Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Reflections from Ezra

Praise God, His faithfulness endures.
These words just hit me as I read the first three chapters of Ezra, this morning. I've not read Ezra before, but from what I'm seeing so far, it's the story of the rebuilding of the temple under king Cyrus. King Nebuchadnezzar had exiled Israel, but king Cyrus sent them all back to their home, giving instructions to them to rebuild the temple and for all neighboring nations and peoples to assist the Israelites in any way possible with the reconstruction of the Temple of God. Cyrus returned Israels treasures to them, and even gave special permission to aid their work in obeying God. It's really amazing to see a king, who was not of Israel, glorify and obey God. Really cool.
So the Israelites start to head back and finally get to their towns, and assemble in Jerusalem for a singular purpose: rebuilding the altar of God. The place of sacrifice, the place at which they glorify God was the first thing they made. The Israelites were afraid of the others around them, for whatever reason, but worked to give God glory despite their fear. That just hit me pretty hard... I mean, really, how often do I stop caring about what the people around me think, and truly live to glorify God? Not often enough. I have to admit that God has been teaching me to love him more than I love the attention and approval of others, but I still falter, I still fail. I love this strong faith in God. The Israelites could have been killed for sacrificing to God, and were left out in the open, as construction on the foundation had not even begun as of yet, but worked to obey. I need that. I need to work to obey God, and not others around me whose opinions I shamefully value as higher than my Lord's.
But then I look at Israel's history... they were exiled for a reason, generally it was disobedience that got them the boot from their lands and homes. I know that feeling. But God brought them back time and again, as I know He does with my wayward heart. Just as He allowed the Israelites to come back to Him and to live for him, so He does with me. Allows me the chance to be rebuilt in an image pleasing to God and to be further refined. wow. "I don't know where I'd be without God's love" is a lie. I know exactly where I'd be. I'd be in exile somewhere, mocked and harassed, out of my element, openly receiving hostility. But I'm not. I'm safe and warm in His arms, learning His will and being allowed to glorify Christ as Lord.
True story.
I love my Jesus, He's never failed me, and I know that it's not ever going to happen.

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