One of the most common biblical precepts from the life of Daniel through Jesus is, “You have got to know your history to know your inheritance.”
Before the coming of Jesus, John the Baptist reminded Israel of their history as part of his ministry to “turn the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:5-6). When new generations learn the history of people of faith, they receive an inheritance which “makes straight the way for the Lord” to do even more on the Earth (Isaiah 40:3).
Transition: From Captivity into Reformation
Corporately right now, spirit-led Christians around the world are crossing over from a historical period of captivity into reformation. In order to have wisdom to navigate this radical shift in the Body of Christ, Christians must learn from the biblical history of the Babylonian exile and reconstruction of Jerusalem.
Just as the city of Jerusalem translates to “City of Peace”, God is equipping his servants today with innovative ideas to establish the righteousness and justice of Jesus’ Kingdom on Earth. This New Jerusalem isn’t related to a specific territory or ethnic group, but it relates to an invitation to all willing individuals to serve King Jesus, as led by the Spirit of God to see Jesus’ Kingdom established.
There are various lessons that Israel’s pre-exile, exile, and post-exile periods can teach contemporary Christians about how to partner with God at this time.
Neglect that Causes Exile: Learning from Hezekiah’s Failure Pre-Exile
In addition to the idolatry of Israel’s Kings (2 Kings 17), one of the greatest sins of Israel was the failure to steward the inheritance of their children. While this sin arguably started with David’s infidelity and unwillingness to set his house in order, his descendent Hezekiah suffers from the same error of judgment 12 generations later.
Like David, Hezekiah is a King who starts his reign well but finishes badly. The first King after Ahaz, Hezekiah dismantles statues and sites of idol worship. He reinstates the Levitical priesthood and religious festivals that reminded the people of their history. Because of Hezekiah’s faithfulness, God delivered Jerusalem from an attempted attack by the Assyrians, never allowing them to even enter the city.
After this period, Hezekiah falls sick, and Isaiah informs him that his illness will cause him to die. He appeals to God’s mercy, and the Lord adds 15 years to his life. In his prayer of Thanksgiving to God, he declares:
“The living, the living — they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness.”Isaiah 38:19
Like David’s repentance and worship of God after the stillborn death of his illegitimate son with Bathsheba, Hezekiah is grateful to have a second chance. But sadly like David, his following actions fail to prioritize the wellbeing of the same children mentioned in his praises.
Not long after social success, military victory, and personal deliverance does Hezekiah stumble. Success causes Hezekiah to fall asleep at a time when he should have been most alert. Instead of discretely hiding the strength of his Kingdom, he leads visiting Babylonian emissaries on a grand tour of his stored riches. In both pride and naïveté, he flaunts the inheritance that should have been guarded and stored up for his children.
In light of this colossal failure of judgement, Isaiah tells him that in the days of his predecessors, his indiscretion would cause disaster.
“Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord.”
Beyond just material wealth, Babylon would even steal his most important gift: his offspring.
And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”Isaiah 39:7
In moments like these, most parents would beg God for forgiveness. But in shocking disregard, Hezekiah focuses merely on himself.
Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.”Isaiah 39:8
As a prophet, Isaiah’s response is much more attuned to God’s emotions. In Isaiah 40-45, he prophesies comfort to children of Israel that would be taken captive.
Later on, John the Baptist would reveal the same highway of repentance that Isaiah prophesies (Isaiah 40:3, John 1:23). Ultimately, God would overcome the sins of David, Hezekiah, and all of Israel’s leaders through his own King, Jesus. Ultimately, Jesus’ faithfulness to the Church would restore and create a highway for all people to become Godly offspring.
Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.Malachi 2:15
I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:
He said to me, “You are my son;Psalm 2:7-8
today I have become your father.
8 Ask me,
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
During the Exile: Learning from Babylon’s Mis-example
By the time God brings people out of Babylon, they have learned what makes Babylon problematic.
