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself."
  • Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, "The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!"
  • Then Elijah commanded, "Seize all the prophets of Baal. Don't let a single one escape!" So the people seized them all, and Elijah took them down to the Kishon Valley and killed them there.
  • I won’t take the time to go into detail here, but let it be suffice just knowing that Elijah singlehanded took on 450 prophets of Baal and challenged them to a sort of duel!
  • Elijah challenged them to set up an altar and call on their God to send fire down upon it, and then he would do the same thing, except just to prove his God was not only the real God, but the most powerful God, doused his sacrifice in water.
  • Baals prophets exhausted themselves beseeching their God to send down fire, whereas when Elijah prayed, God immediately answered with fire, totally consuming the sacifice. At this point, Elijah challenged Israel to choose this day whom they would put their faith in. Israel chose to follow God and killed all the false prophets.
  • What a great example of what Prophets were called to do! First, he exposed the lies of the false prophets, and then did something that opened the eyes of Israel to see the true nature and power of their God! Then he challenged them to make a choice in who they were going to put their faith in!
  • This is also a great illustration of the battle we face each and every day. It’s the battle for the "now" moment. We can't change the past and we have no control over the future, but we can choose what we want to do in the now, and who and what to believe in the moment!
  • You see, the enemy loves to come in and say you are disqualified because of your past choices or say you are disqualified because you cannot guarantee that you will never make a mistake again in the future. But God says what is important is who you choose to put your faith in right now.
  • Another significant aspect of these two prophets Elijah and Elisha, was the ministry they did for people who were not Israelites. In a sense, they were forerunners of the ministry of Christ.
  • Consider this, when Jesus first came into ministry, he went home and during church, he got up and read Isaiah 61. This was a prophesy regarding the coming of the Messiah. The people he grew up were shocked and could not believe that this boy who they had known since he was a little lad, was now claiming this title for himself.
  • But what really got them riled up, is when he revealed to them that his ministry was not just to the Jewish nation, but to all the gentiles as well by using Elijah and Elisha as his examples!
  • Luke 4:24-27 "I tell you the truth," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.  And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed-only Naaman the Syrian."


Despite the heroic efforts of the prophets, the southern kingdom still fell!

  • People eventually got seduced into doing evil again by worshiping Idols! And as Paul said in the New Testament; Gal 6:7-9 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
  • You see, evil begets evil, which begats evil, which begats even more evil, causing things to get worse and worse. As time goes on and there was so much evil happening, one has to stop and ask the question: God are you still in control?
  • It looks like the enemy is successfully having his way with your people. So, where are you? Well obviously, God is still in control and has never been out of control.


One great example of this is the story of a child whose name was Joash!

  • This story reads like an afternoon soap opera. Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, had a son named Jehoram. Jehoram met his wife, Athaliah, while his father was visiting Ahab, king of Israel, during a period of peace. Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. What probably started out as a palace romance turned into the most decadent marriage in all of Israel.
  • I say that because Jezebel became the symbol for witchcraft in the Bible, and for good reason! Together this mother and daughter would stand as the evilest women in all the Bible. It was probably Athaliah who influenced her husband to kill all his brothers and some of the leaders in Israel to consolidate his throne.
  • For his wicked deeds, Jehoram died a gruesome death at the word of Elijah. He contracted an incurable disease of the bowels that caused great pain and eventually killed him (2 Chr. 2 1.14-19).
  • His tragic death just added to the unparalleled horrors that Athaliah had seen in her life. Her father, Ahab, was eventually killed in the war. The body of her mother, Jezebel, was pushed out a window and eaten by dogs. Her brother, Joram, king of Israel, was killed by the prophet Jehu.
  • All her sons, except Ahaziah, had been captured by raiding Philistines and Arabians. Her husband Jehoram, king of Judah, had now died in great pain and her only remaining son, Ahaziah, king of Judah, was killed by the men of Jehu, to avenge the cruelty of Jezebel.
  • With her son, Ahaziah, now dead, she slaughtered all her grandchildren so she could seize the throne!
  • No doubt inspired by Satan himself, the royal line of promise hung by a thread. But there was one grandchild she missed, Joash! By the sovereign intervention of God, the only remaining heir had escaped through the courageous efforts of his aunt, Jehosheba, the sister of Ahaziah and the wife of the godly priest Jehoiada. She hid her baby nephew in the one place Athaliah would never go and in fact, avoided at all cost, the temple!
  • Think about this, the entire, worldwide plan of God now rested on the life of this one small child. Lose this child and the seed of David dies and Satan wins. But God was not about to be thwarted!
  • The child, Joash, was raised in secret for six years under the protection of the priests. It was in the seventh year (remember that the number 7 stands for God’s perfection in the Bible) of the reign of his wicked grandmother, Athaliah, that Jeholada brought out Joash, now 7 years old, and put a crown on him.
  • 2 Kings 11:12-16 Jehoiada brought out the king's son and put the crown on him; he presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king. They anointed him, and the people clapped their hands and shouted, "Long live the king!"
  • When Athaliah heard the noise made by the guards and the people, she went to the people at the temple of the LORD.  She looked and there was the king, standing by the pillar, as the custom was. The officers and the trumpeters were beside the king, and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets.
  • Then Athaliah tore her robes and called out, "Treason! Treason!"  Jehoiada the priest ordered the commanders of units of a hundred, who were in charge of the troops: "Bring her out between the ranks and put to the sword anyone who follows her." For the priest had said, "She must not be put to death in the temple of the LORD."  
  • So they seized her as she reached the place where the horses enter the palace grounds, and there she was put to death. 
  • God succeeded! Satan had tried one more time to destroy the plan of God but as God himself has said in the Scriptures:
  • Isa 46:8-13 "Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say:
  • My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.
  • Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are far from righteousness. I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel.
  • Are you hearing this? When it comes to God’s plan; what I have planned, that will I do! In other words, nothing can stop it. This now brings us to third section:


