My shopping cart
Your cart is currently empty.Continue Shopping
Hi, I'm Lori. Welcome back to come follow me. Made easier today. We are jumping into the exciting books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Now, before we do, I want you to think about the following question. Have you ever had a time in your life? In which you'd failed and I'm not just talking about a sports failure, a financial failure when you just made a simple mistake.
But if you ever put your heart and soul, everything, you were your spirit, your heart effort, family, all your focus and everything into something with a good purpose. And yet. It didn't work out if you answered. Yes. And I'm guessing you have, then this is gonna be a book for you and the books Ezra and Nehemiah.
Both of 'em because this is a story about really great guys who kind of fail. There's also a second question that maybe will ask us, do you even know it's in this book? Okay. I'm kidding about the second question, but it isn't that common. So you wouldn't be amiss if you said, I don't even know what's in those books.
So today we're gonna try to jump into both of those questions. Really? What are these books about failure and success, and then really what's in them. And what do we have to learn from them? First, I'm gonna go through the context, the history background give us some grounding of where this is now.
That's actually interesting. So don't lose me yet. On the part one part two, I wanna do the structure of the book. The structure of the book actually is gonna give us the themes and really what's going on. So as if you've been on mine before at my podcast, I love structure tells us all about what's going on.
Number three, it's gonna lead us right into the themes. So I wanna give a couple of oversights into some of the themes that we're gonna find here because the themes of the story are so artfully crafted and spiritually done that understanding the themes really gonna help us.
And last I want. Actually dig in and we're gonna jump into some detail now, never fear if you have not really studied Ezra or Nehemiah you're not alone. It is one of the least popular books of scripture. And just a few things as we jump into context is that no new Testament author including the gospels, Paul, Jesus Christ himself, quote from the books of Ezra and Nehemiah
so you're not alone if you're like, what are these? And and then another silly side note, I had to do a final of an old Testament class, and I had to write a pretty serious set of essays on the book books of Ezra and Nehemiah. So I have learned to love them because I I had a big test on them some years ago.
Let's start with context. So first, what's going on? Where do these books, where do they fall in history? Now this is a little bit confusing. Is when you look at your old Testament, maybe you open to the table of contents. You're gonna see it's has the first five books of Moses sometimes called the pentateuch Genesis Exodus, Leviticus numbers.
Dueronomy. And then you're gonna get into what we also call the Ketuvim or the prophets, but really what's gonna happen is they're going to be histories first. So the way that the the Bible order has been in different orders and you'll find them in different orders today, by the way. So if you read a Catholic Bible or a Jewish Bible you'll find that the orders of the books, the order of the books is different,
in a Protestant Bible or a the Bible that we use king James version it's a Protestant version. And so it has the histories next. So you're gonna see Joshua judges, Ruth, and then all the books. They have two names. So Samuel King's Chronicles, Nehemiah, Esther. And Ezra Nehemiah.
that's why they come there is cuz it's at the end of these histories. And then the next set of books that you're gonna get are gonna be the Prophets. So that's all the books with the names. There are three major Prophets and then 12 minor Prophets. That's an important theme later. So you're gonna get the Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Isaiah's the big three.
And then the 12 Prophets called minor, mostly just cuz they're short and that's one big book, actually all 12 of them. So those are. Zacharia Habakkuk, names. You probably don't know very well. So there in that set, there are also some poems and some other wisdom literature. So Psalms, Proverbs, ecclesiastes, some of those.
So they're grouped in the old Testament by those groups. So you have the first five books, then you have histories where Ezra and Nehemiah are gonna come last. And then you're gonna into these Prophets. Now, here's why this is important. Because chronologically they're all over the place.
So while you start with Genesis and you go through the histories, when we get to Ezra and Nehemiah, they're actually like the very latest books in the old Testament before you get to the new Testament period. And there's a break in there even so far, then you get into about, let's say I wrote it down.
It was like 5 86. at 5 39 BC to 4 46 BC. So the five hundreds that in there. So they're really a long time. Even after the time that Lehigh left Jerusalem to these stories happen. So Ezra and Nehemiah are some of the very very latest Prophets or writings in the old Testament.
Then there's a gap. And then the new Testament begins. When you read it, you're like, wow, we're already at Ezra and Nehemiah, but really because of that organization of kind of histories, then that's why it falls here. So you're going to find, as you continue to study through, come follow me this year that you're gonna be jumping around chronologically.
Don't let that throw you off. Another thing is Ezra and Nehemiah in the Jewish Bible are one book. So while they're two people in the book really takes part with three people. They're often they're considered one book for most. So sometimes I'll say a book. Cuz I, I don't know. I learned that somewhere.
So Ezra and Nehemiah, two different guys two different books for us, but they're usually considered parts of the same book. All right. So don't let that throw you off and you can now use that silly trivia to amaze friends. Where does this fall in history? Which again, we said, like in the 500.
