What Are the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah All About?
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Well Ezra and Nehemiah are named after their essential characters Ezra and Nehemiah. They were reformers, one more on the civil side and one more on the religious side of things.
They were the leaders of this return to Israel movement, from Babylonian captivity. Their emphasis was rebuild the alter, rebuild the temple, rebuild the city, rebuild the wall.
I think you see the character of God in that emphasis of priorities. Rebuild the alter was the first thing. It was to remind the people of their sins. That sin deserves punishment, that sin has been punished but that also God provides a way of mercy and forgiveness through the blood of a sacrificial substitute.
So the emphasis is very much, let's get, you know you go back to a city a nation, the last thing you think of is let's get an alter built. Yet God says no. Alter first. Let's get ourselves reestablished on the right basis.
Again I think that's very much part of the Old Testaments prophetic momentum. Just keeps drawing the people back to the central emphasis of you need a sacrifice, God provides a sacrifice and God forgives through sacrifice.
It's only then that you can start rebuilding life. Your personal life, your national life, your social life and really that's a shadow message of the New Testaments message. Only by having Christ crucified, God's ultimate sacrifice, at the center, at the core, at the foundation of your life can you then rebuild your own personal life, your family life or even a national life.
So it's really saying Christ is the ultimate Ezra. Christ is there ultimate Nehemiah. Christ is the ultimate reformer.