In the composition of the books of Esther and Daniel, the biblical writers insert tongue-in-cheek mockery of Babylon’s pride and sense of permanence.
In both Daniel and Esther, the royal advisors and Kings claim that their law is perfect and “cannot be repealed” by even the king’s decrees.
“Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”Daniel 6:8
“Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring—for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”Esther 8:8
God upstages the laws of Babylon through his authority to command the Lion’s mouths to remain shut (natural law), and through causing Xerxes to issue an entirely separate (contradictory) law in defense of the Jews. Ultimately, only Yahweh’s law is eternal.
From a historical perspective, the Babylonian Archaemenid Dynasty’s double mindedness, instability, and excess resulted in a constant stream of usurpers and coups. For example, Xerxes’ pride caused him to display the entire wealth of his Kingdom, treat his guests to a full 6 months of fasting before deposing Queen Vashti in a fit of anger. Through constant upheaval and violence, the Babylonians failed to value life and were marked by injustice. The story of Daniel in the lion’s den, the fiery furnace, and Haman’s pre-mediated murder of Mordecai demonstrate God’s anger at the Babylonian’s lack of justice.
Another way that the biblical writers’ mock Babylon is through the linguistic similarity of King Belshazzar’s name (“God protect the King”) and Daniel’s Babylonian name, Belteshazzar (“God protects him”). In Daniel 4-5, the writer’s refer to Daniel by his Babylonian name to inspire the question:
Who does God really protect? Is it his servants, or proud rulers?
God’s protection of his servants over the unjust rulers of the earth becomes the running theme of the book of Daniel.
One of the ways God chooses to humble Babylon is by driving King Nebuchadnezzar II insane. Similarly, when King Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar fails to learn from the sins of his father, he is assassinated.
As a symbol of all nations whose pride, materialism, and injustice would ultimately inspire God’s wrath, God ultimately defeats Babylon through Jesus’ triumph on the cross.
A second angel followed and said, “’Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great,’ which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.”Revelation 14:8
God blames Babylon for the spirit of Whoredom that turns the nations hearts away from him, increases injustices like slavery, and allows human lives to be made worthless.
The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13 cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.Revelation 18:11-13
“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,Revelation 18:17
dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet,
and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!
17 In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’
Like Daniel, God’s people are warned to not assimilate to Babylon but instead to value the humility, service, generosity, and justice of Jesus’ Kingdom.
The certain defeat of Babylon carries a strong warning for national leaders and nationalist churches today: Proclaiming your own national greatness will result in ruin.
Pride may be the rule of the earth, but Christians serve a different King and Kingdom. Judging from the life of Jesus, no one is qualified to rule within the Kingdom of God without first becoming a servant (Matthew 23:11, Isaiah 49).
Coming out of Exile: Each One has a Part to Play
About 100 years after Isaiah, as King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon approached, Jeremiah would also offer hope of restoration to Jerusalem’s offspring (Jeremiah 30:18-24). Only the poorest people would remain in the land while the descendants of Israel’s kings were taken captive. In order to come out of captivity, each of the children of Israel would need to play their part in seeing God’s promises fulfilled.
The Role of the Scribe
Daniel did not just understand the importance of remaining ethically distinct from the Babylonians or interpret dreams; he stewarded his history. In addition to being a Seer and Watchman prophet, Daniel was also a prophetic scribe, or someone who records and seals revelation in writing. Daniel tracked the amount of time that had passed between the Jeremiah’s 70 year prophesy (Jeremiah 25:11) and current events. He cried out to God after the appropriate amount of time had passed in intercession for the house of Israel to be re-established. (Daniel 9). As a result of his prayers, the angel Gabriel explains to him that there would be a set time for the captives to return to Jerusalem, and then for God to continue restoring his house through Jesus Christ. The remainder of the book of Daniel (Daniel 10-12) focuses on prophesies that relate to Jesus’ end times rule and triumph over evil. Daniel doesn’t full understand, but faithfully seals up the words of the prophesies for a people who would later understand them. It isn’t explicitly discussed in the book of Daniel, but he also manages to get King Cyrus to issue a decree for the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 6:3). Isaiah foretold that Cyrus would help re-establish the temple, saying:
“I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the LORD Almighty.”Isaiah 45:13
Daniel’s stewardship of God’s word ultimately sets both the process of rebuilding the temple and rebuilding God’s house through Christ in motion.