5 39 to 4 46. And it's also a time in which Israel, the we had all the kingdoms they had combined with David and Solomon, and then they're gonna split into the United, the separate kingdoms. So Israel and the top kind of in the north, and Efrim being the lead tribe up there.
So the 10 tribes in the north and then Judah and Jerusalem and the bottom tribes. Now, obviously the tribes lived all over. So you'd have tribes living in all the cities, but Judah's in the south, Israel's in the north Efrim Judah. Some Mar Shiloh, some of the cities up there areas and download Jerusalem.
So these at the time that we're gonna find Ezra Nehemiah, not only have the Northern 10. Been sacked and taken away by a Syria. You're also gonna find a couple hundred years at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah you're actually gonna find that the Southern kingdom has also been sacked and taken away, but not by a Syria, but Babylon.
So they've been the tribes of Judah have been taken away into Babylon and we find ourselves about 50 years after that exile. And now they're going to be coming back. And so this is the point at which the exile on the diaspora the sprinkling spreading scattering is going to start to be re undone.
And so that's where we find ourselves. So it's really far. So we've already had the United Kingdom, the separated kingdom, the north gone, the south gone, and now they're coming back. And so that's where we find ourselves in the history is really a long ways away. now I was gonna do a timeline of all these Kings, whether it's Artxerxes and, and, and Darius and Cyrus, the king and Persian king.
But here's something that's really fascinating as we move into 0.2 the structure of Ezra Nehemiah. Is not chronological. And in fact, it jumps around a bit, you'll find yourself reading part of the story and then it will jump into the future and then it will go way back into the past.
And then it will go farther forward into the future, again, just in the short books. And that's because the author ASRA and AIA, we're not putting it together chronologically for you to. Like a history book story, but they're trying to teach us some important spiritual concepts. And so they've structured the book like that.
Isn't that great. So we often think of if it's gonna be historical and factual, it needs to follow a Chron, a chronology, or be some kind of data like that. But that's not what scripture's about scripture. The truth that scripture gives us is truth about God and our relationship to him. Not truth.
Who lived in 5 86 BC. So it's going to teach us truths about something bigger concepts. And so the scriptural author in this case has built the structure to help us understand that let's look at what the structure looks like. The structure or framework of Ezra, Nehemiah is really simple. And once you see it, it really helps understand what's going on.
So remember the kind of think of them as one big, long book, Ezra Nehemiah one book, not two books. And the first section, it comes in three sections. And so the first section is Ezra one through six, and then the next is Ezra seven through 14, that kind of wraps up the book of Ezra and then Nehemiah we go through.
Nehemiah one through seven is part three. So you have this part three and then there's this little conclusion, two little conclusion sections at the end for Nehemiah 12 and 13. So you have one, the first six chapters next seven chapters, then the first part of Nehemiahah and then just the last little bit there.
And what's gonna happen in those three sections Ezra, Ezra Nehemiah concluding is that these same events are gonna be shown. Three times. So you're like, wait, I just heard that story, but we're gonna see how the biblical author is just brilliant in this case, Ezra Nehemiah when, how they've written, it is to show us something really important.
So this parallel story three times happening is so we go, Hey, I recognize that. And so what they're gonna show, and I'm just looking at my notes is that first you're gonna see that there's gonna be a leader. For each of these sections, there's gonna be a leader. So the first one we're gonna meet is a guy named Zerubbabel
the second one is Ezra and the third one is Nehemiah. So you're gonna have a guy who's put in charge that God has chosen to try to lead the people back to him in some way. So the first part is an important leader. The second one is that leader is going to try to. Have the returning Israelites, remember they're in Babylon and they're gonna come way back down to the area around Jerusalem.
And he's going to try, they're going to face some kind of opposition. So it could be they're returning to the land. It could be, they need to rebuild the temple, or it could be, they need to refresh their covenants and learn to be obedient again. But each one of them is going to face a different opposition.
then there the same, the third three guys are going to do counter that opposition in a different way. So one is going to build the temple. One is going to help them return to scriptures and covenant obedience and the other one's going to rebuild the city wall. And so each one of them again is going to have opposition and then a some kind of counter to the opposition.
So again, there's Zerubbabel Ezra, Nehemiah opposition counter the opposition. And then this is where it gets strange is the last part keeps happening for all of them. And that is, they're not gonna be very successful. So you're like, wait, that's strange. So again, Zerubbabel gonna do something. Ezra's gonna do something Nehemiah is gonna do something.
Ezra is go, Zerubbabel is going to rebuild the temple. And then the opposition he's gonna have all kinds of opposition in there from the people and from. Just getting everyone together, having the Levites there, he's got a lot going on. He's gonna have a problem then Ezra's going to try to return the people to covenant obedience by believing in the scriptures or the Torah.
