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Rebuild the Altar

Rebuilding with Ezra  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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When the exiles rebuilt the temple of God in Jerusalem, they started working on the Altar. Why did they rebuilt the Altar first? What is so important about the Altar? What is the purpose of the Altar? In the conclusion of our series on the book of Ezra, we see the Israelites prioritized the Altar because it is only through sacrifice & offerings that they can come into relationship with God. The Altar is where we lay our sacrifice, we give our offerings, and we celebrate in His presence. We no longer do those rituals because Jesus already did the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus is our Altar. And to rebuild the Altar. We must Bring our Sacrifice, Give our Offerings and Celebrate in His Presence.

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Opening

There was a preacher who fell in the ocean and he couldn't swim. When a boat came by, the captain yelled, "Do you need help, sir?" The preacher calmly said "No, God will save me."
A little later, another boat came by and a fisherman asked, "Hey, do you need help?" The preacher replied again, "No God will save me."
Eventually the preacher drowned & went to heaven. The preacher asked God, "Why didn't you save me?" God replied, "Fool, I sent you two boats!"
Tap the person on your right and say… “You need God’s help!”
Today we will conclude our series on Ezra we titled, “Rebuilding with Ezra”
From the book of Ezra we learned time honored and tested principles on “rebuilding”
Whenever we speak of “rebuilding, it covers a whole lot of things
It could be physically rebuilding the church
It could be spiritually rebuilding the body of Christ
Or, it could be rebuilding our lives for Jesus
BREATHE!
At the beginning of this series, we saw the Israelites embarked towards living a new life
In Babylon where they lived as slaves, they were influenced to honor pagan gods
They were naturalized to live a sinful culture
Babylonian traditions was imposed upon them during their 70 years in captivity
And so when God finally fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah, that at the end of 70 years, the Israelites will be liberated and the exiles will return to Jerusalem
God used 3 pagan kings, Cyrus, Artaxerxes and Darius to fulfill this promise
And so when King Cyrus permitted the exiles to return to Jerusalem, they were all looking forward to live a new life
They “Embarked to Live a New Life”
BREATHE!
As they prepare for their journey to return to their homeland in Jerusalem
Among the very first thing that they have done was to give their freewill offerings
They know that to rebuild the temple of God, the magnitude of the works will need huge amount of money
Though the kings of Babylon decreed to use resources from the royal treasury to fund the rebuilding of the temple
The Israelites willingly gave their offerings for the purpose
Because they know, that “Rebuilding Needs Giving”
BREATHE!
All of these took place because they are the plans and will of the Lord
To fulfill these plans and will of the Lord, God changed the attitude of the Babylonian kings
God changed the way they think, that they did not just allowed the exiles to return home to Jerusalem
They also supported the rebuilding of the Lord’s temple
So if God can change the way how pagan kings think
All the more that God can “Reform the Way we Think”
As Christians, our morals are different, and the way we think should be different as well
BREATHE!
Scouring through the pages of book of Ezra
It is very noticeable that the rebuilding of the temple actually started in the Altar
Why did they rebuilt the Altar first?
What is so important about the Altar?
What is the purpose of the Altar?
The Altar is not a stage of entertainment
The Altar is a platform of God’s grace and mercy
The Altar is where we “sacrifice” and “celebrate”
Read with me some Parts of
BREATHE!

