Preparing to Rebuild the Temple

These events take place following the 70 years which Jeremiah had prophesied (Jeremiah 25:11).  Ezra is God’s man for returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple which was razed by the Babylonians and carried many captives of the land away.  Ezra had been faithful to God and His word through all the time of his life in that culture.  Hear the word of the LORD concerning these things…

This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him. And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. Ezra 7:6-10 (KJV)

I want us to keep in mind that today the temple of our Lord is His people – those who have believed and received the grace of God through the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son.  Sometimes even this temple needs a rebuilding.  We can let sin carry us away from God, His Spirit and His word; but He is never away from us.  If there is any rebuilding to do it starts with God doing the work in us, calling us to repentance, forsaking our sin, and coming back to what we believe in Christ.

Consider the following verses from Paul’s epistles…

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, to do it, and to teach it to others.  Let us as the temple of God be as committed, devoted and faithful to the LORD as was Ezra; and follow Jesus faithfully.

Day 31 – The King’s Cupbearer

I only wrote a bit of Nehemiah yesterday, so since my reading this morning was the rest of Nehemiah this writing will only deal with the King’s cupbearer.

My reading today began in Nehemiah 5 and extended to Esther 5.  I will deal with Esther, the Lord willing, in tomorrow’s commentary.

We are told that Nehemiah was a captive of Israel in Shushan the palace (1:1) of king Artaxerxes of Persia.  Nehemiah was the king’s “cupbearer (1:11).  This task was more than just simply carrying the cup of the king’s wine and drink.  Nehemiah was to taste the drink, then if he did not die from drinking it; because someone might be trying to assassinate the king; then, he would know that it was safe for the king.

Nehemiah was a man who had a heart for his home and people.  We see in verse 3 of chapter one that he had received word from Hanani who had returned from Judah that the remnant who had been left of the captivity were in great affliction, and it crushed his heart.

“And they said unto me, ‘The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.’  And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, and said, ‘I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love Him and observe His commandments: let Thine ear now be attentive, and Thine eyes open, that Thou mayest hear the prayer of Thy servant, which I pray before Thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel Thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against Thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.'” Nehemiah 1:3-6 (KJV)  (This prayer continues to the end of the chapter).

One day as Nehemiah is serving the king his countenance was sad (2:1-3).  He receives the king’s favor, and is allowed to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls.  When he arrives in Jerusalem he arises in the night and surveys the walls of the city to investigate the walls condition, and the work that would be needed to restore them.  When he tells the people of his plans.  There is some reluctance to the plan, and some outright mockery of the plan (2:19).  He tells them that “The God of heaven, He will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in  Jerusalem”; the latter part speaking to Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem, of course.

The work is started with the gates and the wall.  One of the things that must be doe when rebuilding something is to get the trash out of the way (4:10).

Once the work was squared away, and assignments made, and materials gathered the work on the wall was done in quick order.  They had to work with weapons on their sides and nearby.  They had a trumpeteer with Nehemiah at all times.  Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem hated the work of the Lord and His servants; and they were set to stop it.  That is the case with the servants of the devil in every age.  He is like a lion walking about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).

The wall is finished in 52 days (6:15).  They had a heart to work and to get the wall erected.

We need to remember that Nehemiah was a contemporary of Ezra, and we find Ezra present in the reading of the Law,

“And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: and Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen,’ with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.”  Nehemiah 8:5-6

In the 10th verse of chapter eight we find a verse which is very familiar to many Christians,

 “…for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

The people had heard the Law of the LORD, and began weeping, and mourning; and they are told to not weep nor mourn, but to rejoice in that day.  It was a day to celebrate because they had returned to the worship of the LORD of hosts.

There is a need among Christians today to rejoice in the wonderful grace of the Lord.  His work of grace is more than amazing; it is glorious.  We have much to rejoice in.  The joy of the LORD is our strength.  That is what The King’s Cupbearer was rejoicing in.

Nehemiah’s final prayer is short, but shows his dependency on the God of grace and the grace of God; “Remember me, O my God, for good” (13:31).

Come to the grace of God through the death, burial and bodily resurrection of His Son Jesus.  There is the source of joy and strength.

-Tim A. Blankenship