He's going to have them return to covenant faithfulness. And they're not gonna do very well at it. So he's going to encourage them to do some, really, some really questionable things like that. You would seriously, these are crazy example. Nehemiah is going to rebuild the city wall. And he's gonna find that even though he is doing it they're not doing a very good job and they're not obeying God while they do it.
They start to build the wall and build build on the Sabbath and build markets and things around the wall. So each one's going to have opposition and each one's gonna have a solution. And then you're gonna find that the solution doesn't work. And so in the last two chapters in Nehemiah 12 part of 12 and then 13.
We're gonna find that there's a conclusion that we're gonna learn about that question that we asked at the beginning. And no spoilers yet. We'll get there, but you're gonna learn a little bit more about what is the response when you have a great leader and yet things don't always wake out, work out.
We're also gonna see that the leader sometimes makes some questionable choices. And so it's a case study. The book of as Nehemiah is a case study and what a good leader or each of us in our lives, when we try to implement godly things, what happens when it doesn't always work out according to plan.
That's the structure again, it's a three part structure, three different people who are gonna have opposition solution and then some lack of success. And we have some conclusions at the end, but that's the structure of Ezra and Nehemiah I, so as we go through, you'll see, it makes more sense.
Okay. So that's the structure, which leads us to the themes. So let's talk about that. So what are we supposed to get out of this as we go through some of the detail I want you to be seeing, if you notice some of the themes that the scriptural authors are gonna portray first through the structure, and second by just telling us some of it, but first. Hope each one of these leaders has hope that they can return their people to covenant faithfulness, that they can return to a point in which they're worshiping at the temple with the unique presence of God that they have the covenants written on their hearts.
And that they've really changed as a people and all the things that have led to their disaster and scattering could maybe be set to rights. They're also going to learn to work with people instead of not. Now, there are some downsides you're gonna see some bad examples when they get frustrated. And in fact, at one point one of the guys is yelling at people and pulling out their hair.
So they get really frustrated as leaders, but there are other great examples when they're leading by example and they're inviting the community to obey so we're gonna see examples of how to take a community who may be challenged and is learning to worship the Lord again and how to bring that covenant into faithfulness.
Now you say, Lori, I'm not leading a group of communities to build a temple or a wall or big communities into kind of covenant righteousness. I'm not the mayor or the governor or something. And yet in each of our own examples of life, whether we're at work or school with our families, with our friends, our community, our ward, -
we may find that we have leadership roles and that leadership may be just a voice leader, or you might be called as an actual leader. And in those roles, we're gonna say, how do I accomplish God's tasks? And so this is a great way to learn how to, and maybe how not to do those things. So the book of Ezra and Nehemiah is really unique and dissuasive at some points don't want to talking down too much.
You'll see that it's actually really applicable because those themes of hope in bringing people to God and how to lead a community in ourselves is really relevant today. Let's start out by just reading Ezra 1:1, and seeing if we can't set the stage on our detail, now, in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled. The Lord stirred up. The king of Cyrus, the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and put it also in writing saying, and there's gonna be a proclamation now, right outta the gate.
This is off putting, there were so many names and so much detail that when we start reading this, you have to know what's going on. So in the first three, versus there's gonna be this proclamation by a guy named Cyrus now. They Southern kingdom, the kingdom of Judah has been scattered.
So they've been sacked. The Temple's been burned to the ground. All of its important things taken out or destroyed. And then the people have been Enslaved and taken. And so that's the story that you're gonna find in the books of Jeremiah. You're gonna find it right. Leading up to Lehi and you're also gonna find that in the book of Daniel, for example.
So you remember Daniel is living with Nebuchadnezzar and all of that in the Daniel story, and that's. What's happening right now. Now we've actually already gone through the period of Babylon and then the people who took over Babylon are called the Meads and the Persians, and we're gonna find them and then you're gonna go into even more people.
So it's going to pass through a lot of hands in the next few hundred years. So at this point, the Babylonians have taken over and then the persons have beaten them. So it's about 50 years from the time that the Jerusalem has been sacked, the people have been removed. So again, you're about the time of Daniel.
So in that time, Cyrus, the king of Persia, it says that the spirit of the Lord works with him. And it says that that this is a great quote, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia. So the king at the time, Cyrus, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom. So we're gonna see an important feature.
And it's gonna be said many times, but the Lord is going to stir up the king now. Cyrus is Persian. He is not from the tribes of Israel, but the Lord is working with him. And so we're gonna find it's part of this great scope of this scattering of Israel, part of the gathering of Israel to give blessing to all nations, the promise that was given to Abraham and Genesis 12, Genesis 15 Genesis 17.
Part of that is that all nations would be blessed. And so how are you gonna bless all nations through Abraham? They're gonna scatter 'em all over. So part of this scattering is part of the thing of the plan of the Lord as part of the scattering and this redemption, the gathering that's going to begin way back when, and so you'll see it with Cyrus.
