Today we reach Ezra chapter 3 in our course through that whole little (divinely inspired) Book of History. At least the first three verses: “And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.” Again, this is Ezra 3:1-3.
More about the “seventh month” tomorrow. God had commanded three religious Observances that month alone. It is really the “high point” of Israel’s year!
We here have a conclave, a gathering of the people in the presence of the officiating priest of that day, Jeshua. And their governmental, civic leader, Zerubbabel. But he is never said to be King, by no means.
And look, the first order of worship … build an altar!
Blood sacrifice, returning to the “old ways” God had taught them all the way back to Moses, really all the way back to Adam I suspect!
” … they builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. And they set the altar upon his bases …”
Remember, the first piece of Furniture one faced when coming to both the Tabernacle and the Temple was such a ALTAR! No worship without bloodshed! No approaching God without sin being atoned!
But then, surprisingly, a line is added to our Text (by the Holy Spirit Himself) that is absolutely thrilling! Look, this is what I mean …
“And they set the altar upon his bases; FOR FEAR WAS UPON THEM BECAUSE OF THE PEOPLE OF THOSE COUNTRIES: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.”
Because of their neighbors!
What kind of neighbors?
Non-believers in the Lord God Almighty!
Enemies of Judah!
Haters of true worship!
Opponents with sabotage on their minds, destroying what the Jews were building. Or at least retarding their progress!
Yes, “And they set the altar upon his bases; FOR FEAR WAS UPON THEM BECAUSE OF THE PEOPLE OF THOSE COUNTRIES …”
Then they began regular, daily worship. ” … and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.”
The people of Judah so feared the adversaries all around them … that they felt they POSITIVELY MUST begin (properly) worshipping the Lord!
In other words, they apparently believed THE CLOSER THEY GOT TO GOD … consequently, THE MORE PROTECTION FROM HIS HAND THEY WOULD ENJOY!
That GOD would keep His Eye and His Hands and His Mind (for safety) upon His obedient, humble, blood-bringing people!
A fact that still carries freight … all these years later!
For example … “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his ENEMIES to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7
Or … “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
Or to such an obedient people God distinctly promised … “The LORD shall cause thine ENEMIES that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.” Deuteronomy 28:7
This is why I have titled today’s Lesson “ONE of the innumerable benefits” of worshipping God in spirit and in truth. That benefit being “safety!”
I will close with Proverbs 21:31 … “The horse is prepared against the day of battle: BUT SAFETY IS OF THE LORD.” Amen!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell
Are YOU “right” with God?
Oh yes … “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts.” James 4:8