Text: & 4 Rebuild the Altar

Ezra 3:2
Ezra 3:2 NIV
Then Joshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God.
Ezra 3:4 NIV
Then in accordance with what is written, they celebrated the Festival of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day.
Keywords from these passages are: “to build the Altar”, “to sacrifice” , “they celebrated” and “Offerings” (show photo of Bible)
BREATHE!
Let me show you some visuals to generate a clearer perspective of what we are talking about here
This is what ancient Altars looks like (show photo ancient Altars)
From since the time of our patriarchs, they set up Altars
When the people of God wandered the wilderness for 40 years, they had mobile Altars (show photo of the Tabernacle)
Until the first temple was built by Solomon, the son of David in 957 BC (shot photo of Solomon’s Temple)
But this temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC, and the Israelites were exiled to Babylon
After 70 years of captivity, God used pagan kings Cyrus, Artaxerxes and Darius to permit the exiles to return to Jerusalem
And they rebuilt the temple, starting with the Altar (show Herod’s temple)
This temple rebuilt by the exiles from Babylon stood for about 500 years and suffered natural decay and assaults from hostile armies
When Herod became the king of Judea, he wanted to gain the favor of the Jews and he offered to renovate the temple
His offer was accepted by the Jews, so they rebuilt it to a more larger temple (show photo of Herod’s second temple)
By 34 BC, under King Herod’s rule, ancient Jerusalem went through major redevelopment (show photo of Jerusalem)
BREATHE!
A number of things that we can find similar from the tabernacle in the time of our forefathers, all the way to the temple built by Solomon, rebuilt by the exiles from Babylon, and renovated by Herod are:
The Holy of Hollies are kept inaccessible from the people (Ark of the Covenant)
They had veil that separates the Holy of Hollies
Lampstand
They all had Altars where they placed their sacrifice (old testament believers was taught that the only way into relationship with God is through sacrifices)
The existence of Altar
Why don’t we do sacrifices at the Altar now?
Hebrews chapters 9 & 10 will clearly answer that
During the early days in the history of mankind, the people offered animals such as lambs as their sacrifice offering
There are various kinds of sacrifice/offerings, and for now, let me just give you five
Burnt Offering - The purpose of Burnt Offering was for general atonement of sin and expression of devotion to God
Grain Offering - The purpose of the Grain Offering was a voluntary expression of devotion to God, recognizing His goodness and providence
Peace Offering - The purpose of the Peace Offering was to consecrate a meal between two or more parties before God and share that meal together in fellowship of peace and a commitment to each others’ future prosperity
Sin Offering - The primary purpose of this offering is not to atone for sins but rather to purify oneself for re-entering the presence of God
Guilt Offering - The purpose of this offering was to make reparations for one’s sin
However, these sacrifices/offerings are inadequate, that’s why Jesus, the only Son of God, came to earth as our ultimate sacrifice
Hebrews 9:28 NIV
so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Hebrews 10:10 NIV
And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
BREATHE!
Today is what is known to be the “Palm Sunday”
It is the day when the Lord Jesus entered Jerusalem and hailed as the King and Saviour of the Jews (Matthew 21)
The people “celebrated” His arrival in Jerusalem, not realizing that this day in history marks the beginning of His ultimate act of “sacrifice”
On that day, another prophecy of Zechariah some 500 years before () was fulfilled
Jesus entered Jerusalem in a very lowly manner and humble fashion, He was riding a donkey
A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road
While others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road as Jesus enters the city on a donkey
And they were all shouting… Hosanna! Hosanna!
Hosanna is a Hebrew expression that means, “help us” or “save us”
As the Lord Jesus entered Jerusalem, People were celebrating
Even to this day, still a lot of people are yet to know Jesus
And so, the crowd answered them.. “this is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Not knowing that it is the week when Jesus will fulfill the ultimate and greatest sacrifice
In the same way, we being not just part of the crowd, but part of the church, must witness for Christ
BREATHE!
GOD THE REBUILDER
Three men are hiking and they come upon a large raging river. They need to get to the other side, but they don’t know how. The first man says, "God, give me the strength to cross this river."
Poof! God gives him big arms and strong legs, and he swims across the raging river. It takes him two hours, but he makes it.
Seeing this, the second man prays, "God, give me the strength . . . and the TOOLS . . . to cross this river."
Poof! God gives him a rowboat, and he rows across the raging river. It takes him 90 minutes, but he makes it.
Seeing this, the third man says, "God, give me the strength and the tools and the wisdom . . . to cross this river."
And poof! God turns him into a woman. She looks at the map, hikes upstream for 50 yards, and then walks across the bridge!
My friends, we believe in a God who gives us the strength and the tools and the wisdom to overcome obstacles. Even though some of us are guys! We believe in a God who does awesome things through ordinary men AND women! We believe in a God who wants to help!
And yet so many of us are trying to live without His help.
And yet so many of us are trying to live without His help.
BREATHE!

To Rebuild the Altar I Must...

So today is a day of Celebration & Sacrifices
And only Jesus can give us both
So if the purpose of the Altar is to celebrate and sacrifice

Jesus is our Altar

The Altar is Where we Sacrifice & Celebrate

Bring my Sacrifice

1 Peter 2:4–5 NCV
Come to the Lord Jesus, the “stone” that lives. The people of the world did not want this stone, but he was the stone God chose, and he was precious. You also are like living stones, so let yourselves be used to build a spiritual temple—to be holy priests who offer spiritual sacrifices to God. He will accept those sacrifices through Jesus Christ.
Peter emphasized the worth of Jesus in God’s eyes despite the world’s rejection of Him
As we rebuild the temple, Jesus must be the cornerstone
And as living stones, we must let ourselves be used to build a spiritual temple
He draws on two OT passages to emphasize Christ’s worth in God’s
There are many ways how we can be used to rebuild the Altar, all we need to do is make ourselves available for it
God uses not those who are capable, God uses those who are available

Give my Offerings

Luke 21:1–4 CEV
Jesus looked up and saw some rich people tossing their gifts into the offering box. He also saw a poor widow putting in two pennies. And he said, “I tell you that this poor woman has put in more than all the others. Everyone else gave what they didn’t need. But she is very poor and gave everything she had.”
How many of us here has this poor widow’s giving heart?
See, offering to God is not what you give, but it’s how you give it

Celebrate in His Presence

There are various kinds of sacrifice/offerings, and for now, let me just give you five
Burnt Offering - The purpose of Burnt Offering was for general atonement of sin and expression of devotion to God
Grain Offering - The purpose of the Grain Offering was a voluntary expression of devotion to God, recognizing His goodness and providence
Peace Offering - The purpose of the Peace Offering was to consecrate a meal between two or more parties before God and share that meal together in fellowship of peace and a commitment to each others’ future prosperity
Sin Offering - The primary purpose of this offering is not to atone for sins but rather to purify oneself for re-entering the presence of God
Guilt Offering - The purpose of this offering was to make reparations for one’s sin
BREATHE!
Matthew 25:23 NLT
“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
However, these sacrifices/offerings are inadequate, that’s why Jesus, the only Son of God, came to earth as our ultimate sacrifice
In one of Lord’s teachings, He used the parable of the three servant to teach His disciples some lessons on stewardship
Hebrews 9:28 NIV
so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Looking at this teaching from a different angle, one may ask himself… “am I happy serving the Lord?”
Is it not a drag whenever the Pastor will tell me do something for the church?
Jesus Christ is referred to as the “Lamb of God”
Am I willing to grow or increase my responsibilities in the church?
This symbol points to Christ being a perfect sacrifice
Serving God should be fun
It also conveys his meekness and his willingness to submit to suffering of death
And the fruits of our labor shall be the great cause of celebration in His presence
In another prophecy of Isaiah fulfilled in the life and sacrifices of the Lord Jesus, he said
Isaiah 53:7 NIV
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

Christ is the Cause of our Celebration

Even to this day, still a lot of people are yet to know Jesus
And so, the crowd answered them.. “this is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
In the same way, we being not just part of the crowd, but part of the church, must witness for Christ
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