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Rebuilding, a lesson from Ezra

In Ezra 3:7-13 the people of God go back to the future. After exile, and after returning to the land they rebuild the temple.

Before the end of this year, it's plausible that we, as church families, will go back to the future.

We will have the opportunity to return and rebuild our gatherings and life together as local churches.

What can we learn from Ezra 3?  

It’ll be the same but different

The people of God rebuild God’s temple. It’s the same. It’s God’s temple. He’s the same God being worshiped in the same way, but it’s different. The dimensions are different, what’s in it is different, the people are different.

As we begin to think about a time when we will be back together, it will be in the same place, but it will be different.

The way we gather on Sundays may be different, some may continue meeting entirely as house churches, some churches may have the bulk of people meeting together at the building but with a number of house churches continuing, maybe others will meet in our buildings, in house churches, and online all at the same time.

However we meet, we’ll be different. 

The responses will be mixed

At the laying of the foundation of this temple, the people who had seen the old temple wept, while others celebrated.

The same response will happen in this coming season. As we go back to the future some will be delighted, and some will be distraught.

Normal wasn’t always healthy

Underlying the rebuilding of this temple was the reality of what was considered ‘normal’; a beautiful temple at the heart of a significant nation wasn’t healthy. It was instead a hotbed of idolatry and sin.

People looking to rush back to ‘normal’ must realise that the 'normal' way we’ve done church over the last 30 years has created fractures in the Church, now exposed by the pandemic. 

Fractures that have led people to leave the Church in anger. 
Fractures that reflect political dividing lines. 
Fractures that have led people to leave the Church in apathy. 

If COVID has taught us anything about the way we’ve been doing church, it is that 'normal' doesn't always mean healthy. 

He is worthy of our worship

After their rebuild, the returned exiles joyfully gave thanks. But soon they forgot God, ignored his Word, and failed to see and honour him as they should (Neh. 13).

In the challenges of rebuilding a society and the centre of worship, the people of God should remember that he alone is worthy of our worship.

As we begin thinking about going back to the future, and being together, as we think about the challenges we’ll face in doing so, may we not get caught up in our own efforts, programs, ways of doing things. But remember, God is worthy of our worship.

Let us use the opportunity ahead to return to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, as we remember the goodness of the God we adore.  

We will praise him, we’ll give thanks to him, and we’ll worship him.


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