Four characteristics of ‘Zerubbabel’s Gang’ that equipped them for the restoration of the kingdom of God (Ezra 1:14-15, ESV)

Ezra 1:14-15, ESV

Text: ‘….. Let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted … with silver and gold … for the house of God. … Then rose up … everyone whose spirit God had stirred … to rebuild the house of the Lord.’

  1. They were survivors . . .

The ‘viv’ syllable indicates ‘life’ (as in revive, vivacious etc). Every Christian is a survivor who ‘has passed from death to life’ (John 5:24), so is neither dead not even decaying, nor strugglers.

But each of us has also survived various crises in life by the grace of God. I experienced one such survival at the age of six, just after giving my life to Christ. I ran behind a stationary double-decker bus to cross our village street to the sweet shop just as a car came from my blind spot and flung me into the air in a somersault worthy of Olympic gymnastics. I landed, bewildered, on my back in the road with only seven minor scratches – and better road sense to benefit me for the rest of my life.

Dictionary definition: ‘survive’: (1) to live after the death of another – ‘he survived his wife by 12 years.’ (2) to continue existence or use after a passage of time or accident. From Old French ‘sourvivre’, from Latin ‘supervivere’ – from ‘super + vivere’ to live.

2 .  . . . who were still sojourners . . .

Technically, the syllable ‘jour’ is French for a day (as in ‘journal’, a daily record). A pilgrim is not a settler. God complained to Jeremiah (48:14) that ‘Moab has been at ease from his youth, and has settled on his dregs; he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into exile, so his taste is not changed.’

Regarding ‘days’, Moses (who lived to be 120) in Psalm 90 noted that his fellow-pilgrims from Egypt were dying as young as 70 or 80 years of age in the wilderness (Psalm 90: 10), and prayed: ‘Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom’ (Psalm 90:12). Nothing is permanent this side of the new heavens and the new earth. In fact, constant change is here to stay! Jesus even taught us to pray: ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ – including spiritual and material gifts ‘for the house of the Lord.’

  1. . . . who received ‘silver and gold’ for‘ the house of God’ . . .

These people were not smugly self-sufficient, nor were they stingy. From what God provided they would contribute to a sanctuary in which God could feel at home among them.

  1. . . . and were ever dependent on God’s promptings – they were those ‘whose spirit God has stirred’. They were not stagnant. Eph 5:18: ‘Be continually being filled in spirit/ by the Spirit.’
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