III. The kingdom judged

  • Heb 12:5-6 "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." 
  • It became clear to God that the only way to totally clean and purify his people was to allow them to experience exile in captivity to a foreign nation. Remember, this is exactly what he said would happen back in the book of Deuteronomy if they broke their covenant with God!
  • So, concerning the Northern kingdoms, God raised up the Assyrians who came in and took captive their capital, along with the rest of the northern kingdom Samaria, and scattered the people to the utter ends of the earth.
  • As time went on, gentiles resettled into Samaria by mingling with the Jewish remnant that had been allowed to remain in the land. The intermarriage of these peoples would produce another race that came to be known as the Samaritans.
  • Samaritans went on to develop their own religious interpretation of the Jewish faith that was distinct from the historic Jewish faith. By the time the New Testament era arrived, the Samaritans were hated and considered half breeds by those who consider themselves pure Jews.
  • This obviously did stop Jesus from reaching out to them (the story of the women and well) and ministering to them, which led to a spiritual revival (John 4). Jesus also referred to them in one of this famous parables call the “Good Samaritan.” (Luke 10:30)
  • Going back to this time in history, while the northern kingdom had been taken captive by Assyrians, the two remaining tribes of the southern kingdom continued for almost two hundred more years due to periodic revivals, until finally the sins of king Manasseh that finally brought down the judgment of God.
  • In 605 B.C. God raised up the powerful nation of Babylon to lay siege against Jerusalem and destroy it. There were three waves of this defeat over the course of the next twenty years. The final blow came in 586 when Jerusalem was leveled and the temple destroyed, thus ending the offering of sacrifices to atone for sin.
  • One needs to point out the significance of how long God waited to bring judgment. What a great picture of the grace and mercy of God. Indeed, God's patience for this people is beyond comprehension.
  • So amazing was his mercy, that after captivity, someone wrote a psalm totally dedicated to this concept!
  • Ps 136:1-5 Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever . Oh, give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy endures forever: To Him who alone does great wonders, For His mercy endures forever; To Him who by wisdom made the heavens, For His mercy endures forever;
  • The psalmist goes on to talk through the entire history of Israel and how God’s mercy was seen in every major event they had experienced. Then when you jumped to the end you find this:
  • Ps 136:23-24 Who remembered us in our lowly state, For His mercy endures forever; And rescued us from our enemies, For His mercy endures forever;
  • This Psalm is specifically referring to their falling as a nation to worship idols, which led to being taken captive until they learned their lesson. And then being set free from their captures and returning to Jerusalem to rebuild their city and temple.


IV. God's people are taken captive and exiled

  • According to Lev 26:33-36 I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins. Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it...
  • Did you catch that? The number of years of their exile would be calculated according to the number of Sabbatical Years Israel had missed. Remember, Israel was to give their land rest once every seven years. In this way the land would enjoy its rest. Jeremiah said that the exile in Babylon would last seventy years, so they must have missed 10 sabbatical years! Jer 29.10  This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.
  • During these seventy years Israel’s faith in God was shaken to its very core. They wrestled with the same things we all wrestle with when our lives are turned upside down.
  • They wrestled with the twin concepts of the shame of their own sin and the possibility that their entire history, beginning with the call of Abraham, had all been a hoax.
  • Secondly, the exiles had deep theological problems. When the temple had been destroyed, all sacrifices for sin had ceased. How then would their sins now be atoned for? Thus, the question: because of my sins, am I beyond forgiveness?
  • Thirdly, had the glory of God departed from his people? What of the promises to David? Was it now all obsolete? Adam had failed. Noah had failed. But because God alone had passed between the sacrifices in Genesis 15 it was thought that it would be different now, but alas, the Israelites now wondered if there would be any hope at all. Had they failed so badly that not even God could fix it?
  • Tough questions, but I believe is one of the reasons why we have the book of Esther!


