Restore the Church (Ezra 10:1-44)
The Sungrak people encourage each other, “Let’s be one in hope and restore the church!” The phrase “restore the church” began when the descendants of Judah (who were slaves in Babylon) returned to Jerusalem and restored the temple and city walls. The return to Jerusalem took place in three phases, but the city walls were finally constructed about 90 years after the first phase of the return. When this long and rugged process was complete, it was not just an external change for Jerusalem.
1. The cause of the problem was not going to be found outside.
The Jews did not look for the cause of Jerusalem’s destruction in themselves. They blamed Babylon. However, God expected change from Jerusalem, not Babylon (since God momentarily used and threw them away like a rod). Earlier on, Jeremiah urged Jerusalem to repent, but the Jews only asserted their pride of being special and ultimately did not turn back.
2. Going back to past ways is not restoration.
The temple was constructed after the first phase of the return, but the construction of the city walls was hindered due to the gentiles’ opposition. 80 years later, Ezra led the Jews and arrived at Jerusalem. When Ezra witnessed the true state of the place, he was shocked to the point that he tore his beard. This was because the Jews who returned first went back to the way they were before Jerusalem was destroyed. They married foreigners, bore children, and were immersed in their customs.
3. Let’s be one in hope so that we can truly restore the church.
Though they gained the chance for restoration, the people wanted to go back to the past, and because of the people’s behavior, Ezra was ashamed to look to God. Nevertheless, the people became one in heart with Ezra and turned back. They finally decided to send away their foreign wives and children. Their inner change later turned into successfully constructing the city walls under Nehemiah’s guidance. Restoring the church is not a return to the past or restoring the outer appearance. Let’s all restore the church as the Lord desires.
April 25, 2021
Overseer Sung-Hyun Kim