BACK TO THE HEART OF THE WORSHIP
There was a song by Matt Redman that is titled, “The Heart of Worship.” This was a simple song of how the core essence of worship is simply about God. When we worship something or someone, we are in that moment declaring that this object of worship is worthy of praise and honor. When we worship the Lord, we are declaring that He is worthy of all the praise, honor, glory, affection and attention! When we worship the things of this world whether it be celebrities or trends, we only worship them for a period of time till the next big thing comes, so that the worship of these things have an expiration date because the worthiness that they once had fades with time.
God’s glory does not fade.
His worthiness does not fade.
Therefore when it comes to the worship of God, the worship should never stop but must be ongoing and therefore when it comes to heaven, the idea of worshipping God for all eternity makes sense. Does this mean that we are going to be in an unending worship set? I don’t think so because to limit the worship of God to just singing songs is missing the point because worship of God is not just singing to God but ultimately enjoying God to the fullest extent. When God is the object of our worship and we pursue and ever growing relationship with Him, that lifestyle of worship brings with it joy, restoration, wholeness, and goodness. When God is no longer the center of worship, we then see the brokenness of the world through sin. When things of this world become the center of worship, chaos and brokenness is produced as the world cannot function without God in the center of it all.
In our new series on Ezra, the people of God are coming out of exile and judgment to go back home to restore the place of worship that was burnt down because of their failure to keep God in the center view of worship. We shall see that the temple being rebuilt is more than a building project but that it is an act of putting God back at the center of the lives of God’s people.
NOTES ON THE TEXT
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:
The prophetic words that Jeremiah proclaimed, needed to be fulfilled. As much as the words of judgment were proclaimed, Jeremiah also proclaimed the heart of God to restore His people, this is now the time of that restoration. About seventy years have passed since the destruction of Jerusalem and God is now moving in the heart of an unlikely instrument of grace when God stirs up the heart of the Persian King to start the restoration project of the temple of God.
The Persian king is not the king that destroyed Jerusalem as that was at the hands of the Babylonians but in that time period of the exile, the kingdom in power has shifted away from the Babylonians to the Persians. As stated in the past, God can, has, and will use the most unlikely of sources to carry out His will and this is the common grace that ALL people have in the world. Everyone can experience God but not everyone will be intimate with God! To gain intimacy with God and know the deeper things of His heart requires a commitment to Him. The Persian king does not know God intimately as he only knows God as one of the gods that he believes but that whether you are God’s people or not, the experience of common grace is available to all.
What is common grace? An example of common grace is that everyone is still alive whether they know God or not. That everyone gets to breathe air and experience the sunrise or sunset. That everyone can to a certain degree experience supernatural encounters with Him whether they know that it is Him or not. The sun rises and sets on both the evil and the good according to the word of God but only a few will know true goodness that is from the Lord because few will choose to live the path of seeking God’s face intimately in worship.
Cyrus the King of Persia, is a person that has the common grace of God but does not know God, yet that will not stop God from using Him to carry out His will for His people.
2 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem.
To rebuild the house of the Lord is to rebuild the temple, which is the place of worship. At first glance, this may not seem as much to us because we don’t have the same attachment or knowledge of the temple that the original hearers of this word had. To rebuild the temple was to rebuild the place of worship and center God back into their lives. The realization is that restoration can only start when God’s presence is cherished. This is a strong theme in the book of Ezra in that the lack of worship of living in accordance to God’s ways is what allowed sin to come in and cause chaos but that the flip side of allowing God to be the center is what will restore things back to the way they ought to be. Restoration begins when we realize that it is God not at the center of our lives that was the problem and that we need to put God back to His rightful place in our lives permanently!
Restoration begins with renewed relationship with the Lord. I cannot say this enough, God MUST be the center of all our passions, desires, and pursuits for there to truly be joy in it that will last for eternity. Notice that last statement of eternity. We can experience joy apart from an intimate relationship with Him but it will not be true joy that last for eternity, it will only last for a moment. There is a life that is but a moment but there is life that is everlasting when God is in the center and therefore today, don’t settle for a moment of joy or a one life but settle for the everlasting versions of those things and that can only happen when our relationship with God is the most important thing in our lives.