Faithlife Sermons

Ezra Pt 5: Gathered As One

Ezra 3:1–2 KJV 1900
1 And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. 2 Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.
Rodney King is well-known for his involvement in a police brutality case in 1991, when, after a high speed chase, four Los Angeles Police Officers where filmed striking King with their batons. The four officers were later tried and the jury found them not guilty. The verdict ignited several riots in Los Angeles in April 1992 with over fifty deaths and thousands injured. King made a now famous speech during the riots, starting off by saying, “People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?”.
The words of King are similar to the cry of ecumenicalism, the movement to have all Christians come together why can’t we all get along. The word ecumenism is derived from the Greek word oikoumene, which means "the whole inhabited world", and it was historically used with specific reference to the Roman Empire.
The World Council of Churches, the public platform for ecumenicalism, uses the greek word oikoumene on its logo, describing itself as,
“a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures, and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.
The basic premise of this call to unity seems on the surface to be a fair one.
I mean doesn’t God want his people to be unified? He surely does, but it has to unity on God’s terms and not ours!
And in Ezra chapter 3, we find unity on display, as the people Gather themselves together as one man to Jerusalem!
But this unity must be explored to help us see the application for the Church today and I believe there is one.
Firstly I want you to notice they were unified in direction
Unified in Direction v1 “to Jersalem”
Ezra 3:1 KJV 1900
1 And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.
to Jerusalem
why is this important?
Because if we look back into Israel’s history we see that the kingdom was divided after the death of Solomon
After Solomon's death, the nation of Israel divided into two kingdoms.
In the Southern Kingdom, also called Judah, there were only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, plus a faithful remnant that came from other tribes.
The Northern Kingdom or Israel was made up of ten tribes, and Jeroboam served as its first king, ruling for twenty-two years.
His reign brought immediate moral and religious corruption into Israel
Jeroboam legacy long outlived him and as we often read this report of later kings who followed in the steps of Jeroboam
1 Kings 15:34 KJV 1900
34 And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.
One of the first things that Jeroboam did was to set up a new worship system
1 Kings 12:26–33 KJV 1900
26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: 27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. 28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 29 And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other put he in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. 31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi. 32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Beth-el, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Beth-el the priests of the high places which he had made. 33 So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Beth-el the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.
Jeroboams worship system
was convient
didnt have to travel to Jerusalem
was appealing
not much effort invloved - consumer friendly
was inclusive
anybody could be a priest
It was the worship of Jehovah conforemed to worldy standards and practices
The instruction given in leviticus given by God where ripped up and through out for a new set of worhsip practices and guidelines
Iluustration - and isnt that what many do today? Bablon Bee - Perferated Bible
We believe and Hold and stand upon the Verbal plenary inspirtaion of the Bible
That is that we hold to the full counsel of Gods word
and dont just pick and choose what we want to believe
So, for 100’s of years the worship system had been divided
now they where gather together as one man
unified in the direction “to Jeruslam”
Transition - secondly then, they where unified in Desire
Unified in Desire v2a “builded the altar of the God of Israel”
Ezra 3:2 KJV 1900
2 Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.
Build the altar of the God of Israel at Jerusalem
important becuase that hadnt always been the case
there were many altars built in Israel over the years prior to the captivity
Some built to worship false Gods
Jeremiah 32:35 KJV 1900
35 And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.
But many where built to worship the God of Israel - Jehovah
Now that doesnt seem that bad at first glance
But the God of Israel had commanded worship to take place His way in His place
Deuteronomy 12:1–5 KJV 1900
1 These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the Lord God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth. 2 Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: 3 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. 4 Ye shall not do so unto the Lord your God. 5 But unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:
Deuteronomy 12:11 KJV 1900
11 Then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord:
Deuteronomy 12:14 KJV 1900
14 But in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.
Deuteronomy 12:18 KJV 1900
18 But thou must eat them before the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.
Deuteronomy 12:21 KJV 1900
21 If the place which the Lord thy God hath chosen to put his name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the Lord hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.
Deuteronomy 12:26 KJV 1900
26 Only thy holy things which thou hast, and thy vows, thou shalt take, and go unto the place which the Lord shall choose:
Psalm 78:67–68 KJV 1900
67 Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, And chose not the tribe of Ephraim: 68 But chose the tribe of Judah, The mount Zion which he loved.
