Are you ready for miracles? How about plans within plans? What is G-d going to reveal to you…to all of us about rebuilding our temple after Covid exile as we read through these 56 days of scriptures together?
Time and space are going to fold as we simultaneously A) journey through a rich tapestry carefully crafted 2400 years ago, on a prayerful mission reliving the struggles and triumphs of that long-ago generation released from exile only to find their temple and their sense of community demolished, all the while as we B) live out our own struggles and triumphs through the same epic challenge before us today.
What did G-d do for them? What is He about to do for you and the leadership of your church?
His plan for rebuilding our temple after Covid exile is emerging, and the thrill is spreading like waves throughout our community. But it all starts with a simple…stirring?
Is that all it takes for our Lord of Armies to begin a campaign that will change lives forever?
First, let me ask you to think of how you want to approach our trek together. Do you read the chapter first and then this commentary, or the other way around? Find the groove that works best for you and consider praying before or after.
The Spirit is about to reveal, day after day, the threads of your own plan, woven carefully into a tapestry of your own that He has been preparing just for you and your temple for over a hundred years.
For today’s chapter, we see G-d started this remarkable odyssey by planning centuries ahead and selecting just the right leader/patron, announcing him even before he was born, and interestingly enough, even one that didn’t follow G-d. The Lord richly blessed him and stirred up his heart to lead the effort to rebuild the temple.
[Note: see the actual prophecies involved—Isaiah (740 – ~686 BC) 44:28 – 45:14 and Jeremiah (655 – 582 BC+) 25:11-12; fun to read along with reading Ezra 1]
Cyrus (pronounced ‘Kər-us or cure-us, who’da thunk it! – a pun in English) was prophesied by not only Jeremiah, but also by Isaiah – really cool stuff. He gave the following direction to kick off the rebuilding effort; does it apply to us today?
- There are to be two groups of people: workers and supporters. There is no third role mentioned of “kibitzing”, so everyone is either one or the other. This is a kibitzing-free zone! No one is allowed to just watch and not participate.
- Who were the workers? “Everyone” whose spirit G-d stirred. Is G-d stirring your spirit?
- Who were those who supported the effort? “All” of those around them.
- What did they give? Everything that was needed… in ADDITION to (aside from) voluntary offerings.
- Plus, the leader/patron restored everything that had been taken away. An inventory for a homecoming.
When G-d plans something for a century or longer, His excitement must be palpable! Can you imagine that about your own effort to rebuild after Covid exile? That G-d, the Lord who stretches out the universe…has been planning for what your church is about to do…and is excited about it!
Does that make you excited? He hopes so.
Big Take-Aways from Ezra 1
- Pray for our leader/patron that they, whoever they are, would be granted favor and ALL the material needs to make rebuilding possible. G-d doesn’t do anything halfway. G-d, Himself, will go before leveling the mountains, breaking down gates of bronze and cutting through bars of iron.
- We need to take an inventory of everything we lost during our exile. I believe we already have: we have an MIA list – people that have not returned to our church after Covid exile, as well as the growth we were experiencing before, which hasn’t returned.
- Pray for our Cyrus. G-d already knows who that is. Pray that the Lord stirs up his/her spirit.
- Set up a framework for both the workers and supporters – so that it’s easy for people to be one or the other, but make sure they know there is no 3rd option here. We all have to be dedicated to rebuilding.
- In order for us to have our inventory returned to us, and acknowledging that some people have moved away and can’t easily move back, perhaps we should consider a homecoming of sorts – an event to return all the inventory to the temple? Perhaps to coincide with the end of our initial outreach effort? Perhaps the Feast of Trumpets? What works best for your church?