Dave Burnette's Commentary

Ezra Chapter 3

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Ezra
Date Penned: (450 BC)
Overview: The Return of the Jewish Exiles (c 1-10)
Theme: The Return Led By Zerubbabel (c 1-6)
Message: The Leaders Rebuild The Altar (1-70)

Ezra 3 Commentary 

(3:2-3) Seeking The Lord - The Jews built the altar as one of their first official acts. It symbolized God's presence and protection. It also demonstrated their purpose as a nation and their commitment to serve God alone. Zerubbabel sacrificed burnt Offerings as the law of Moses instructed (Leviticus 1-7). The sacrifices were essential because they demonstrated that the people were seeking God's guidance, rededicating themselves to living as he commanded, and daily asking him to forgive their sins.

(3:3) Resettlement - The Jews were afraid they were going to be attacked by the surrounding people-a mixed group whose ancestors had been conquered by the Assyrians. Foreigners had been forced to resettle in the northern kingdom of Israel after Israel was defeated and the people taken captive in 722 BC (4:1-2). This resettlement procedure was a common tactic of the Assyrians to prevent strong nationalistic uprisings by conquered peoples. Some of the resettled people in Israel had migrated south near Jerusalem, and they may have thought the returning exiles threatened their claim on the land.

(3:4) The Feast of Tabernacles - The Feast of Tabernacles lasted seven days. During this time the people lived in temporary dwellings (tents, booths, shelters) as their ancestors had done years before when they journeyed through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. The feast reminded the people of God's past protection and guidance in the wilderness and of his continued love for them. The Feast of Tabernacles is described in detail in Leviticus 23:33-36.

(3:5) A New Foundation of Worship -  Almost immediately after arriving in the new land, the returning exiles built an altar. The people began worshiping God through sacrifices even before the temple foundations were laid. After many years in captivity, they had learned their lesson - they knew that God does not offer special protection to people who ignore him. They had been carried off by the Babylonians when they were relatively strong; now they were few, weak, and surrounded by enemies. If ever they needed to rely on God's power, it was at this time. They realized the importance of obeying God from the heart tand not merely out of habit. If we want God's help when we undertake large tasks, we must make staying close to him our top priority.

(3:5) A Return To Sacrifices - These sacrifices were originally set up under the law of Moses in Leviticus 1 and 6:8-13. The feasts are described in Leviticus 23. At the beginning of every month (the Hebrew calendar was based on lunar months), at the time of the new moon, they also held a special observance (Numbers 10:10).

(3:7) A Need For Resources - When Solomon built the first temple (2 Chronicles 2), he had also exchanged Israel's plentiful resources of food and olive oil for building timber, a resource Israel lacked. The timber had come from Zidon (Sidon) and Tyre (who controlled the Lebanon mountains that time too.

(3:8) Putting God First - Why was the Lord's temple begun first, even before the city wall? The temple was used for spiritual purposes; the wall, for military and political purposes. God had always been the nation's protector, and the Jews knew that the strongest stone wall would not protect them if God was not with them. They knew that putting their spiritual lives in order was the only real way to ensure their national defense.

(3:8) Detailed Planning - It took from September (September was the seventh month because the year began in March) to April just to prepare to build the temple. The exiles took time to make plans because the project was important to them. Preparation may not feel heroic or spiritual, but it is vital to any project meant to be done well.

(3:10-11) Instructions For Worship - David had given clear instructions concerning the use of music in worship services in the temple (1 Chronicles 16; 25).

(3:10-11) Giving God The Glory - Completing the foundation for the temple required great effort on the part of all involved. But no one tried to get praise for themselves and their own hard work. Instead, everyone praised God for what had been done. All good gifts come from God--talents, abilities, strength, and leadership. We should also thank God for what he has done in and through us!

(3:12) Search God Wholeheartedly - Fifty years after its destruction, the temple was being rebuilt (536 BC. Some of the older people remembered Solomon's temple, and they wept because the new temple would not be as glorious as the first one. But the beauty of the building was not nearly as important to God as the attitudes of the builders and worshipers were. God cares more about who we are than what we accomplish. Our world is always changing, and once-magnificent accomplishments decay and disappear. Seek to serve God wholeheartedly. Then you won't need to compare your work with anyone else's. Because the new temple was built on the foundation of Solomon's temple, the two structures were not that different in size. But the old temple had been far more elaborate and ornate, and it was surrounded by many buildings and a vast courtyard. Both temples were constructed of imported cedar timber, but Solomon's had been decorated with vast amounts of gold and precious stones. Solomon's temple had taken over seven years to build; Zerubbabel's took about four years. Solomon's temple had been at the hub of a thriving city; Zerubbabel's was surrounded by ruins. No wonder the people wept. The celebration after laying the temple's foundation was marked by a contrast of emotions, shouts of joy and sounds of weeping. Both were appropriate. The Holy Spirit can stimulate us both to rejoice over the goodness of his grace and to grieve over the sins that have required him to correct us. God made us with the full range of emotions. He's pleased when we experience him in his totality. When we come into the presence of the almighty God, we may feel full of joy and thanksgiving yet at the same time feel sobered by our shortcomings.



Dave Burnette's Life Application

Rebuilding the Alter

 Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue in the book of Ezra with Chapter 3 and we see the continuation of the building of the temple with the leaders rebuilding the alter. The alter is a symbol of the sacrifice of our Lord and a place where we "Meet God" Once built, the people starting worshiping the Lord, singing and shouting praises. In making application we see that when we rebuild the alter in our life we will come to meet God. When we meet with Him we see His Holiness and our need for Him in our lives. In Worship, we lift Him up and place Him in the proper position in our lives. Once we Exalt the Savior, we experience the Joy of the Lord, and others are drawn to Him. How about you? Have you rebuilt the Alter of the Lord in your life? Let us learn from our text today and the rebuilding of the Alters to meet with God and experience true Worship.


Ezra 3

Ezra 3

 1And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.

 2Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.

 3And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.

 4They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required;

 5And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.

 6From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.

 7They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.

 8Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD.

 9Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites.

 10And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.

 11And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

 12But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:

 13So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.