Building God's kingdom is all about obedience. It begins with people who have hearts for God who use their spiritual gifts and finances to build God's kingdom. Next, praise, build foundations in God's word, resist ungodly partnerships, teach a biblical worldview, confess sin and apply His word in all of life, especially marriage.
Mobilize People to Build God's Kingdom
Jeremiah moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia in his first year to build a temple for God in Jerusalem. Cyrus said for everyone to provide silver, gold, goods, livestock and freewill offerings. Family heads of Judah and Benjamin, priests and Levites with hearts for God would build the house of Lord in Jerusalem with assistance of their neighbors. Cyrus brought out articles that Nebuchadnezzar had carried from Jerusalem. Ezra listed men and Israelites taken captive to Babylon who returned to their towns in Judah with Zerubbabel, Nehemiah and others. They included men of Israel and Bethlehem, priests, Levites, singers, descendants of Asaph, gatekeepers of the temple, temple servants and descendants of Solomon's servants. Those excluded from the priesthood because they had no family record could not eat sacred food until a priest ministered with the Urim and Thummim. Some heads of families gave freewill offerings and according to their ability gave toward rebuilding the house of God (Ezra 1:1-2:70). Mobilize people with hearts for God to build God's kingdom using their spiritual gifts and finances.
Praise God and Build Foundations in God's Word
People assembled as one man to build the altar of the God in sacrificing burnt offerings and celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles along with appointed feasts according to the Law of Moses. They gave money to the masons and carpenters. They gave food, drink and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre so they could bring cedar logs by sea from Lebanon to Joppa. Zerubbabel and brothers appointed Levites 20 years of age and older to supervise the building of the house of the Lord. The priests with trumpets and Levites (sons of Asaph) with cymbals praised the Lord as prescribed by David singing "He is good; His love to Israel endures forever." The people shouted praise to the Lord because the foundation was laid. Many of the older priests and Levites who saw the former temple wept and others shouted for joy when they saw the temple's foundation laid (Ezra 3:1-13). Praise God and build foundations in God's word to preserve unity in the church.
Resist Ungodly Partnerships
The enemies of Judah and Benjamin wanted to help build the temple saying they sacrificed to God. When Zerubbabel and heads of families said they had no part, they tried to discourage and make Judah afraid by hiring counselors to work against them. They accused Judah of rebellion and not paying taxes after Jerusalem's walls were rebuilt. King Artaxerxes ordered that the work be stopped. The work resumed during the second year of King Darius of Persia (Ezra 4:1-24). Resist ungodly partnerships and accusations that seek to discourage and make you fear.
Exhort People to Build God's Kingdom
Haggai and Zechariah prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem. Zerubbabel rebuild the house of God with His eye watching over the elders. Officials wrote King Darius explaining why Judah was rebuilding the temple. They asked the king to verify whether Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild the house of God. Darius replied the Jews could rebuild with expenses by paid out of the royal treasury including animals given daily for the burnt offerings. Darius also asked the Jews to pray for his family. The Jewish elders prospered under the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah. They finished building the temple according to God's command and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes. They dedicated the house of God with joy, made sin offering, installed priests and Levites for the service of God, along with Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread according to the Law of Moses (Ezra 5:1-6:22). Exhort people to build God's kingdom.
Teach a Biblical Worldview
The king granted Ezra everything he asked and arrived safely since God's hand was on them. He devoted himself to study, practice and teach God's decrees and laws in Israel. Artaxerxes allowed priests, Levites and anyone to go to Jerusalem with Ezra to inquire about Judah and Jerusalem with regard to the Law. They brought money provided by the king and peoples' freewill offerings to buy animals for sacrifices without taxation. The king instructed Ezra to appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to those who knew God's laws and taught those who did not. Those who did not obey God's law were punished by death, confiscation of property or imprisonment. Ezra took courage and gathered Israel's leading men to go with him because God's hand was on him (Ezra 7:1-28). Teach a biblical worldview so people obey God in all of life.
Ezra assembled family heads, capable men of learning among the Levites and attendants for the house of God. He answered prayer for a safe journey after fasting. They consecrated and weighed the silver, gold and articles from the king and peoples' freewill offering to the Lord. After God protected them from enemies and bandits, they sacrificed burnt and sin offerings. When Ezra heard leaders intermarried with neighboring people, he sat appalled until the evening sacrifice. In prayer, he said their sin and guilt was higher than their heads and reached to the heavens resulting in death and captivity. God gave a little relief and granted new life to rebuild the house of God, repair its ruins and gave a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem. Intermarriage with corrupted people showed they disregarded God's commands from the prophets. Even though God punished them less than they deserved, no one could stand in God's righteous presence (Ezra 8:1-9:15). Reveal disobedience that causes guilt, ruin and defeat.
Pray to Empower Confession and Application
Ezra's prayer, confession and weeping caused people to gather and weep too. One man said he had been unfaithful to God by marrying foreign women. He asked they covenant before God and send away these women and children according to the counsel of Ezra and God-fearing people. Ezra put all the people under oath to do what was suggested. He continued to mourn over the exile's unfaithfulness. Within three days, all the men gathered and Ezra said they married foreign women adding to Israel's guilt. He told them to confess to the Lord, do His will and separate from their foreign wives. Ezra selected family heads to investigate the cases and listed those guilty of intermarriage (Ezra 10:1-44). Pray to empower confession of sin and application of God's word, especially in marriage
How will you obey God's word in your marriage, the building block in building up His kingdom?