Esther: The book of Esther tells the story of God's providential protection of his people during a bleak moment in the Persian Empire thus preserving them for the future gift of the Messiah…


The story revolves around the actions of its four main characters:

  1. The Persian king Xerxes, mentioned by name 29 times.
  2. The arrogance villain Haman mentioned 48 times who was a foreigner who had been elevated to the highest place in the Empire next to the King himself. He was even more arrogant than the King and full of hatred for the Jews. He took great offense at any body who did not pay homage to him!
  3. The Jewish hero Mordecai mentioned 54 times. He was lesser court official who uncovers a plot to save the King's life! Then later, he refuses to bow to Haman, which offends Haman! And then to make things worse, the king orders Haman to honor him because he had saved his life. This great humiliation inspires Haman create a plan to kill all Jews in the Empire. Unfortunately for him, he did not realize that the kings queen was Jewish. When this comes to light, Haman’s plot is foiled, and he is put to death.
  4. And lastly, the heroine, Mordecai's younger cousin Esther who is mentioned 48 times. She became queen by winning a beauty contests and was the one responsible for unraveling Haman's plot, therefore saving the Jews from annihilation.

Another significant point is that even though God is never mentioned in the book, the author nonetheless expects his intended readers to see God at work at every turn in the story!

  • The choosing of Esther as Queen.
  • The King's sleepless nights in which she discovers that he failed to honor Mordecai.
  • The uncovering of the plot that Haman was planning against the Jewish people.


Of course, to foil this plan, the queen needs to talk to the king. But there was a problem. One couldn’t see the king without an invitation, and this included the queen. Everyone knew when one went before the king without an invitation, one did at their own risk. That risk being put to death!

  • It was because of this risk and her fear of what might happen that Mordecai gave his most famous line and probably the most important line of the entire book:
  • Est 4:14  For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"
  • Well, you know the rest of the story. After fasting for three days, she went to king, who gave her favor, thereby allowing her expose Haman’s plot and save her people.
  • Thus, the book of Esther is dedicated to answering the question: does God still care about them after they so royally screwed up for so many years. And the answer to that question is a resounding… YES!
  • This brings us to the final stage…


V, The restoration of God's people and the building of the second temple.

  • After 70 years in captivity, God’s people finally turn their hearts back to God. A process that came about in three different waves:
  • The first wave was led by Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah, and Joshua, the high priest. Joshua lineage went all the bck to the line of Zadok, the high priest under the reign of Solomon. He made sure that the sacrificial system was reinstated and the temple was rebuilt through the governor of Judah, Zerubabbel (whose lineage went all the back to David) and the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah.
  • In the second wave, the prophet Ezra (who wrote the book of Ezra, began to teach the law to those who made the journey from exile, to prevent them from repeating their past mistakes of worshiping idols!
  • In the third wave, possibly 12 years after Ezra arrival, the work had come to a standstill.  So, God sent the prophet Nehemiah who wrote the Book of Nehemiah! His job was to set a fire under Israel to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. This work surprisingly only took a few months. This was important because the walls gave Jerusalem identity.
  • Thus, we have the three keys to restoration: (1) The restoration of relationship to God by the return of God’s presence through sacrifice and the rebuilding the temple (2) The restoration of God’s image through the giving of the law (3) The restoration of the identity as God’s people through the rebuilding of the walls and renewing their covenant with God. 
  • There are two other observations to be made here that are significant! First, this process took far longer than what people had envisioned or expected. Secondly, this temple and city never reached the grandeur of Solomon’s temple, even though the prophet Haggie seem to prophesy this:
  • Hag 2:6-9 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory ,' says the LORD Almighty. 'The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty. 'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house ,' says the LORD Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the LORD Almighty."
  • What we know, but they didn’t, was that this prophesy would be fulfilled with the coming of Christ. But for them, at that time, were left with both this sense that they had seen the restoration of God’s temple and city, but there was still something lacking, something missing. In other words, there was more still more to come.
  • This longing for something more took the form of their longing for the Messiah to come.
  • Meaning for the next 400 years, Israel looked forward to the time that the Messiah would come, and his glorious kingdom would be established for ever and ever.