Starting right outta the gate. But when you first read this, and if you're reading this with your family, you're gonna say, then there was a lot of information run outta the gate and I just went through it too. And that's okay if it's a little overwhelming, but it's a lot of history, just know historically they were taken away and now they're coming back.
Now this idea of the spirit of the Lord's stirring up a change in people is a common theme, actually. So I looked up some other examples. It's part the part of Ezra. Nehemiahah. But Nehemiah have overarching follow. The story of many other Prophets, like we mentioned.
So Jeremiah, Isaiah on and on. So you're gonna see Malachi Lamentations a lot going on in the same time period. So there are all these contemporary Prophets writing at the same time. Don't let that throw you off, cuz you're gonna say, I've already heard this story and you're gonna hear it for the rest of the year, but here's this idea of being stirred up.
I looked up some example. Jeremiah 25, 11 through 12. And again, 29 through 10 fortold told the exile that would last a symbolic period of judgment for 70 years. So remember, they've been away about 50 years. So this Jeremiah said it's gonna be about 70 years, Jeremiah in chapter 25 and Isaiah in chapters, 10 and 40 through 55.
Develop a theology of God's sovereignty over the nations to use them according to his purposes. So we see that Jeremiah and Isaiah were gonna say, we were going to God was going to enact this as part of a bigger plan. Additionally, Jeremiah says, I'm gonna quote a couple Jeremiah 51:1-11 will stir up the spirit of a destroyer against Babylon.
The Lord has stirred. The Kings of the king of the Meads because his purpose is to destroy Babylon. The Lord will take vengeance for his temple. So she, Jeremiah is repeating the same idea. The Lord's gonna stir up. And Isaiah 13, 17 see I will stir up stir up against them. The means Isaiah 41, 2-3 , who has stirred up one from the east, calling him in righteousness to his.
Isaiah 45:25. I have stirred up one from the north and he comes Isaiah 45:13. I will stir up Cyrus. That same guy that we just talked about. I will stir up Cyrus in my righteousness. I will make his way straight. He will rebuild my kingdom and set my exiles free. And the point is this, that the return of the exiles is part of the fulfillment of God's promises to restore the people after exile.
But spoiler alert this isn't the final redemption of his people. First, we're gonna see the redemption of Jesus Christ who is coming to redeem all people. We're also gonna see a continuing gathering in Israel, continuing even today in our dispensation and part of our roles that we are out to help gather in all the exiles from all nations.
And so this part of this scattering and while they're gathering here, we're gonna see the Lord had a plan to have this happen so that he could bless all people. And did you catch that phrase being repeated over and over that we read in Ezra 1:1 that the spirit of the Lord stirred up. What does that mean?
That the Lord's in charge and this was all part of his plan. So remember the question we asked at this outset, he said, have you ever really planned something with your whole heart and soul? And it still failed? Sometimes I think one of the things we're starting to learn through the books of as read and Nehemiah is that even when you plan everything and it doesn't go quite the way you want, maybe.
When we ask God to do his will, he can bless it for our good, that it will be consecrated to us and dedicated this still work out some way, just maybe not the way that we expect. So that's how the story kind of starts out now. Where does it go from here? This king Cyrus the Lord bless us to say, you know what?
Instead of sacking all the people and keeping them here, enslaved, I'm gonna let them go back. So the Lord works with Cyrus and changes his heart. And so unlike the Babylonians Cyrus, the Persian is which was prophesied, which we just read in. Isaiah 45: 13 that Cyrus would let them return.
And so he does. So again, about 50 years later, they get a group of people and they say, you know what? You can go back to Jerusalem. In fact, I want you to go back and he's gonna help fund it. And that's where we meet our next group of people Zerubbable and let's introduce when we return back to the book itself, Ezra chapter one continues on to tell us about this edict. Cyrus Persia and he says, go ahead and get all the people. The Lord, God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms over the earth. I'm in verse two. And he has charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
So he says, go back and rebuild the temple. And then. There's this long edict. And he gives a bunch of instructions for them to take a bunch of their silver and their gold and cross the wilderness with those items. And then we're introduced to a couple of people. So I'm gonna paraphrase a little bit, but I wanna, these are important elements and I wanna point 'em out, but first let's read them.
So that was verse two. And then again, they go across the wilderness and then they're gonna take again, they're gonna repeat it a couple times. Verse seven chapter one of Ezra/ also Cyrus, the king brought forth vessels of the household, the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzer had brought forth out of Jerusalem and he put them in the house of the gods.
And even those did king Cy did Cyrus king of pers. Bring forth by the hand of some guy, the treasurer and numbered them shear the prince of Judah. So we meet our first guy Sheshbazzar,, and then we're gonna meet two more guys. I mentioned Zerubbabel and his friend Joshua. Here's why this is so cool. This whole story is very much like the Exodus story.