Stewardship’s Effects on Human History
Similarly to the revelation released, sealed, and rediscovered after Daniel, God sends scribes at the beginning of all major social reformations. For that reason, the Church will and already is seeing a rise of prophetic scribes and written prophesy. These scribed words and scribes will provide a rudder for decades and centuries into the reformation process God is currently initiating.
This pattern is well-documented in biblical history. For example, in 2 Chronicles 34 under King Josiah’s reforms, priests re-discovered lost books of the law (2 Chronicles 34:14-33). In response to Josiah’s heart posture of worship, the Lord allowed these books to be found so that the people would have guidelines to eliminate the idol worship that had become common.
Within modern history, God also allows individuals to re-discovering scribed prophesy or learning to advance social reform. In 1947, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls prompted the examination of extra-biblical cultures which led to the field of modern biblical scholarship in the 20th century. In the 1200s to 1400s, Italian scholars discovered Roman and Greek artifacts and writings that prompted the Italian Renaissance. Over time, the pursuit of truth via Renaissance technology and art had ripple effects on the Protestant Reformation. Via Martin Luther, the Lord brought the effect of the Italian Renaissance ironically full circle to reform Italy’s Roman papacy. Martin Luther’s 1510 visit to Rome, Italy solidified his discontent over papal abuses. Some of Italy’s own renaissance-era mechanical technology would form the basis of the printing press used to circulate his ideas. Later on, Dietrich Bonhoeffer embodied Luther’s same German desire for purity and truth in his resistance to Nazis, however in marked opposition to Luther’s infamous anti-semitism. Through the generational faithfulness of his people, God sends reformers who build on the works of their predecessors with increasing purity.
In general, God is not mocked. He waits until appointed times to share things he has intentionally hidden, and moves through individuals to see his reformation purposes established. Can you imagine what would happen if all of us were that intentional as Daniel in our personal and public lives, to hide things entirely until their appointed times?
The Role of the Deliverer
As stated earlier, Babylon’s empire used excessive violence as a way of saving face domestically and promoting military strength abroad.
Gentleness and Humility
Esther’s role as Deliverer would have been different than Deborah’s role as Judge. While both women served as leaders for their people, Esther’s priority was to preserve the people’s lives long enough to see the day of deliverance. Therefore, Esther had to find a style of leadership for a foreign context where in spite of her title, she held no true authority. While Deborah’s purpose was to directly lead people into victory to deal with crises within Israel’s borders, Esther had to serve as a symbol of her people, modeling Christlike humility and gentleness in order to avoid becoming a target. While humility and gentleness in conduct are the responsibility of all Christians, the humility of Christians in high risk and hostile ministry contexts today saves lives.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.Proverbs 15:1
A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, but the wise will appease it.Proverbs 16:14
Esther also models an outstanding degree of discretion. At the request of her uncle, she sees the wisdom in keeping her Jewish identity private. She obediently conceals aspects of herself so that she can reveal these traits at a time when it would serve her community. Unlike (Western) cultures that focus excessively on individuals’ rights to self-expression, there are specific situations where a high degree of discretion makes individuals and their communities safe.
Discretion will guard you,Proverbs 2:11
Understanding will watch over you.
As a ring of gold in a swine’s snoutProverbs 11:22
So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion.
Lastly, Esther’s obedience in the face of tangible danger preserved the lives of herself and her family.