Application for today:

  • More than any other portion of scripture, we are given insight into a historic pattern that can be applied to our day! We have an amazingly accurate picture of our church history. Consider this:
  • David was a type of the coming of Christ, who gave birth to Solomon, a picture of the church. Like Solomon, the church had a great and glorious beginning, who then ended up falling into idolatry and ended up in captivity.
  • After the passing of the apostles, and with the coming of the next century, we see the slow spiritual decline of the church as they switched from their dependency on the power of the Holy Spirit to religious structure.
  • Then 350 years later, Constantine, the emperor of Constantinople, converted to Christianity and then decided to make Christianity the state religion, which meant that all the other religions needed to merge with Christianity.
  • This of course was devastating to the spiritual life of the church. Much like captivity was to Israel, now so with the church. This period of church led to an extreme time of the darkness and spiritual bondage as represented by the Catholic Church at that time. A time where the pope's (The sovereign leaders of the church) were literally murdering one another for this place of power! Hand in hand with their lust for power, came this self-righteous arrogance that assumed that they had the sole power to determine who got saved and who did not.
  • But God’s plan was not to be thwarted. God was still on the move, as seen in the promise given to us through Luke in the book of Acts!
  • Acts 3:17-21 "Friends, I realize that what you did to Jesus was done in ignorance; and the same can be said of your leaders. 18 But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had declared about the Messiah beforehand — that he must suffer all these things. Now turn from your sins and turn to God, so you can be cleansed of your sins. Then wonderful times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will send Jesus your Messiah to you again. For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his prophets.
  • From the day that the church fell into captivity to now, God has been in the process of seeing his people restored by reintroducing to us some of the basic truths of God’s kingdom. Things like, we are saved through faith alone, not by works.
  • This of course was the great revelation of Martin Luther! It was this singular truth that set into motion the whole Reformation movement that continues today!
  • But there have been many more restored truths since then, through people like John Wesley who gave birth to the holiness movement that said it was not enough to have faith to be saved, but God was calling us to purity and holiness! This revelation set in motion the restoration of the image of God.
  • And then there was George Whitefield, who God used to give birth to the great awakening in New England! And then there was William Seymour, who God used to restored the power of the Holy Spirit through the Azusa street revival in Los Angeles in the1906. And on and on throughout the years, God has raised up many others to fulfill the promise in Acts.
  • So, when I read books like Ezra and Nehemiah, I see in them God’s heart and longing to restore his people to himself and to re-establish his image in our lives so that he can fill the earth with his glory, thereby fulfilling the Genesis mandate God gave Adam and Eve!  
  • Ezra 1:2-4 Who among you belongs to his people? GOD be with you! Go to Jerusalem which is in Judah and build The Temple of GOD, the God of Israel, Jerusalem's God. Those who stay behind, wherever they happen to live, will support them with silver, gold, tools, and pack animals, along with Freewill-Offerings for The Temple of God in Jerusalem.
  • Neh 1:1-4 At the time I was in the palace complex at Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, had just arrived from Judah with some fellow Jews. I asked them about the conditions among the Jews there who had survived the exile, and about Jerusalem. They told me, "The exile survivors who are left there in the province are in bad shape. Conditions are appalling. The wall of Jerusalem is still rubble; the city gates are still cinders." When I heard this, I sat down and wept. I mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God-of-Heaven. 
  • Do hear the urgent cry of God’s heart? You must go and build my house. My house, my people, are in disrepair! My house is in still in rubble! My house therefor needs you!
  • So overwhelmed with God’s heart, Nehemiah wept, mourned, fasted and prayed for days that God’s house would be restored. Do you think it’s any different today?
  • Eph 2:19-22 That's plain enough, isn't it? You're no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You're no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He's using us all — irrespective of how we got here — in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he's using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day — a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.
  • We are no longer exiles! We are being restored! God is building his New Testament temple, and we are all part of it! We are watching it take shape, every day, a holy temple being built by God!
  • 1 Peter 2:4-6 As you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him- you also, like living stones , are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
  • This is the New Testament picture of the church, you and I are living stones who are being joined, fitted and brought together to become his house!
  • But it’s more than just allowing God to join us to one another in love. We all have a vital role to play in what he is doing. 
  • Eph 4:14-16  Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
  • This means that you and I are now the Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s of today, called to give what gifts God has given us, to the up building of God’s church!
  • So, when people today ask: What is God doing today? The answer is: He is building up his body, his church, his temple until we as a church grow up and reflect God in every way.
  • Eph 4:11-13 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
  • Just like God challenged Ezra and Nehemiah to be concerned with the building of his house, so is God calling us to take up his heart for his purpose of building his temple, his people, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. To declare the praises of God to the whole earth!
  • 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
  • AMEN!