Sunday School Material 7-7-13: Restoring the Temple

(Ezra 3:8-13; 7/7/13)

Introduction: A key idea of today’s Sunday School material is God’s people celebrated the laying of the foundation for the Temple. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to celebrate progress towards doing God’s will.

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Body:

Read Ezra 3:8-9

I. Laying the Foundation. The leaders and people made their way to the house of God, in Jerusalem. They began the work. The Levites were the supervisors of the work.

 

Applications -

- Doing the work. Notice in vs. 8 of our Sunday School material that the people began the work. “Yes” there was a time of praying and planning. “Yes” there was a time of talking, traveling, and all kinds of preparation. But thank God, there was also a time of beginning the work. There are too many people who tire themselves out with all kinds of talking and other concerns before they ever begin the work. Consequently, the work is never completed. Let’s work on being doers of God’s will. This calls for clarity about God’s will and commitment to being a doer, instead of simply a talker. God has plans for every area of our lives - family, relationships, job, community, church, and so forth.

 

- Teamwork. Notice in vss. 8-9 of our Sunday School material that there was a division of labor. Everyone did not have the same job, but everyone had a job to do. In like manner, everyone has a job to do in the church, even though our jobs vary depending on our gifts, availability, and trust level. Let’s seek to understand and carryout our various jobs. Notice further that some of the workers’ names were called and some were not. We should be much more concerned with the work being completed than with our names being called. Completing God’s work for our lives will include great blessings for the entire team. Those blessings should be more important to us than our names being called.

 

Read Ezra 3:10-11

II. Celebrating the Completion. When the builders laid the foundation, there was great praise given to God. The priests and Levites served as worship leaders. However, all of the people participated shouting out praises to the Lord for the foundation being laid.

 

Applications -

- Celebrating steps in the right direction. Notice in vss. 10-11 of our Sunday School material that the people celebrated the foundation being laid. The foundation is not pretty, but it is necessary. So it is in life. There are milestones along the way that we should learn to appreciate, because they signal that we are moving in the right direction. Getting out of debt is a step towards financial well being. Loosing 5 pounds is a step towards physical fitness. Let’s work on celebrating steps in the right direction. Of course, we need to have some goals to help us appreciate where we are trying to go, so we can appreciate progress.

 - Everyone in worship. Notice in vss. 10-11 of our Sunday School material that everyone was involved in praise and worship. It was not an activity for simply the women, the worship leaders, or any select group. Every person of God should be involved in praise and worship. Let’s work on being involved in praise and worship. God has been, is being, and promises to be worthy of the praise and worship of every believer. We must fight the temptation of delegating worship to the worship leaders. And we must fight the temptation of only worshipping when we feel like it. We are to worship based on instruction, not simply based on feelings.

 

Read Ezra 3:12-13

III. Contrasting the Responses. There was a mixed response to the foundation. The older leaders and people who saw the previous Temple wept aloud. It seems they were very disappointed that the new building would not be as large as the previous one. However, the younger generation were excited about seeing any progress being made, especially since they were not familiar with the previous Temple.

 

Applications -

- Elder’s response. Notice in vss. 12-13 that a number of the elders were weeping out loud. It seems they were so disappointed that the new Temple would not be as large as the older one. The elders should have known that God is bigger than the Temple. They should have felt responsible for setting a better example for the young people. As those who claim to be mature in the Lord, let’s work on setting a great example with our response to life. We don’t want to be guilty of influencing a complaining, weeping, or apathetic spirit.

 

- Zeal and knowledge. Notice in vss. 12-13 that the younger people were shouting with enthusiasm about the new Temple to come. It can be argued that they were shouting based on emotions  more than knowledge. In like manner, there are some young people who are known for energetic praise today who do not appear to have a great deal of knowledge. Let’s work on helping all of the believers in our church have an energetic worship based on knowing God and His will for our lives. When one worships with enthusiasm but never comes to Bible Study or Sunday School, never tithes, and never does anything beyond what they are a primary participant in, the worship is suspect. Without knowledge and maturity, the current young people will grow to be as disappointing as the weeping older people.

Conclusion: Based on our Sunday School material let's work on celebrating progress towards doing God’s will. God has much for those who obey His will.

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