Yeah. The story of Moses they're now out in the wilderness and they're going to cross a wilderness together and they are going to be reinstated. In Jerusalem, just Joshua and Moses and those guys and not surprising the names are similar. Sheshbazzar, is a Babylonian name. We don't really know what that means, but the two other guys, Zerubbabel means to be planted.
In Babylon. So Babybel, you've heard of the tower of Babel that's Babylon and Zara. Like Zerahemla Hela means seed or to be planted like an offspring being born in. Just like we said, planted in offspring, it uses the same word. So Zara Z Aruba bell is one who was planted. So he was planted and grew up there, but he's gonna be moved and then guess who he is coming with,
a guy named Joshua. So very similar that silver and gold and all that stuff that they got. Remember, that's very similar to what happened to the children of Israel. When they left Egypt was they were given all the gold and the jewels and different precious things when they left Egypt and went across into the promised land.
So this has been about 50 years and there been the wilderness of Babybel or Babylon. And now this it's. Heavily symbolic of them returning on another Exodus to return. And they're going to build the temple again, the same idea of what happened in fast forward in Moses' day, Sinai, and then coming to Jerusalem, building the temple with Solomon.
So we're gonna see this pattern. Repeat. when we see patterns like this, they're called type scenes. So one of 'em here's one, a group that's led into the wilderness and comes into a promised land. So whether that's Jacob, Abraham Joseph going away and then his family coming back, Moses Ezra
Lehi you're gonna see stories go these type scenes over and over because we're supposed to say that's similar to one. I already know. And how is the Lord working with them? So that's the dream team and our first group is gonna be is Zerubbabel Sheshbazzar, and. Joshua. And they're going to grab a group of people.
Now, when they do this, they plan something really interesting in chapter two, you'll see that they actually take a bunch, they name a bunch of guys, and you're gonna say, Lori, this is just super boring stuff, but it's really cool, but you gotta pay attention when Zerubbabel believes he lists a bunch of people.
He lists 15 people. He lists 12 and three more, 12 and three, 12, and three. Is there a place that you can think where we have an important number of people that are 12? The 12 tribes of Israel, and later we're gonna see it with the 12 apostles in the 12 disciples. So you're gonna see 12, the number of priesthood, an authority, the tribes, and three, now you're gonna say that's like Peter, James and John, or father, son, and holy ghost. Correct. And those are all patterned on. Abraham Isaac and Joseph. So if you were taking a group of people that were exiles and you're gonna take them back to the land of Israel, and we've already said, this is like an Exodus, we're gonna pick people three guys and 12 guys you're like, Hey, that's just like they did back then.
So you're like, they're trying to show us, this is going to be a restitution. They're going to come back into the land and they're trying to rebuild the temple. So that's what these first couple chapters are, is all of this kind of history stuff that you're like. Wow. One of the other things they do is that they start on the first day of the month.
The first day of the month of the first of the year is when they leave. So Zerubbable plans, this whole thing to say, when we go, we're gonna do it exactly on a certain day, and he's gonna do this because that's when Moses when they leave cross the red sea, after the Passover, the Lord tells him this is gonna be the first day of the first year.
So again, a lot of just symbolism, that's gonna tie back to the Exodous story. Since we just read that a few months ago, hopefully that's fresh in your mind, but some of those details aren't details that you might have caught like the first day of the year and the first day of the month. But clearly he's picking things very clearly.
Also when he leaves, he gets different people from all the tribes and he starts to march out and then he realizes, wait, we're gonna go back and build the temple and we don't have any Levites now. Who were the Levites? You recall that the Levites were the special tribe that was dedicated to temple service.
So they have to not only carry the different items, but they have to perform the various rights, the sacrifices and do the sing, the songs, do the different temple ordinances that they were doing. So as Zerubbabel re realizes that he needs Levites so he goes and gathers a number of Levites to go with him.
So we can see that just from this story. He is really doing his homework. He, if he's gonna rebuild the temple. He knows it's important. He's gonna gather the people he's going to remind them how much this is going to be, like going into the wilderness and having a new event like Moses, they're going to rebuild the temple.
They're gonna bring the Levites and they're going to try to instigate that. So they're gonna build the te the alter, and then they're going to go from there. So you just see all of every line of this is going to be these symbols and these type scenes and these repetitive actions that Ezra is trying to do.
Okay. So when you remember, when we talked about the book of Ezra, Nehemiah have three main sections and the couple conclusions at the end, we're in part one, Ezra 1-6 and remember it had the similar patterns. She's gonna be a main guy in this case. Zerubbabel I've mentioned a couple of his buddies, Joshua and Sheshbazzar,
that is mouthful. And we've also mentioned that they're going to try to restore something important and they're gonna face some opposition. So do you remember what the opposition for Ezra's going to be? Yeah, it's some of the people in the neighborhood. So in Ezra for we're gonna hear the enemies of Judah.
