Rebuilding the Church Born in Babylon….USA
“Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth year of the seventh month of the king. (458 B.C.)
He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month,
For the gracious hand of his God was on him.
For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.”
Ezra 7: 8-10
When Cyrus of Persia conquered the Babylonians, the Jews, who had been in exile in Babylon for 70 years, were allowed to return to rebuild the Temple, the City, and the Walls of Jerusalem and repopulate their homeland. (538 B.C.)
Interestingly enough—most Jews chose to stay in Babylon.
The journey back to Jerusalem was dangerous, difficult and demanded personal sacrifice. The journey required a 4-month trek around the mountainous, rocky, Syrian Desert; a path paralleling the Euphrates River while heading North up to Aleppo, then heading back South through Hamath, Damascus, and continuing South to Jerusalem. The countryside was in ruins, robbers abounded, and the people were hostile.
Born in Babylon, many Jews in captivity had become comfy captives.
Records reveal that many Jews, while exiled in Babylon, had accumulated great wealth, status, “stability” and “security.” “Who could ask for more?”
Returning to Jerusalem, in obedience to God’s Covenant relationship, would be costly—so the majority of Jews stayed in Babylon;
But, not all of them.
Zerubbabel led the first hearty souls back in 538 B.C. under king Cyrus’ initial decree. These folks started to rebuild The Temple and the city, but ran into opposition from the pagan folks in the land. The pagans wanted to help build The Temple. You can’t partner with pagans to build a Temple to the One and Only God. Yikes ! These pagans worshiped any and everything…so to them, The God of the Jews, was just another ecumenical One World “CoExist” movement. The Jews declined the offer and this did not settle so well with the idol worshippers.
It still doesn’t.
Despite 20 years of pagan opposition, the Jews,–with reliance on prayer, God’s provision, wise leadership, personal sacrifice, and perseverance– did rebuild The Temple. But the walls were still in ruin.
Without Walls, Watchmen, and iron domes the city has no protection.
Thus enters Ezra. Ezra was a scribe, a priest, a teacher, envoy, and most of all, –he was committed to obeying The Laws of God in his own life. In 458 B.C., eighty years after Cyrus decreed the Jews could return and rebuild, the Persian king Artaxerxes and his seven advisers, permitted Ezra and any Jews wishing to return, to go back to Jerusalem. This Persian king, and his officials, clearly had respect for Ezra, and Ezra’s God.
“And you, Ezra, in accordance with the wisdom of your God, which you possess, appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people of Trans-Euphrates—all who know the laws of your God.
And you are to teach any who do not know them.
Whoever does not obey the law of your God and the law of the king
Must surely be punished by death, banishment, confiscation of property, or imprisonment.”
This is an interesting example of Administrators who recognize, fear and honor God, in contrast to those Administrations who do not fear, recognize or honor God.
Ezra and his small group gather to return, keenly cognizant of the dangers of the trek. Having told the king of the greatness of God, they sure did not want to demean this truth by asking the king for soldiers to protect them on the treacherous path. So, Ezra proclaimed a fast, so that the travelers would humble themselves before God, clarifying their complete dependence on Him, and prayed for God’s protection along the journey. “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayers.”
When Ezra and those with him arrived in Jerusalem, they carried out the letter of The Law regarding the donated items for The Temple and worshiped God there. Something they had never been able to do before.
The Temple had been rebuilt, yet, the city itself was still incomplete and without a wall of protection, because the people needed to be restored.
Before the wall of the city could be rebuilt, the people needed to clear out the adultery of their own lives.
Even though the first wave of returning Jews did not allow the pagans to help rebuild The Temple, somewhere along the way, they began to intermarry with the pagans. The Law was and still is very specific about this. This was and is not an ethnic racial prejudice issue; it is a spiritual one.
Believers are not to be unequally yoked with non-believers.
If you’ve ever watched two unequally yoked oxen try to plow a field or pull a cart, you know, it does not work.
A person who married a pagan was inclined to adopt pagan practices including idolatry and child sacrifice. If they couldn’t stand firm in this obedience to God’s Law, they would continue the spiritual adultery that had landed them in Babylon in the first place. As the Wife of Jehovah, The Jews were to have no other God but God.
As the betrothed Bride of The Messiah, the Church is also not to be partnering with pagan anti-God governments to do her “righteous acts”.
The Church cannot be on the receiving end of government grants, favors, credits, and non-profit status, and expect not to be drawn into the spiritual adultery.
Faith Based Initiatives, including churches, schools, colleges, universities and the multitudes of Para- church organizations, are now drawn into the pagan pollution of the land via:
School Choice Voucher Scholarships, Financial aid, loans, grants, etc.
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA),
Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA),
Affordable Healthcare Act –Nationalized Healthcare “Obamacare”,
Forced housing of illegal-immigrants,
ESL (English as a Second Language) and migrant health and education programs,
Government Preschool Programs,
Foreign Exchange Student Programs,
Foster Care programs, Abstinence Programs, Adoption programs,
Disaster Relief programs, …and the list goes on in which the church has partnered with the anti-God government for favored non-profit tax exemption status, grants and contract work.
Growing up in Babylon USA, has left many in the church lacking the Word of God by which to recognize the patterns, principles and adulteries, both physical and spiritual, that keep repeating for lack of some Ezras, Abrams, or Pauls in our midst.
Babylon or Sodom.
“The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”
“But Abram said to the king of Sodom,
“I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth,
and have taken an oath that
I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or a thong of a sandal,
so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’”
Ezra was born in Babylon, he did not have the choices that the church has had in the United States of America. Yet, he knew The Law, and God honored his obedience to it, despite his circumstances. The Walls of Jerusalem could not be rebuilt until the people were taught the Laws and obeyed them. Which they did. The people repented, put away the pagan relationships, rebuilt the Walls and rededicated themselves to The LORD and to the study and observance of His Laws.
The Apostle Paul is clear that we, as the Church, the Betrothed Bride of Christ, must do the same as we build our temple.
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?
Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-16
As churches, para church organizations, and faith based initiatives become more and more yoked with pagan governments and pagan practices it has become obvious that He is not walking in the midst of most of them. Yet, the deadly doublespeak continues to compromise, neutralize and adulterize the true messages of The Church, by mere association.
These are trying times to be a remnant in your own land sorely lacking Godly leadership, fortified Walls, secure borders, or observance to traditional The Rule of Law. We best get back to:
“Devoting ourselves to the study and observance of The Law of the LORD and to teaching it in the land.”
Out of reverence for God, the future of our children and that of “the pagans.”
www.cwfpac.com Gary Bauer’s Campaign for Working Families