In my last post I mentioned how both Ezra and Nehemiah came out of Israel’s 70-year exile with a different purpose! Ezra came first; and, he purposed to rebuild the Temple according to God’s leading! Nehemiah followed him about 13 years later & God commissioned him to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem! Now, at first glance that seems backwards & counter intuitive, doesn’t it? Human logic would tell us to rebuild the walls 1st for their own protection, right? But, God led the exiles to rebuild the Temple first. Clearly, God prioritized the rebuilding of Israel spiritually!
-God Offered Greater Protection!
He had always told Israel that if they were faithful to Him that He would go before them & fight their battles for them! And, He wanted Israel to have faith that God Himself offered greater protection, for them, than any wall or military ever could! But, that took faith; and, Ezra was the one to bring Israel back to the centrality of God & His Word & the law! In fact, according to Ezra’s account, he actually leads the people to build an altar so they could sacrifice to God BEFORE they had even built the Temple! And, only then, after the place of worship was finished, does God work in Nehemiah’s heart & lead him to leave the Persian fortress city of Susa; and, return to Jerusalem to organize the rebuilding of the wall!
-Right Relationship With God!
Now, there’s a spiritual parallel here for us, isn’t there? Do you see it? They had the projects in the right order because worship & a right relationship with God is of greater importance than anything else we could accomplish in life! But, we tend to get these turned around in our lives don’t we! Leaning on our human logic, we often prioritize the building of our “walls” first. We take care of all the outside stuff first— our work & our play & our entertainment & our sleep! And, then, if we have time we’ll do the “spiritual” stuff— reading our Bibles, prayer, ministry!
-We All Have Time!
By the way, we all have the time! We all have 24 hours in a day! And, we determine what we get done based on what we give priority to! The parallels and the application are painfully obvious, aren’t they? We focus on the “walls” & only rebuild our “temple” if we have time, don’t we? That’s how our human logic works! Listen, God has created the same amount of time in all of our lives to rebuild our “temples.” To take proper care of our spiritual lives! Our problem isn’t about the time! We’ve set up the wrong priorities in our lives! We haven’t given God first place! That’s why God leads Ezra to set the spiritual tone first!
-Better Than Human Logic!
God’s ways are always superior to our human logic! It’s been 70 years since Babylon took Israel into captivity! That’s like 2 or 3 generations later! There were a few old timers returning home; but, the vast majority of these Israelite refugees were born in a province of Babylon. So, they had never see the original Temple. They had never set foot in Jerusalem. They weren’t part of Israel’s disobedience & idol worship that led to God’s judgment & exile! So, even as God judged Israel’s unbelief, when they came out of Egypt at the Exodus; and, He would not permit them to enter the promised land until that generation had died off; God also waited until most of the exiled generation had died off in Babylon before He arranged for a new generation to return! And, like Moses previously, God raised up Ezra to lead them spiritually!