So the returning Israelite are gonna - face some opposition. So let's go to Ezra and we're gonna learn a little bit about that.
In chapter four, we're gonna go back to chapter 32nd. In chapter four, we learned that they get a number of letters and some different issues of people in the surrounding areas that are like, Hey we don't. You can't be building here and you've gotta get back to the king and there's some letters and go back and forth.
So remember, one of our themes is you're gonna see this opposition, that's gonna come into play, but what were they opposing exactly. That's the whole point of this section. And the thing that they're doing is in chapter three. So in chapter three, you're gonna see, they're trying to rebuild the temple.
So when. This Zerubbabel goes, - gonna rebuild the temple. Remember it was completely raised and broken down. And so he is we're gonna restore this now. Remember, without the temple is a place, a special place where the presence of God dwells the special presence. So when they meet the Lord at Sinai, and then remember they come into the tabernacle
there's a special way that they know that the Lord's there. And that's when you have this kind of this glory, the shekhinah which is a word that's not found in the old Testament, but means the presence, but you have this cloud or the pillar of fire. And so it like glows. So the whole book of Exodus numbers, Deuteronomy, they're like, Hey, we're gonna show you how all this is gonna happen.
I'm sorry, Leviticus. So they're gonna like, how does that glory, how does the presence, the special, unique presence of the Lord? How do we know? It's. Remember, it's always like a cloud descends or a light is coming out of it. So they're going to Zerubbabel and his friends are going to build, rebuild the temple.
So they're gonna first set the altar, which basically is what makes a temple. So they're going to make the alter and then they're going to do sacrifices and they're gonna keep the feast of the Tabernacles and feast of the Tabernacles. Similar to this whole Moses thing is that they are going to be traveling.
The feast of tab Tabernacles is a festival that you live in a little booth for a week or so. Cuz you're commemorating when the Israeli. traveled through the wilderness and you live in a little booth, a tent to say, oh, remember when we were doing all of this with the children of Israel. So it's very appropriate in Ezra and a Nehemiah that when they build rebuild the temple in the altar, what do they do?
They worship and do this first ceremony. Tabernacles. Remember, that's the whole Moses theme that they're doing. So they do all of it and you're like, oh, they're gonna do it. And then - let me read at the end of three, because this is where you're like, oh, the to story takes a little bit of turn. So they build the alter, they do sacrifice and then they have the feast of Tabernacles and then they get to do that stuff.
And here is what happens. I'm gonna do just four verses at the end. Three verse 10. And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets and the Levites and the son of Asaph with symbols to praise the Lord after the ordinances of David, the king of Israel, and they sang together
by course, that's like a group of priests in praising and giving. Thanks unto the Lord because he is good for his mercy endureth forever toward Israel. And all the people shouted and with a great shout. And when they praise the Lord when they praise the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.
So you're like, oh, they've got the altar. They've worshiped. They're doing all the songs and the ordinances correctly. And they shout hooray. Right? You - I don't know what they said, but they shouted and altogether. And you're like, dun da, and then verse 12, but many of the priests in Levites and the chief of the fathers who were ancient men, that had seen the first house when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes wept with a loud voice and many shouted aloud for joy.
So you're like, they're like what? And then here's this key thing so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of weeping of the people for the people shouted with a loud shout and the noise was heard of far off. So the people shout hooray! They think this is it.
But the older people, the people that had seen the glory seen that presence of the Lord, it doesn't come. So they do everthing, but it fails. Where's the Lord, where's the special presence. So while the people are celebrating, that didn't know any better, the people, the older people who had been there and knew what the presence of the Lord was like, realized that it didn't come.
So we start to ask ourselves, when is it gonna come? When is the special presence of the Lord going to return? When is the Lord gonna return to his temple? And again, spoiler. It doesn't happen until Jesus comes right. And that's gonna be the great fulfillment of this promise. So while they're doing, trying to do everything, they can, they brought Levites, they celebrate it, they rebuilt, they sacrificed.
And while we didn't really go through chapter four and some others, when some of the builders come and they wanna help, they say no. It doesn't, it still doesn't work. Now, one other note some of the people who lived at this time and lived in the area were Israelites who never left. So when the, Asyrians and the Babylonians come through, they don't take every single person, but they take usually the rich people and the people with skills.
Crafts, craftsmen and tradesmen and people like that. But a lot of people end up still living there. The people that were left over, still lived there and had families. Some of them had intermarried with Canaanites and other people. However some of them had not. And one of the groups is this kind of blended or mixed group is called the Samaritans.
Samaria was the capital of Israel, the Northern so of Jerusalem and south and Samaria in the north. And if you lived in the north, you were called a Samaritan and the Samaritans again are blended. Now in their own mind, they're not, they're like we've been keeping the covenants and you guys are the newcomers and they say, Hey, we wanna help build the temple.
