Rebuilding God's Temple

Ezra 1-6

Have you ever spent a long time building or rebuilding something only to have it knocked down by someone else? How does it make you feel when you've worked on a two story Lincoln Log house for hours,as you're putting the final touches on it your little sister comes along,touches it and CRASH! It all comes tumbling to the ground. Working on fragile building projects takes alot of patience and motivation to see the finished project done. But when you are working in a 'kid zone' at any time someone could accidentally or purposefully knock down what has taken you hours to complete. Sometimes you have to ask yourself if rebuilding is worth it.

God's people felt the same way. You see, ever since Nebuchadnezzer had taken the Jewish people captive, they longed to return to Jerusalem. In fact, they were so sad to have left their homeland, they made it a practice to turn their bodies towards Jerusalem three times a day to pray to God. While they prayed, they wept and cried over the destruction of the beautiful Holy City they had lived in which had been demolished. God's people wanted to be able to worship God in his beautiful temple again and walk in a rebuilt Holy City. As many long years passed, the people began to wonder if God had even heard their prayers because nothing happened. But day King Cyrus of Persia announced to everyone a new decree saying that "The Lord God of Heaven told me to build him a temple in Jerusalem". This was an amazing miracle because King Cyrus worshiped many God's but told the people he knew without a doubt that he had heard God's voice.(This was the one true God who had spoken to him.) So, he gave permission for some of the Jewish families to travel to Jerusalem to begin the work of rebuilding. Even though the people were excited to get started, they soon found out that a new group of people living around the remains of the temple didn't want them to rebuild. They made it very difficult for them and tried to stop them from rebuilding. God's people tried to rebuild for many years and new Kings came and went. His people faced such opposition that they became tired and even fearful of the people who tore down what they had tried to rebuild.

However, the current Kind of Persia, King Artaxerxes, had a cupbearer named Nehemiah. (This was the guy who was in charge of filling the King's royal cup). Even though Nehemiah lived far from the destroyed temple, he had gotten a message from his relatives that each time they tried to rebuild the temple, the people living around it would tear it back down again. This made Nehemiah very sad. Nehemiah had a good paying job and was a highly respected man but he couldn't get this news off his mind and couldn't turn his back on his people and homeland. Nehemiah began praying and fasting for God to hear his prayers and help his people. Nehemiah was so upset that he wept and cried during his prayers and fast and begged God to forgive his sins and the sins of his people. He also asked God to grant him favor with his master, King Artaxerxes. After spending alot of time in prayer and fasting, Nehemiah approached the King in a sad mood.(Which was considered a very dangerous thing to do in front of a King). When the King asked Nehemiah what was wrong, he told him he "couldn't be happy knowing the city of his ancestors was destroyed". The King then asked Nehemiah "what can I do to help you?" Nehemiah silently prayed to God again asking for his favor and told the King he would like his permission to leave the palace and rebuild the city. Amazingly, not only did King Artaxerxes give him permission to go but he also sent him with many supplies for rebuilding the city and hand-signed letters from himself commanding those living around the destroyed temple to make way for Nehemiah. Wow, that's the power of God working for you!! The King's letters helped persuade God's people to start rebuilding again.(They had stopped trying because they felt hopeless and tired.) With Nehemiah's lead, he encouraged his people to keep building and praying even though there were people mocking them and spreading lies about them. Within two months, God's people succeeded in building walls around the city to keep out those who were destroying the building process. Although the rebuilding process was long and hard another great man, Ezra, helped God's people to relearn God's ways. But that's another story!

Sometimes we feel like giving up because we keep rebuilding only to see our work torn down. But if we remember to pray to God for guidance and strength we can do anything through Christ Jesus. Sometimes we even feel like the work we've done is in vain because we've spent days, months and even years working on it and nobody notices or rewards us for it. But God sees everything and he will reward us in due time. Have you ever had someone like Nehemiah come in and help you after you've faced a really hard challenge? God is good and if we keep praying and focusing on Him, He will send a Nehemiah into our lives to help get us over our hurdles. Just when you are ready to give up, if you pray/fast and seek Him, God will provide someone to help you rebuild your life. Just ask and see!

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