1 Kings 14:21 KJV 1900
21 And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah an Ammonitess.
King Hezikiah, the Greatest King Judah had, responded to the Word of God and destroyed the multiple worship sites
2 Chronicles 32:12 KJV 1900
12 Hath not the same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall worship before one altar, and burn incense upon it?
so they wanted to worship God
and that is indeed a honourable desire
but remember worship has to be God’s way
and the captivity had achieved the unitity of desire in the people to worship God, His way
worship of false Gods had been purged from the nation as they returned back to God designated place of worship
Application for us
as we prepare for our return are we prepared to worship God His way?
The people where unified in direction, they where unified in desire, and finally and most importantly, they where unified in Doctrine
Unified in Doctrine v2b “as it is written in the law of Moses”
Ezra 3:2 KJV 1900
2 Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.
Doctrine is the key to it all
Doctrine must come first, with fellowship following second, notice that formula in Acts 2:42
Acts 2:42 KJV 1900
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Acts 2:46 KJV 1900
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
The proponent of ecumenicalism will respond, to the naysayers, that God’s people are all one, and that commonality overrides the differences. They will point to parts of Jesus’s high priestly prayer in John 17
John 17:20–21 KJV 1900
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
We have to understand that this prayer is in the context of verse 17
John 17:17 KJV 1900
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
"To remain divided is sinful! Did not our Lord pray, that they may be one, even as we are one"? (John 17:22). A chorus of ecumenical voices keep harping the unity tune. What they are saying is, "Christians of all doctrinal shades and beliefs must come together in one visible organization, regardless... Unite, unite!"  Such teaching is false, reckless and dangerous. Truth alone must determine our alignments. Truth comes before unity.  Unity without truth is hazardous. Our Lord's prayer in John 1 must be read in its full context. Look at verse 17: "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth." Only those sanctified through the Word can be one in Christ. To teach otherwise is to betray the Gospel.  - Charles H. Spurgeon, The Essence of Separation,
the truth is the all important factor, and its not our subjective truth, its God’s absolute truth found in His Holy, inerrant, infallable, inspried word
Jesus when dealing with woman of samaria in john chapter 4, deals with this.
The Samaritans were half-Jew, half-Gentile. The race came about after the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C. Certain people from the nation of Israel stayed behind. These people intermarried with the Assyrians producing the Samaritans.
The Samaritans had their own temple, their own copy of the Torah - the first five books of the Old Testament - and their own religious system
notice the language Jesus uses when dealing with her
John 4:19–24 KJV 1900
19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
notice the imperatives - must
Jesus prophesying about the Church age to come
we must worship in spirit
that is we must be born again
John 3:3 KJV 1900
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
we must worship in truth
It has to be worship Gods way
one must acknowledge that truth divides, it always has and it always will, and the only absolute truth we have is the word of God.
we too, Just as israel where at the time of ezra, be unified in our doctrine.
The question Rodney King asked was “Can we all just get along?” The answer from the ecumenist is a resounding yes, the answer from the word of God is a clear authoritative no.
Take for example the words of Romans 16:17
Romans 16:17 KJV 1900
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
We are chartered by scripture to separate over doctrine, if it differs from that which was recorded in scripture and held to be the early Church.
"Never sacrifice the future on the altar of the immediate. What is gained by compromise to truth will fizzle and fall, but the Word of God shall stand for ever. (See Psalm 119:89)
True biblical worship so satisfies our total personality that we don't have to shop around for man-made substitutes. William Temple made this clear in his masterful definition of worship:
For worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose -- and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin. - Warren W. Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991, p. 119.
Just like the remnant of Ezra Chapter 3,
we must be united in direction - turned towards God - Gathered as one man to our Jerusalem
we must be united in desire - to worship God as one
and most importantly we must be united in doctrine - to worhsip God His way, according to His word
and then, and only then, can we truley be untied as one. Gathered as one man to Jerusalem just like the remenat from Ezra Chapter 3.
May God Bless These Thoughts to Your Hearts
Let’s Pray
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