Posts Tagged ‘ Ezra ’

Nothing New: The Church’s Foundation: Part 4: Legalists

I am currently the Youth Pastor for The Church Next Door in Prescott Valley, AZ. On Sunday, August 11, 2019, I took over teaching the adult Sunday School class (the foundation of why we learn from history) before the regular service. (If you find yourself in North Central Arizona, specifically the Prescott Valley area, come join in from 8:45 to 9:45 AM, and then stay for the singing and sermon at 10!)

The second and third lessons were combined in the post two weeks ago, with a look at when the Church was founded and the various forms of leadership Jesus dealt with. Previous was a look at how he rebuked those in leadership.

Again, here are my notes:

Nothing New: The Importance of Church History

Lesson 5: Christ and the Church’s Foundation – Modern Comparisons

The leadership in the time of Jesus included the entirely secular yet pagan Roman Empire, the hyper-religious Pharisees, the super-compromised Sadducees, the fastidious Essenes, and the rebellious Zealots.

Briefly, how do we see nothing new in our leadership?

Modern comparisons:

  • The Divided leadership (remember that there can be bleed-over from group to group):
    • Pharisees – Got a lot right, but added a lot.
      • Legalism – Follow our rules our way, or you are a heathen
        • Matthew 15:1-9 (quoting Isaiah 29:13)
        • Colossians 2:4-10
      • Expected a Messiah to come, but they were willing to work with the government.
        • Many expected two messiahs: conquering king and reforming high priest
          • Think Ezra and Nehemiah as precursors
      • Very similar to Post-millennial Christians and wanting the religious leadership in charge.
      • Modern equivalents: Roman Catholic, some Lutheran, believers in “Federal Vision” (the Church runs the government), New Apostolic Reformation and their 7 Hills/Mountains

Traveling Mercies

For most of the month of June (already started!), my wife and I are traveling around Illinois and Wisconsin to visit family and friends.

This has reminded me of a few things.

  • Youth trips in high school, when we would pray before setting out on each trip.
  • Driving around with the youth leader and praying as we got in the car.
  • Big family trips which would start out with a prayer.
  • Going to Morocco and praying with the church before we set out.
  • A particular message the pastor shared about seven years ago.

A new church was going to be launched out of our church. He led up to the announcement by sharing about Ezra taking Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. I am sure you can see the connection: Ezra went out to rebuild the Temple; some of us were going out to build a new congregation.

Something he said really stuck with me, however. It came from Ezra 8:21-23:

There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

 The first part that stuck with me was the call to a fast.

We need to remember that God is the one in control, but He wants to hear from us. He desires to hear us ask Him for things.

The second part that stuck with me was that even in our shame and pride, God listens.

Ezra pointedly says “I was ashamed to ask the king . . . because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to Him.” This pride was not one of a personal nature. Oh, no! This was pride in the promises of God, of which Ezra knew to be true.

Therefore, Ezra prayed, and “he answered our prayer.”

The final part that stuck with me was that this was a “biblical institution of praying for traveling mercies!”

This one may not be the most holy, per se, but that is a direct quote from Pastor Scott. “And here we see the biblical institution of praying for traveling mercies!”

This reminds me that God wants us to ask Him for anything and everything. To be fair, though, we need to remember that His answer is yes when we pray according to His will (see John 14:12-14, and really all of John 14-16). (He may say yes to things “outside of His will,” but that is a matter for another day!)

So, on this fine day, I remind you to take prayer seriously, believe that God will answer, and do not be afraid to ask for His protection on your journeys.

Also, please pray for us as we travel!