What Does Revival Look Like? Ezra Has the Answer
I've really been enjoying the Old Testament book of Ezra in my daily Bible reading. It is a hopeful story that has plenty of application today. Israel had been in captivity in Bible, and as the story opens up, God decides to move in the heart of the Persian king to send the Jewish people back to their ancestral homeland of Israel.
Plenty of people talk about revival, and hopefully many are praying for it — either in their own personal lives or in the life of their country. What does revival look like? The Book of Ezra gives us a nice little outline of some of the key things that take place.
The first thing I notice in chapters one and two is that there is still a faithful remnant! The nation had been destroyed and carted off into a foreign land into captivity. While there was some assimilation, by and large the Jews retained their identity. God still has a remnant, even after all the war and slavery.
He keeps His promises through disasters, and He does not need the muscle of large crowds or popular celebrities to get His work done. He uses a faithful remnant ... whether it's a faithful 300 of Gideon and his warriors or lonely prophets like Elijah or Jeremiah ... or just 12 Apostles.
The captives from Judah had a memory about their nation. They knew that the one true God had made a covenant with them, that they were to keep His law and bear His name to the nations. And they knew that they had spent 70 years in captivity because of their rebellion.
They knew who they were, where they belonged, what their future with God would be, and what to do for Him and themselves. If you know this God of the Bible as Ezra did, you can too, even surrounded by destruction as the Jews were when they made it back to Jerusalem.
The remnant got to work! In chapter 3 of Ezra you see that the first things the Jews did was rebuild the altar in order to properly worship God. It would make sense to some people to look after their own personal safety and rebuild the walls around Jerusalem first. But no, these people of faith knew that worship of God comes first.
And so they continued rebuilding the Temple, laying the foundation. If the foundation is wrong, the rest of the building can't be right. I have told my kids for years, "the house you are building today is what you're going to live in tomorrow." Make sure you are using good materials and build solid foundational truth for your life. And make worship of the Lord every day a priority.