But Zerubbabel his people are like no, you're not holy enough. You're different than us. You have corrupted the laws. You're not right now, this is an interesting question. Do we ever have that in our own lives? Do we say no you're different than us? It could they have welcomed the Samaritans or were the Samaritans really pretty bad?
We don't know. We don't know the answer, but the Samaritans are the same guys you're gonna find a few hundred years later that end up being enemies of the Jews that Jesus goes and visits. You know the story of the good Samaritan and the Samaritan woman by the well, because they are enemies and they start to practice separately.
But at one point they were brothers and they used to work together. So in the story of the first part of Ezra, one through six, you're gonna see again, the same thing. What happens when a leader brings in and tries to restore covenant faithfulness in this case, Zerubbabel by bringing temple worship and maybe has some opposition, not only from people outside from the nation states, but from Samaritans themselves and the people that live there.
And it doesn't go exactly as plan. So while they do build a temple that it's not as glorious and the presence of the Lord never comes from what we can hear. A failure. That's part one. Now we spend a lot of time on that and I'm not gonna go as far into the next two stories, but you're gonna find they have that same parallel.
The next part is section the second half of Ezra. And that's when we're gonna meet Ezra himself. Now Ezra's a little bit different. Ezra is a scribe. He is a Bible nerd and he's one that helps understand the scripture. So when he comes, he's gonna restore something different. If the Temple's already been restored, then what is
ezra Ezra is the same name by the way, as Ez-er which is the same word that means to help it's the verb to help. It's the word that you find with Eve? She is an ezer she is a helper. So that's cool. Or if you hear about Jacob, remember he has an ebenezer a stone of helping when Joe Jacob has a dream, he puts his head on a stone and then he anoints it.
It's a little temple site. He calls it a helper stone. So it's his Ebenezer. So Ezra is the same name. It's the same verb as ezer to help in Hebrew. So we're gonna go, Hey, we're gonna name a guy to help and he's gonna come and what's he gonna help? When he comes to restore things again, he's Bible nerd.
So what does he. Bible practice. So he's gonna say, Hey, we need to obey the law. So you're gonna hear the term law used a lot, and you can replace that with scripture. So they're gonna say, I want people to go back to living scripture, like the core basic beliefs. One of the beliefs was we got overrun and sacked by all these nations because we were not living up to our covenants.
We weren't living according to the law. And according to scripture, the statute and ordinances that we had, then Ezra wasn't wrong. So he brings that. So the first group member of. They're building the temple. Ezra's going to bring back and say, Hey, we need to really live up to these laws. Now, when Ezra comes the people have some mixed reviews.
They're like, Hey, we need to really be more righteous. And one of the things that he brings in is says, you know what? I've noticed that some of you guys are living mixed marriages that's bad. And so we need to be So he says you are princes of Israel. These aren't just average people, but you guys, and you've mixed and so that's wrong.
And that should raise a little concern. There is no law against having a mixed marriage in ancient Israel. In fact, some of the families that we of our most. Important patriarchs and martriarchs are mixed marriages. So you're like this is a little bit strange. So you're like, he's enforcing a divorce on these people.
Now something do by the way. And they're women and children are kicked out. So you're like, this is super strange Ezra, what are you doing? But can you think of some examples of marriages in the old Testament that. interfaith marriages as we call them. So interfaith. So you'd be like Abraham and Hagar, right?
Hagar is Egyptian and that's his one of his other wives Hagar. So we have Abraham himself is married. So Sarah is Israelite, but Hagar is not. So then Ishamael so interesting right. Outta the gate, but we also seen things like even Joseph and Aseneth so Joseph of Egypt, he marries an Egyptian any.
Moses Mary Zipporah she is not in Israelite, right? She is a Midianite. So they may be close kin and part of the Abrahamic family, but they're not Israelite at all. So you're like, Hey, Moses is in a mixed marriage. How about in Jesus' family line, any mixed marriages? We just read the story of Ruth and Boaz and remember Ruth is a Moabite.
And so she is also from the family of Abraham, but not an Israelite. And she's going to be the great grandmother of David King, David is the line of Christ himself. So there are a lot of mixed marriages. And just because you're from a different tribe or non- Israelite tribe doesn't mean you can't be there.
So this should be like whoa is as we're going outta control and it does seem odd. But again, sometimes maybe we overstep where we say, Hey, I want to Institute something good. And I wanna do something by really reinforcing a law. I'm gonna give you an application and see if you don't see it.
Have you ever been in a meeting at church where people have add-ons we call them add-ons so it's the idea, like tithing's good. So we should pay more. Okay. Nobody does that one, but you've probably seen it, if we're going to go to church, we should go to church a lot. If we're going to pass the sacrament, we should all, wear white shirts only and polish our shoes together and hold our hands behind our backs.
