Over the past month we have been studying the book of Ezra which up until this point, has focused on the efforts of the Jewish remnant to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. It has been interesting to study a text named after a man that has yet to be introduced. Chronologically, Ezra arrives in Jerusalem 58 years after the temple has been completed, during the reign of King Artaxerxes. While the first six chapters of Ezra focus on the physical rebuilding of the temple and the first remnant of returning exiles, the second half of the book of Ezra focuses on a spiritual rebuilding, emphasizing a return to God’s law. Ezra is a highly regarded teacher of the Israelites in Babylon. The LORD calls him out of his comfortable life and commissions him to lead the second great migration of returning exiles and uses his gifts to restore the community to their moral center as God’s chosen people.
Leading in Reconstruction 1
June 27, 2021 • Pastor Chris Pappenfus • Ezra 7—10
August 8, 2021 • Pastor Chris Pappenfus • Nehemiah 8—10
In Nehemiah Chapters 8-10, we are given a glimpse into the spiritual rebuilding that Governor Nehemiah desired for his fellow Jews. As mentioned before, the rebuilding and the repairing of Jerusalem’s walls and gates is a metaphor for the spiritual rebuilding of the Jews as God’s chosen people; a light to the rest of the human race illuminating the One True God. Nehemiah believed that the true strength of the Jewish people was not realized in the fortifications of the Holy City, but in the faithfulness of their God as the people responded in faithful obedience. So, as the completion of the building project draws to a close, the priest, Ezra, takes to the stage and God’s word (given through Moses) is read for the people. They, just like us, must confront their own sin, embrace the gift of God’s grace and mercy, experience the joy of redemption, and finally covenant with God to live in faithful obedience.
Restoration begins with Repentance
August 1, 2021 • Pastor Chris Pappenfus • Nehemiah 5
Nehemiah was called by God and sent by the King of Persia to rebuild and repair the walls and gates of Jerusalem during the post-exile period from 444 to 432 BCE. The wall, though important, is in many ways a metaphor for the internal boundaries God's people needed to incorporate in order for future generations to live as God’s chosen among all the other nations of the world. The foundations of the Jewish faith being laid during this period would become the religious climate in which Jesus would minister 400 years later. Last week we learned how Nehemiah inspired the Jews to take action and face opposition in carrying out their task. Their enemies were strong and well organized, but easily identified. However, the biggest threat to Nehemiah and the remnant community was actually hiding in plain sight and would prove to be one of Nehemiah’s greatest challenges as a leader. This Sunday we will look at Nehemiah chapter 5 and explore how power and privilege intersect with responsibility and repentance, and how Nehemiah provides today’s church with a compelling call to action.