Published July 11, 2013
Ezra 1:1-5; Neh. 8:1-6; Jer. 29:1-14
Bible Studies for Life, July 21
Restoration. Is it not wonderful news that when we fail that Godís single purpose in disciplining us is to bring us back into a right relationship with him? And is it not good that God loves us enough to correct us when we are wrong and that He does not kick us out of the family when we disobey?
Of course, God already demonstrated just how much He loves us when He sent His Son to die on the cross for us, and that is the basis for our restoration.
The promise of God - Jeremiah 29:10-14
Seventy years in captivity. In one respect, that seems to be a long time of judgment. But, the fact that there is a definite time illustrates that the judgment will come to an end. Psalm 30:5 says ďFor His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.Ē
Even in captivity, God still had His plan for His people. Even when we fail Him, God continues to fulfill His promises to us and His plan for us. 2 Timothy 2:13 states ďIf we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.Ē
Godís plan for us is to give us ďa future and a hope.Ē In the midst of a hopeless world, only believers in Jesus Christ have true hope and true peace, knowing that our future is secure in Christ.
Godís restoration not only includes our future but our present relationship with Him. When God restores His children, He also restores the lines of communication. When we seek solely after God with an undivided heart, we will find that He is waiting to have fellowship with us, ready to hear and answer our prayers.
One of our greatest mistakes as believers is that when we fail we run from God. Jesus Christ died on the cross to establish a relationship between us and our Heavenly Father.
Our failure does not negate the relationship. Rather, God desires that we come to Him in repentance so that He can restore us to usefulness in His Kingdom. We needlessly waste precious time when we run away from instead of to Him.
The return of Godís people - Ezra 1:1-5
In Proverbs 21:1, Solomon writes ďThe kingís heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.Ē The heart of Cryus, king of Persia, was in Godís hand after he conquered Babylon. God led Him to free the captives so they could return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple that was destroyed. He even declared that those who lived in the area would financially support this rebuilding project!
After 70 years, God reveals the next step in His plan for His people. Certainly after such a long time, they must have thought that God had forgotten them. But all along He had a plan to restore His remnant, in His time.
That is an encouragement for us. As we look at our world, we wonder how long before the Lord returns. How much more pain and suffering do His people have to endure? How many more will be martyred for their faith?
Evil seems to be on the increase every day, and yet He has not called us home. Take heart, Jesus will return in Godís perfect timing. Not a moment too soon, and not one second late.
The response of Godís people - Nehemiah 8:1-6
It is hard to imagine, but not all of those who were set free by the decree of Cyrus actually returned to Jerusalem. Like many Christians, they had grown comfortable living among the pagans. But those who did return began the process of rebuilding the temple, at least for a while.
Soon they became more concerned with building their own homes, an issue which was addressed by the prophet Haggai in chapter one of the book that bears his name. The temple was completed 70 years after the destruction of Solomonís temple, but over time the people allowed the surrounding walls to deteriorate.
Enter Nehemiah. God called him from Persia to unite the people and lead them in the task of rebuilding the wall. The task was accomplished in 52 days. A God-sized task was completed with Godís wisdom and power in Godís time.
To celebrate the completion of the building project, all of the people were gathered together to hear the reading of Godís law by Ezra. They all stood. They all stayed for six hours. They all listened. They all bowed down and worshipped the Lord.
One would think that Godís chosen people would have learned from the disobedience of their forefathers. But the cycle is given to us numerous times in Scripture. They obeyed and God blesses. They disobey and God sends a pagan nation to take them captive.
Then, Godís people cry out in repentance for deliverance, and God rescues them and blesses them once again. Why could they not just get it right the first time?
Sound familiar? Believers today seem to be trapped in the same fruitless cycle. Some days we get it right and enjoy the blessings of our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Then, sin gets attractive or we just get too self-reliant, and God allows us to fall flat on our spiritual faces.
You would think we would learn from the failures of those who have gone before us. We havenít, but God is ever faithful to restore and mature us through our own failures.
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