Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Restoration And Rebuilding

Focus verses: Ezra 3:7-4:5

After seventy years of exile, the children of Israel are allowed to return to their homeland. King Cyrus of Persia not only restores the people, but he also returns the sacred vessels that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple.

Very shortly after their repatriation, the Israelites built an altar for their sacrifices. And they collected donations toward the rebuilding of the temple. Fourteen months after their arrival back home, the rebuilding of the temple began. It seems the people were all of one accord on this because everyone participated.

By the time the foundation was laid, there was a huge celebration. There were shouts of joy from the younger people. But those who were old enough to remember the temple before its destruction responded with tears.

I would imagine that their joy was bitter-sweet. They were probably ruing the lost years. Seventy years of exile because of their faithlessness. They might have been rejoicing that there was a new beginning. And perhaps they were thinking of the work ahead and the probability that the younger people would not have a complete appreciation of all that entailed.

Restoration is a wonderful thing. It is a chance for a new beginning. God wipes the slate clean and allows a fresh start. But restoration comes only after a loss. It is the fruit of grief. Therefore it is not an unmixed blessing.

You can be sure that once God has restored something to you, the enemy will be on hand to see that the restoration is not completed.

Look at the verses in Ezra 4. First the enemy comes to "help" with the work. And when their help was rejected, they started scheming how to discourage the workers and hinder the work.

Our major task in restoration and rebuilding is not to let the enemy discourage us. We must keep our eyes on the task ahead and move forward without hesitation. If we stay focused on the Lord and the work He would have us do, we will remain faithful. When we allow distractions to enter the picture, we have begun the fall into infidelity yet again.

Father, God,

Keep us ever faithful to Your plans. Let us not be drawn away by the enemy, either by dissuasion nor temptation. Strengthen our heart and hands to Your service at all times.
In Jesus' most precious name.

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