The Gateway Church

in and around Kings Lynn, West Norfolk

Leading in the power

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20th Apr, 2020 Day 111

Ezra 3

ESV audio

If you think you are a leader (whether in the church or your workplace), look behind you. If no-one is following, you are just taking a walk. Good leaders have followers. Great leaders have leaders following, they are making more leaders!
Everyone is a leader in some form – we all have people following us; whether it be children, or a newbie at work or whether you are more defined as a leader.
In Ezra 3 we see that powerfully in action
v1 Seventh month came– its’ festival time
 It starts with the
  • Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah,
  • Day of Atonement – annual festival where the High Priest went into the Most Holy Place to make atonement for all the people’s sin,
  • Festival of Tabernacles, where they would stay in booths for 7 days to celebrate the harvest but remember the 40 years of Wilderness after being set free from slavery, which would end with a  prophetic re-enactment of Ezek 47. This is where the High Priest would pour a jug of water down a funnel in the altar to look forward to the day when the river of the Spirit would flow out bring healing and life. That’s the one where Jesus stood up and said Boys, I’m here. If you believe in me you will have a river of water flowing from you. He’s basically saying the days of a physical Temple, the shadow of what is to come are gone. The physical things like the Temple and the Land and the Law are all shadows of the greater realities the New Covenant has brought. We are now the Temple – the place of God’s dwelling on earth.
The 7th month is thus a hugely significant month to gather the people together.

Gathered as one man

Those 42,360 people gather as one. They are completely united in common purpose to worship in purity and with generous hearts. We are now one new man in Christ. In Ephesians we see that Jesus has removed the dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile and made a new people of God – where we Both have access to one Spirit to the Father. Ephesians 2:15 create in himself one new man in place of the two
God loves unity. Jesus died and rose again to destroy disunity and make unity. Unity is a work of the Spirit. The people in Ezra 2 and 3 had been stirred by the Spirit to go back and to come together as one man to worship.

Unity of the Spirit is important to God –

Ps133 Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.
I love how Ps 133 paints a picture of how great unity is – there’s anointing and refreshing.
In Jesus’ High Priestly prayer of John 17 there is much focus on being one together;
Eph 4:3 Paul urges his readers to be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
This whole thing is not institutional, it’s a God given impulse, a work of the Spirit. The Spirit inspires and empowers genuine unity, not a unity of the lowest common denominator of belief and practice. But around God’s word and the power of the Spirit.

1 Unity is around God given leadership

Verse 2 Then arose Jeshua Son of Jozdak… and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel
Jeshua is the priest and Zerubbabel is the king figure – a governor by name.
God gives leaders. Jeremiah promises after the exile…
I will give you shepherds after my own heartJer 3:15
Leadership is God given gift, not a democracy – Eph 4:11-16
Safe place Paul’s letter to Thessalonians, he asks the people to respect “those over you in the Lord”

What does their leadership look like?

Involved– they built v2; They set v3
Not just orators – Paul “what you see in me do” Arguably Paul wasn’t a great speaker, but he was someone to follow- he had Character to follow. Jesus came to serve not be served.
There’s a balance here of servant leadership that Jesus and Joshua and Zerubbabel model so well. Getting stuck in and doing. And of delegation that we will see in a few verses time.
Jeshua and Zerubabbel led under the authority of Scripture “as it is written” v2. Not just for fun! This is what God says, so we do it.
Encounters with God
Leaders need regular fresh encounters with God. Whether you are leading in church, leading in a Covid ward or ICU, a keyworker in a school or supermarket, frustrated furloughed worker or self-employed, or leading your children. We need Fresh oil from the Spirit, we need the prophetic to guide us.
Zerubbabel’s name means offspring of Babylon or more significantly pressed out of Babylon. Haggai prophecies over him twice. In Haggai 1”: 8 there is a general prophecy to go and build the temple and a criticism that the people are more focused on their own houses than God’s house. in v12 Zerubbabel grabs that prophecy for himself and obeys and Haggai declares God with Him and stirs His Spirit along with Jeshua.
Then later in Haggai 2:20-22 in another encounter Zerubbabel is chosen as the cygnet ring, the symbol of authority – He affirms that the Lord has chosen him for what he is doing.
Zechariah 4:6-7 declares that it is not by might, notify power, but by my Spirit and declares Grace, grace to what he is doing. Wow!
We need fresh encounters and the prophetic.
Then in v8, we see them
Developing and releasing younger leaders v8 the twenties are given the task of supervising the work. We must be releasing the next generation to get on with the job!
So unity is around God given leadership who are involved, who are getting fresh encounters with God and who develop and release younger leaders.

Unity around worship and enjoying God’s grace

The Burnt offering they gave was the sin offering to atone for their sin, to take their guilt away. It needed to be done daily and in a big way yearly on the day of atonement, because people sin a lot!
That of course points to the Cross, where Jesus once and for all made the perfect sacrifice.
Jesus died for your sin and rose again – the finished work of the cross provides forgiveness and grace all who believe in Him.
That wonder of atoning sacrifice prompted the freewill offerings – the offerings that are about thank you Lord! I worship you Lord because you have done so much for me.
As the chapter continues they carry on.
The people stand and shouted praise. Let’s read verse 10-13
Two types of people here  – Joy and shouting praise at what God is doing now and then the people who wept, because
it is “not like it used to be…”
Be careful if you are comparing with the past. e are not in the past, we are in a weird now! Embrace it and praise God in it.
Andy Moyle
ps it was a long one as it’s a recycled sermon 😉