Ezra: A Story about Revival

EZRA
is a book about
REVIVAL
in which God is
RESTORER.

God the Restorer
– Centering in Ezra and Nehemiah, the Jews experience a restoration of almost every aspect of life you can name: their temple, worship, godly marriage—in Nehemiah, their capital—and in more recent history, their nation and language. It is God who “makes all things new.” (Rev. 21:5)
– In fulfillment of a prophetic word, “the LORD stirred” first Cyrus the pagan king, and then many others who would return and rebuild the temple. The temple is the center of Ezra’s story and represents a rebuilding from nothing of the religious life of an entire nation.

Ezra the Scribe: No Revival Without Reformation
– Since Ezra was a scholar of God’s law, he makes many references to other Old Testament books, including forgotten commandments that were beginning to be followed again (e.g., 7:10).
– “It is the rediscovery of these cardinal doctrines that has led to revival.” (Lloyd-Jones)

Ezra the Scribe: Starting Small
– Almost every chapter of Ezra contains a list, letter, or numerical account, since he was a scribe.
– Fundamental to revival is the worth of the individual to God; Francis Schaeffer put it this way: “there are no little people; there are no little places.”

Praying Big
– All of the Scriptural stories of revival, including Ezra’s, involve national awakenings with global implications.
– The vision of any revival should always be bigger than the revival itself.

Responding to Opposition
– In 4:16, the enemies of this revival show that they see its weighty implications.
– Opposition should encourage us that we are doing something powerful.

Return to Unity & Worship
– Uncommon unity (3:1, 10:12) and uncommon prayer (8:23) are the two activities that Pratney says always mark revival.
– Ezra’s repentance and confession (chs. 9 and 10) on behalf of his nation brought them face to face with their sin against a holy God.

Revival is Newfound Obedience
– Finney’s definition of revival is “newfound obedience to God.”
– The key idea in revival is that we begin to take responsibility for both our walk with God and those around us.
“Arise, for this… is your responsibility… Be of good courage, and do it.” (10:4)

Book Recommendations:
While there is a wealth of material on the history of revival in general, I recommend starting with Winkie Pratney’s book Revival.
On the inner workings of revival, I recommend Finney’s Lectures on Revival as well as his autobiography.

References in Ezra:
Jeremiah (Ezra 1:1)
Moses (3:2, 6:8)
David (3:10)
Haggai (5:1, 6:14)
Zechariah (5:1, 6:14)

Revival Language in Ezra (NKJV):
“…the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia…” 1:1
“Then…with all whose spirits God had moved…” 1:5
“Then the heads of the fathers’ houses…arose to go up and build…” 1:5
“Now these are the people…who returned to Jerusalem…” 2:1
“Then Jeshua…and Zerubbabel…arose and built the altar…” 3:2
“Now…Zerubbabel…and the rest…began work…” 3:8
“So Zerubbabel…and Jeshua…rose up and began to build the house of God…” 5:2
“And the descendants…kept the Passover…” 6:19
“And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread…” 6:22
“…for the LORD… turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them…” 6:22
“Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it” 7:10
“Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it diligently be done…” 7:23
“So I was encouraged…” 7:28
“…grace has been [shown] from the LORD…that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.” 9:8
“…Yet our God…extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to reviveus, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.” 9:9
“…and let it be done according to the law.” 10:3
“Now therefore, make confession to the LORD… and do His will…” 10:11

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