Esther passed the test of hiddenness, but she needed to pass the test of action in order to not die.
“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”Esther 4:13-14
Today, Christians sometimes believe that because of their privilege or position, they will be able to remain in hiding and avoid opposition. Sadly, conditional prophesy demonstrates that hiding when God has called you into action can have catastrophic consequences. In conditional prophetic words, God attaches specific conditions that his people are called to align with and action. If Esther would have stayed at a theoretical level of knowing God’s promises and remained hidden, at minimum her life, her family’s lives, and their future generations would have been eliminated.
Esther’s humility, discretion, and obedience allowed her to adopt a leadership style that would keep her and her community safe in the midst of chaos. She demonstrated that when intentionally chosen, meekness can be its own form of strength.
Role of the Shepherd
Several decades after Esther marries the King, Nehemiah has a position of influence as Artaxerxes I’s cupbearer. Similar to Esther’s role in proximity to the King, Nehemiah has to choose to risk. However, unlike Esther, who has to remain calm in presenting her requests to the King, Nehemiah must own his emotions.
Like men and women today who would prefer to remain composed but may instead need to be transparent about the sin’s emotional toll on their lives, Nehemiah actually has to lead with vulnerability.
And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. 3 I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 4 Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven.Nehemiah 2:2-4
It isn’t surprising that some of God’s early adapters are those who are most in touch with his heart to see the new thing established. Nehemiah demonstrates that without emotional engagement, the people of God are next to useless to the world.
Justice and Mercy
The King’s solidarity with Nehemiah gives Nehemiah favor to travel and lead the rebuilding effort in Jerusalem. Throughout the book of Nehemiah, for many decades, and likely the majority of his life, Nehemiah continues to enlist the people, delegate responsibility, and persevere until the temple is established.
However, in order to build a new temple, Nehemiah would have to correct the abuses of the Old temple. Specifically, God was looking for Nehemiah to address the injustices against Israel’s poorest citizens, who had long been taken advantage of by the ruling class prior to the ruler’s exile. Like all Reformations, Nehemiah knew that justice for the oppressed must be part of the rebuilding process.
In Nehemiah 4, listens to the people and discovers that some of the poor who remained in Jerusalem are have made themselves a new ruling class. These leaders have extorted the poor for money so severely that the poor have had to sell their children into slavery.
Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. 5 Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”Nehemiah 4:4-5
Once again, the depravity of the house of Israel can be measured by the treatment of its’ children. In mercy, Nehemiah confronts and rebukes the leaders and gives them an opportunity to make things right. Through a prophetic act, he warns them that if they return to injustice, they and their children would be defrauded.
Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. 13 I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!”Nehemiah 4:12-13
Since God’s warnings against extortion date back to the Exodus, Nehemiah demonstrates tremendous mercy.
Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you.Leviticus 25:36
Woe to those who enact evil statutesIsaiah 10;1-2
And to those who constantly record unjust decisions,
So as to deprive the needy of justice
And rob the poor of My people of their rights,
So that widows may be their spoil
And that they may plunder the orphans.
Ultimately, mercy and justice were the sacrifices that God wanted all along.
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.Hosea 6:6
Beyond just rebuking leaders, Nehemiah’s authority to establish justice comes from the mercy he demonstrated to the poor as their leader. Just as Christ gave himself away, When Nehemiah recognized the extent of the suffering of the poor, he surrenders his own rights in order for them to flourish.
In spite of all this, I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people.
19 Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people.Nehemiah 4:18-19
Later in the New Testament, Paul also surrenders his right to be supported by the people’s income when he sees their need.
But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. 16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.1 Corinthians 9:15-18
Today like Nehemiah, Jesus challenges Christians to give away their rights in service of vulnerable people who could not receive good news without sacrificial giving. Through vulnerable leadership, justice, and mercy, Nehemiah demonstrates capacity as a Good Shepherd.
