Today’s reading: Ezra 5:1–6:22, 1 John 3:19–24, Ps 106:30–48
Today’s Theme: God’s Decree
Today we look at the sureness of God’s decrees and the call on us to finish well. God has provided all the support that we need in order to finish well, so let us run the race set before us, with faith.
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 5:2 (ESV)
We give God thanks for the way He has chosen to build the church.
We are told by Paul that God has decreed that some members of the church have special gifts to lead the church. This is sometimes called the fivefold ministry. We read this in Ephesians 4:11–12 “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds (pastors) and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ”.
Our Pastors stand in that prophetic office for us today, as powerful preachers of God’s word. They spur us on in the work of the Lord (as they are empowered and led by God the Holy Spirit), which is the building up of the body of Christ and the expansion of God’s kingdom on the earth.
We should recognise the importance of submitting under the prophetic leadership of the Pastors that God has given to us. They bring great support to our lives as we seek to be built up individually and corporately in Christ.
Give God thanks for Pastor Dennis and Rev Taylor today, and ask God to help you to see the importance of them in your life. They are God’s instruments and are being used for God’s work.
At the same time Tattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and their associates came to them and spoke to them thus: “Who gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?” Ezra 5:3 (ESV)
The devil and his demons do not want us to be finishers or to finish well. 1 Peter 5:8
The enemy does not want us to finish that which God has called us to do. The old nature is selfish and lazy, seeking its own glory. We need to be aware of the pull of the flesh, the influence of the world and the schemes of the enemy that cause us to leave the work unfinished. Romans 8:7
Today set your heart to be resolute to see the work finished. Jesus is our great example, He set His face like flint and then victoriously declared from the cross, “it is finished.” John 19:30
In the ultimate sense, the enemy does not want us to finish the race set before us, but we must recognise the stumbling blocks that the enemy will put in the way and we must overcome them. We need to determine in our hearts, to run the race of faith and not to give up until we reach our desired goal, which is heaven. Philippians 3:12
See the following new testament scriptures on running the race of faith: Hebrews 12:1, 1 Corinthians 9:24, Galatians 5:7, Philippians 2:16 and 2 Timothy 4:7.
God has decreed that you will finish, therefore, determine to finish well.
The Great God
Be it known to the king that we went to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God. It is being built with huge stones, and timber is laid in the walls. This work goes on diligently and prospers in their hands. Ezra 5:8 (ESV)
Our God is sovereign, even the enemy has to recognise Him for who He is.
Our modern culture has done everything it can to erase God from our thoughts, with its philosophy of naturalism and the resulting theories of evolution, including the idea of nothing exploding then creating everything. This is simply illogical and has never been observed in the scientific sense. This is known as the big bang theory.
Despite these attempts, God remains in the thoughts of people as a great God, even amongst those who do not serve Him and to the frustration of the “New Atheists” who are pushing the evolution theories.
We do not believe in the big bang, we believe in the big “Great” God, the one who decreed that the universe be created and it was. Genesis 1:1
Build On Other Finishers
And this was their reply to us: ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the house that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished. Ezra 5:11 (ESV)
We build on the work of others today, those in the church who have gone on before.
We build on our ultimate foundation, Jesus Christ, who finished the work He came to do, like the great king of Israel, Solomon. 1 Corinthians 3:11
We also build on the foundation laid by the prophets (old testament) and Apostles (new testament). This foundation is the bible. Ephesians 2:20
We also build on the work of the church councils, the early church fathers, the reformers, the puritans, the missionaries and Christian leaders of the past. Hebrews 6:12
We do not need to spend large amounts of time reinventing the wheel. For example, the council of Nicaea in 325 AD, defined the nature of the Trinity, this is now settled in the church and does not need to be revisited, the foundation is laid. Titus 2:1
Paul warns us to be careful how we build because our work will be tried. 1 Corinthians 3:12–15
Moreover, I make a decree regarding what you shall do for these elders of the Jews for the rebuilding of this house of God. The cost is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue, the tribute of the province from Beyond the River. Ezra 6:8 (ESV)
God is sovereign over the rulers of this world and like a master chess player, He moves and positions them to fulfil His purpose. God moved on the heart of the great king Darius to support the rebuilding of the temple.
The King makes a decree which is a reflection of and is ultimately backed up by the decree of the true king, God.
This should encourage our faith today that God’s government sits over the governments of the world. As in this account, God can move the government to support the work of the church without restrictive stipulations.
In verse 10 we can see that one of the king’s motivations was that he wanted prayers to be said for him and his family, see 1 Timothy 2:2.
The Decree of God
And the elders of the Jews built and prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. They finished their building by decree of the God of Israel and by decree of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia; Ezra 6:14 (ESV)
When God decrees something, it will come to pass and we can be 100% assured of that. God’s decreed will can never be derailed, it is that which He predestined and actively brings to pass, this includes both prophecy and our own salvation as God’s chosen people.
In the comments on 1 Chronicles 11:3 (here), we looked at the difference between God’s decreed will and His commanded (desired) will.
1 John 3:19–24
God Is Over Our Hearts
for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:20 (ESV)
Whatever God decrees, supersedes what we feel or even think. We can have assurance in God because God has said so in His word. God knows everything and whatever He decrees trumps everything else.
We should take assurance from this truth today, even if our hearts condemn us, we know that we belong to God.
and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 1 John 3:22 (ESV)
We can boldly ask God and receive from Him, if we know we are keeping His commands and pleasing Him with our faith. Ask today and receive in faith.
And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 1 John 3:23 (ESV)
This is not a decree, but a command that we have the responsibility to fulfil. This is the summary of Christian belief and practise.
We cannot fulfil this without the Holy Spirit, which John mentions in the next verse. The Holy Spirit living in us, is evidence that we belong to God.
The Covenant of Love
For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love. Psalm 106:45 (ESV)
God keeps covenant not just because of obligation, but because of His love.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on 1 John 3