And some of those things, those are add-ons they're not really prescribed in the law, but sometimes we make them add-ons to what's there. I'm sure I've offended somebody with that comment, but Ezra's doing an addon here where he's taking what the law is, the prescription of the law, and he's adding onto it and it might not be with great result.
So when Ezra does say Hey, that we should divorce all of our non Israelite wives Then some people leave. So he faces some opposition and maybe he should have, so again, in this second story of, we had Zerubbabel about at the temple, no presence of the Lord. And then we have Ezra he's leading them and he's giving them good scripture study.
And yet he's Hey, let's divorce. All of our mixed marriages. Also maybe a failure now we're gonna hit the third group. And that is where we meet Nehemiah. Nehemiah is more of a project manager. He's not a Bible nerd and he's not trying to reinstitute the Bible, but he's gonna try to build the wall that's around Jerusalem.
Remember they're constantly being attacked by all these nations. So he's gonna be this project manager. and he's gonna say, let's build the wall. So in Nehemiah one and two, he's gonna reach out to a different king Arxerxes and he is gonna say, cuz per Cyrus of Persia is gone. So we're in a different guy, but he is gonna say, Hey, I need a building rule so I can go back.
And not only do they do it, but he helps fund it. So he says, yep, go build the wall. Nehemiah gets the project manager. He gets they're going to go out and build the wall. . Now there's some people that are gonna oppose it odd, oddly enough, but one guy's name, Sanballat and the other is Tobiah, and this is in no Nehemiah two through six, and they're gonnas.
They're gonna oppose building this wall. And Nehemiahah comes up with a plan. So remember the pattern a guy comes up, they're gonna have opposition and he has a plan. Nehemiah's plan is we're gonna arm the guy's building. So they're gonna protect the builders and they're gonna go out and do the building.
Now at the end, Nehemiah is going to reject any again, local help. I was gonna say, get out, we don't need your help. But also when Nehemiah goes around and tours, the city, he sees some things going on that he doesn't like. And one of those is while they build the wall, they're starting to not obey the Sabbath.
So they're not only building the wall, but they're using it to build markets. So on the, around the edges, they're building a market. And then selling and trading on the Sabbath. So Nehemiah gets here and is Hey, even after I did all these things, there's failure. So we, while we rush through the Nehemiah story, you'll see that all three of these leaders, Zerubbabel and Ezra Nehemiah they each have opposition to one of their plans, build the temple reinstitute the law and covenant
or build the city wall. They all fail. They don't all have success. And so this is where you're like, Lori, that's super weird scripture. Why is that there? And I think, again, we learned that sometimes God's plan is different than we had. And even though we do everything we can do, it might not work out like we expected.
And yet, sometimes it might be part of the plan. The scattering of Israel was a way to to bring. The gospel to all nations. And then the gathering is an opportunity to bring everyone back together. So the blessings of Abraham and the Abraham at covenant are spread throughout the whole world. We also see that the people are learning that you're like, just because you do an effort with the Lord, we need to change something else.
And here's gonna be one of the big keys that we're gonna learn, and we're gonna learn it through some of the other Prophets as well. Jeremiah and Ezekiel, the changes that are required aren't just outward actions. Build the temple, build a wall, or do a bunch of scripture study. Those are important and they needed to be there, but the change that the people needed to make wasn't on the outside with observance, Torah worship, or a Torah practice or worship, it needed to be inside.
Christ is gonna call it being born again. Ezekiel and Jeremiah are gonna say, we need a change of heart. So we need to change our heart with a new covenant. That's gonna change us from the inside. So Christ is gonna bring the new covenant, something that we say I wanna change from within. And that's gonna be the change that all of us need to do.
So when we look at the story of Ezra Nehemiah, they're not all bad. Things are pretty good and they give us some leadership and some. They show us that sometimes the plans that we have are not exactly the plans that the Lord makes, but we also see that the change that we need to make in a community, in our family, in our ward, or even just as ourselves as leaders needs to come from within that, we need to have the Lord's spirit with us to change us and change our hearts.
When we fully give over to the spirit. And we are born again in Christ. We become new creatures. And as we do that, we can become the people that could have done all these things. Temple worship is great and we should be participating living up to this, our covenants, absolutely reading scripture, great protecting ourselves and understanding.
Self-reliance like Nehemiah, great lesson. All of things are great when we do the other part too, when we change our hearts and give those to Christ and become a new person in the spirit, become sanctified and holy then we're able to really make the lasting change that needs to be made. All right. That is the story of Ezra
and Nehemiahah. Now, if you have any questions, be sure and put them down in the comments below and call out if I've missed anything else. Now, we had a question at the beginning, if you knew Ezra, Nehemiah and now you do, but is there ever a time when you've failed? See if you can learn from any of these stories of a time when you tried really hard and something failed, even at your best effort, if you can apply any of the themes that we've learned today.
All right. Thanks again. That's it. Everybody. See you next time.