And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”Luke 3:11
Before the people can re-inhabit the new Jeru-shalem (“City of Peace”) true peace must come from Christlike justice.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.Psalm 89:14
The Role of the Prophets
Strategic, Timely National Words
After Nehemiah starts rebuilding and before Ezra comes to consecrate the temple, prophets Haggai and Zechariah shared the Lord’s sense of urgency for the work to be completed. The effect of these strategic prophesies was that both the future governor of Israel (Zerubbabel) and Israel’s future High Priest (Jeshua) supported the rebuilding process.
Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. 2 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were with them, supporting them.Ezra 5:1-2
Now, even though Haggai and Zechariah gave similar prophetic words within a year of one another, they were very different as prophets. Haggai 1:1 identifies Haggai as a nabi prophet or someone who receives mostly internal auditory revelation. Another clue that Haggai is a nabi prophet is that most of his prophesies start with the address, “This is what the Lord says“, as though he is repeating God’s articulated words secondhand (ex: Haggai 1:5). The book of Haggai is relatively short compared with the narrative style of the book of Zechariah, it almost serves as a ledger of the specific words Haggai delivers and their effects.
While Zechariah is also described in Zechariah 1:1 as a Seer prophet, the book of Zechariah contains so much visual revelation that it is likely he functioned in some ways as a Seer prophet also. While Haggai’s prophecies focus mostly on the current day issues facing leaders and the God’s promise to re-purify the people, Zechariah’s prophesies stretch from current events, Messianic hope, even until the Day of the Lord (ie, Judgement Day).
Knowing Your Identity as a Prophet: Comparing Haggai and Zechariah
Another reason Haggai and Zechariah’s prophesies were effective is that each owned their own specific assignment as a prophet without needing to assimilate or compete with one another. Immature prophets are not very useful to the Kingdom of God for various reasons, but with maturity and a clear sense of identity comes the capacity to collaborate as part of a prophetic team.
|Year that prophecies are first recorded||~424 BC||~423 BC|
|Types of Revelation||Auditory||Visual|
|Length||2 chapters||12 chapters|
|Major Themes||Exposing leaders’ excuses to delay rebuilding the Temple, God’s promise to re-purify the people, God endorsing Zerubabbel to finish the work|
Haggai more focused on the qualitative difference between the first and second temples/houses of Israel/covenants.
|Testing and Gathering, Gathering, Purification of the Priesthood from False Prophesy, Jesus as New High Priest, Justice and Mercy, Promise to Bless Jerusalem again, Judgment on God’s enemies, Re-unification of Israel, Jesus as the Better Shepherd|
More specifically, Zechariah underscores the importance of justice to define and usher in Jesus’ Kingdom (Zechariah 7), the redemption of Judah (Southern Kingdom) (Zechariah 10), the people’s repentance after murdering Christ (Zechariah 12:10-14), cleansing from false prophesy (Zechariah 13), and the Day of the Lord (Zechariah 14).
|Style||Ledger of verbal prophesies and their effects||Narrative|
|Length of Time Prophesied||Current events||Current events – Judgment Day|
Regardless of their distinctions, as National Prophets, both Haggai and Zechariah specifically name and address Israel’s leaders:
- To Rulers: Zerubbabel, son of the Shealtiel the Governor of Judah
- To Priests: Joshua, son of Zodak the High Priest
Furthermore, both prophets give personal prophesy as an element of their effective national prophetic words.
- Haggai prophesies to Zerubbabel that God has chosen him as an instrument to finish the rebuilding (Haggai 2:20-23).
- Zechariah prophesies to Jeshua about purifying his conduct (Zechariah 3:6-7) and then uses him to prefigure Jesus (3:8), since Joshua and Yeshua mean the same thing (Deliverer).
Lastly, in each personal prophesy and the arch of their national prophetic words, both Haggai and Zechariah ground their prophesies in hope.
