February 3, 2023 at 12:07 pm #1445Amber ZachryParticipant
The book of Ezra begins with the decree of Cyrus, but it also begins with repetition. One glance back at 2 Chronicles 36: 22-23 gives us a preceding glimpse to the agenda behind the decree to rebuild the temple in Ezra 1:1. Interestingly, in the Hebrew canon, Ezra-Nehemiah precedes 1-2 Chronicles and one reason is likely because the Hebrew ordering is emphasizing the theology of these books over the chronology. From this perspective, the thematic emphasis of rebuilding the house of God would theologically take precedence over experiencing restoration in the temple that the book of Chronicles depicts. Rebuilding the temple precedes experiencing restoration as a people in that temple. We know this is not the chronological order and yet, what might be the significance in this?
I propose that perhaps it is the theological undercurrent of the rebuilding of the temple of God and its future restoration that we find throughout the Scriptures. Here in Ezra 1:1, there is an agenda and in Ezra 1:2, Cyrus gives sets forth in writing that he commissioned the rebuilding of a house at Jerusalem for the Lord, God of heaven. Immediately, there is something that might jump off the page in the usage of the word “house.” In this context, the word indicates not only a temple but also the city and people who inhabit it and come to worship there. This house embodies a family–the family of God; it is the rebuilding of a home where God will dwell with his people. Only now, a covenant member of the family of God does not just have the book of Chronicles from which to experience the glorious restoration of the family of God nor does one need to endure 400 years of silence following the people’s subsequent restorative failure to capture a theological picture of rebuilding and restoration. Why? Because the temple’s rebuilding and the people’s experience in restoration are met in a person: Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate embodiment of the temple. The very reality of the holy space that is the temple “tabernacled” among us (John 1:14).
Now, we look to Jesus Christ, the true temple of God and because I am united to Christ, I am also part of that dwelling place, that home for God by His Spirit (Eph. 2: 20-22) and together, we have been delegated the authority and responsibility of temple living as heirs. We collectively cohabit as a family of God this spiritual temple in our bodies, of which Christ is the cornerstone (Eph. 2:20). I am a member of the covenant family of God in a spiritual temple that consists of all the saints of the ages joined together by and In Christ.
So, what does this mean for me? I am called to honor the dwelling place of the living God (that is my body). I am reminded of what Paul says in 1 Cor. 3:16: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” Then follows the next logical conclusion that Peter exhorts us to as he points us back to Leviticus 19-20: “Be holy, as I am holy.” The beautiful picture here is that we now, by the mercies of God, present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship.
How do I do this? Grace. Every single action, every time that I throw up my hands in worship and gratitude, every time that I instruct and encourage others in this gospel of grace, every single time that I promote Christian wisdom and live a correspondent life by His grace, then I (we) take part in the building of this temple and promote its growth in all of its beauty, splendor, wisdom, and holiness. And the whole reason I or any of us are able to do this in the first place: through our reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ, His Son.
It is almost like the whole point of it all was to dwell amongst us in the first place. For so it goes: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God…” (Rev. 21:3-4).
And so we are God’s dwelling place. We are His family. We are continuously being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood (1 Pet. 2:4-5) even as we still look to the future of experiencing its reality when a holy people will witness the holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God…(Rev. 21:10). Ezra 1:1 points us to that consummation. And I dare say, we shall all stand amazed and in jaw-dropping worship at the beauty of the glory of His grace as we stand there knowing the truth of it all: …”it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Cor. 15:10).February 7, 2023 at 7:35 pm #1563Jane JohnsonKeymaster
Amber! I was traveling the latter part of last week through the weekend and just saw this! I’m standing up my kitchen table seat and applauding!! This is amazing!
“It is almost like the whole point of it all was to dwell amongst us in the first place.” Yes, absolutely! We see it all the back with Adam and Eve and the fact that they heard the sound of God walking in the garden in Genesis 3!
Dang girl, you nailed it!
xo!!February 7, 2023 at 11:50 pm #firstname.lastname@example.orgParticipant
Oh, I’m sooo going to enjoy this!
Thank you!February 11, 2023 at 3:10 pm #1578Gloria CrumeParticipant
WOW!–WOW!–WOW! The Lord and I have been working on this for the remainder of 2022, and I have been helping the young women I disciple grasp and apply. This is awesome, thank you.
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