Laying foundation - restoring worship - Ezra 1- 3
Following the decree of King Cyprus of Persia, Zerubbabel leads the first group of exiles back to Jerusalem from Babylon. They begin work on the altar, restore the offering of sacrifices and lay the foundation of the temple. The worship of God is brought back to Jerusalem. When God begins to move true and fervent worship is the first thing that is normally rejuvenated.
1. We are not absolutely sure who wrote the book of Ezra. Compare Ezra 1:1-3 with 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 and Nehemiah 8:1-2. This and other research have led Biblical scholars to suspect that Ezra wrote the books of Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah. Can you see any reason for this conclusion?
2. Read Ezra 1:1-4
Explain what was happening here? Now read the following scriptures - Jeremiah 25: 12-14, Jeremiah 29: 10-14, Isaiah 44: 26-28
Notice that both Jeremiah and Isaiah had prophesied about the return of the Israelites from captivity.
3. What else was contained in the prophecies given by Jeremiah and Isaiah? Can any of the promises in these prophecies apply to us? Elaborate.
4. Can you share with the group any prophecy you have received? Did it happen as prophesied?
5. What other ingredients does prophecy contain?
1 Corinthians 14:1-3
6. Can you remember any prophecy given to us as a church (or group)?
7. How important is prophecy in the life of a Christian fellowship or individual?
8. Ezra 1:1 records that God moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia. In Ezra 1:5 again God moved the heart of the people. What does this mean? How can we know when God is moving us to do something? Give an example of how God has moved your heart before?
9. Read Ezra 1:6-11. How did the people encourage those who were returning to Jerusalem? How can we encourage other people that are doing things for God? Mention some practical ways? You can get some tips from - Judges 7:10-12, Judges 20:21-23, Acts 9:30-32, Acts 16: 39-41
10. Ezra 2: 1-70 contains a long list of those who returned to Jerusalem. You can read that later tonight when you get home. For now read Ezra 2: 59-62. What happened to those whose names were not found registered in the official genealogy? What other records does God keep? Hint - Psalm 69:27-29, Philippians 4: 2-4, Revelations 3: 4-6. How can we get our names into this book? Please explain.
11. Read Ezra 3:1-7. Here we witness worship restored in Jerusalem. Try and explain how the following activities aided the restoration of worship and apply them to our life as a church today?
- Offering of sacrifices and a fear of God verses 1-4
- Daily offerings to the Lord - verse 4
- Free will offerings - Verse 5
- Giving money for the work - verse 7
12. In our worship of God what things can we do daily, voluntary and financially?
13. Read Ezra 3: 8-13. Zerubbabel lead the Israelites in laying the foundation of the temple. The elder Israelites were sad when they saw and compared this new temple (albeit foundation) with the one Solomon had built (1 Kings 6:1-38) many years ago (the old temple had been destroyed when Babylon took them into captivity 2 Kings 25:1-10). The younger Israelites were glad with the end product (Ezra 3:12). Neither group was aware that God had much more than a temple in store for them.
Have you ever been discouraged with what God has given you? How should we encourage ourselves? Hint - Jeremiah 29: 10-14
14. Mention some of the things you have learnt in this Bible study.
After completing this section of the study please use the next Bible study time to pray together as a group. The whole period should be dedicated to prayer. Take time to ask each other for personal prayer requests. Also make it a period of getting to know one another better.
Zerubbabel and Jeshua led the first group of exiles back to Jerusalem. Through hard work, dedication and the support of the people they restored the proper practise of worship in the city. Worship is vital in revival. This is not just the way we sing but also the way we live and conduct ourselves.
God's prophetic word was the foundation of the work in Jerusalem. God's written word is full of His promises to us. Walking in God's will requires knowing God's will and doing it. Prophecy reveals the mind of God and aids us in following his will. Prophecy comes to strengthen, encourage and comfort us. Strengthening can sometimes involve correcting and rebuking.
God often moves us to do his will. He puts godly desires within us. We can receive more of the blessings of God in our lives when we encourage other people that are doing the will of God. This could be someone new to the Christian faith, a mature and dedicated believer or someone not directly working with your church or ministry.
Heaven keeps records of the things we do. However, the main motivating force to doing the will of God should be our love for him. Our love for God will dictate how we conduct ourselves.
A healthy fear of God is a good place to begin our worship of him. This will mean placing a high regard on the things of God and the time we spend with him.