“The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,” says the Lord Almighty. “And in this place I will grant peace.”Haggai 2:9
Without hope, it is impossible for people to receive words effectively.
Without these strategic, well-timed national words, Israel would not have had the formal support and internal alignment they needed to overcome spiritual and physical opposition to the temple’s rebuilding.
The Role of the Teacher
Finally, Ezra is a Priestly Teacher who comes to oversee the rebuilding of the Temple in the reign of Artaxerxes. While Ezra travels to Jerusalem over 10 years in advance of Nehemiah, he ultimately oversees not just the construction but the future of the temple.
Similar to the differences between Haggai and Zechariah, Nehemiah and Ezra were wildly different builders. While the book of Nehemiah is written as a narrative, the historical sections of the book of Ezra demonstrate Ezra’s training as a priest. The first six chapters of the book focus on the history of the rebuilding effort from Cyrus (time of Daniel) to Artaxerxes (Ezra’s day).
The book of Ezra contains genealogies, details about the reconstruction of the altar, and specifically addresses the people’s failure of morality through intermarriage. Each of these details are relevant to the Priest’s responsibility to uphold God’s standards.
Ezra needed to help the people understand their community’s sacred history so that they could embody its future. During Reformation, the Priest Teacher’s primary focus is to build the new thing in a way that honors the past. Just as Jesus’s new covenant build on the foundation of the Old Covenant, so the new temple would have to mimic and expand the responsibility of the first temple. Today, believers know that the body of each believer in Christ has become a new temple of the Holy Spirit.
Under Ezra, the people acknowledged the specific sins that led to the temple’s destruction (Ezra 9).
Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies.Nehemiah 9:26
Under Ezra, they took responsibility for obeying God’s covenant (Nehemiah 10:28-39).
We will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons. 31 And if the peoples of the land bring in goods or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on a holy day. And we will forego the crops of the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.Nehemiah 10:30-31
Just like the New Covenant under Jesus, Ezra’s leadership demonstrates that there is no salvation and restoration without repentance.
Just as a person seeks God because they have faith that he exists (even if only at the level of a nudge)…
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.Hebrews 11:6
So salvation requires you to be personally aware that you need a Savior.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,Romans 3:23
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.Acts 2:38
Reformation under Ezra caused the Israelites to not merely blame their ancestors for the sins’ of the community. They recognized that they had a responsibility before God to be part of the solution and set a new standard.
Purity and alignment with the righteousness of Christ causes qualifies Priestly Teachers to teach. When Priestly Teachers lead in Reformation, the people respond by being teachable.
Over time, a community’s teachability produces wisdom that they can pass on to the generations. In term, wisdom prevents exile by preventing the conditions for sin.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.Proverbs 4:7
Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.Proverbs 9:10
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.James 3:13
This Era: Choose to Engage
Just like Daniel, today’s Christians have various ancestors of faith who “longed to see the day of Christ” but were unable to (Matthew 13:17, Luke 10:24).
After thousands of years of history waiting on the full revelation of Jesus, the Church is at the precipice of a new Apostolic Era of Reformation. The era of isolation and standing in judgment of secular society is over. Right now, Jesus is challenging his church to enter into the Era of Engagement to see his Kingdom be fully established on the earth.
For those who are willing to hear, the lives of the Israel’s exiles reveal key truths for how to come out of exile:
- Daniel: Be diligent with every word of God and hold him to his promises. Intercede with leaders and seal up the revelation.
- Esther: Lead with meekness, discretion, and obedience to preserve the people’s lives. Let the gentleness of your approach set you apart.
- Haggai and Zechariah: Prophesy strategically and in season to enlist key leaders and organize the people.
- Nehemiah: Lead with vulnerability and solidarity with the oppressed. Lay justice as your foundation.
- Ezra: Respect the past as you establish the new. Lead the people in repentance so that wisdom can flourish and preserve what God has established.