Saturday, December 6, 2014

The work of Ezra compared to the work of Nehemiah.

Ezra rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, and established the government with a standing army. Both men returned to Israel to repair the nation from the cycle of servitude.

Judges presents the cycle of servitude. 1st there was prosperity. Then the people sinned by turning away from God to serve the idols of the nations around them. Then there came a invading army to plunder the nation and put them in servitude. Then the people called out to God and God sent a judge to deliver the people from the oppressor. Prosperity resulted and the lack of vision of the people cause the cycle of servitude to continue.

The cycle of life can be like the cycle of servitude in the book of Judges.

I was driving by a forested area when I started looking for an interesting tree, I took a photo of in March 2005,  but I didn't see it. So I got out to look for it.
But the tree was not to be seen. Walking into the woods I found it now on the ground. This photo was taken in November 2007.

The cycle of nature happens just as the cycle of servitude does. This cycle happens through out history. It takes extraordinary people to not follow this cycle. People of faith. People of commitment. People that realize the consequences of their actions and look at the long range picture. People committed to God and not just going with the flow. The work of Nehemiah would build the walls of faith into people.

The issue is not only to stay out of trouble. But to storm the gates of hell, rescuing people from the fire of hell. Then to rebuild into their lives and pave the way to give them a life in God as well. To teach them to stand on their own and be adult Christians.

This rebuilding in the Old Testament is called discipleship making in the New Testament. The walls are salvation and the willingness to carry the cross of Christ. John 3:16 and; Romans 12:1,2

Nehemiah's role was putting stability in the people, while Ezra's role was establish the temple and worship. A pastor is doing the work of Ezra and a discipler is doing the work of Nehemiah. Some pastors do both jobs. In my experience, there is not much going on with discipleship.

I see Nehemiah's work mostly neglected by the tyranny of time. Sunday morning is the time for Ezra and Monday through Friday is the days most people work and establish their purpose in life.

Ezra would be a type for a  preacher today. The  Levites, the servants of the temple, would be an Old Testament type for the support staff of the preacher. Nehemiah would be a type of the New Testament counselor/discipler/leader to the people today. So they can be solders, business men, workers for the kingdom of God.

Ezra taught people to worship and provided a place for them to express this worship and learning. Nehemiah built protection and carried weapons to repel the enemy.

In the present, people see the church building and participate with those events. But they don't see the weapons, spiritual war or walls today. Like the days of old they lose sight of their purpose and focus on what is right before them. This weakens their life and they fall because of a lack of protection in their life. Women are more inclined to do the work of Levites in the temple, (church staff). While men don't see that role as appealing and quit for nothing of value to do.

The work of Nehemiah is the prayer meeting and teaching people how to get their prayers answered and to walk in faith, and the resulting service of evangelism and outreach, service in the community that builds into their lives and other peoples lives.

Is there a position for the Nehemiah ministry? Yes but most of the work should be done outside the walls of the church building.

For further reading on rebuilding:
Isaiah 44:26
Isaiah 49:8
Isaiah 58:12
Isaiah 61:4
Ezekiel 36:10
Isaiah 30:13
Amos 9:11

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