Road to Restoration

Restoration: Our Ruins His Restoration  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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God created the world and a garden to dwell with his people.

Genesis 2:8 “8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.”
The story The Narrative begins with God, the creator making everything good.
He is the author of the story.
He commissioned, Humanity,
to cultivate and flourish and then we find humanity in a paradise. in God's presence.
They are provided for
their commission to work to live,
to reproduce to flourish,
they actually experienced the presence of God with them in the garden on a regular basis. Look up ruins. It doesn't need to be restored.
That's Paradise. That's like destination. Like, let's go back to that.
But Adam and Eve reject God’s rule and rebel against God and they refuse to live under God’s reign.
They end up in ruins, separated form God, separated for each other.
They end of separated form the Joy of Life and end up living in destruction and death.
God banished them from the realm of life.
But he does not leave them alone.

God relates to His chosen people through covenants.

Bible scholarTheologian, Professor Dr. Bruce walk. He says it this way, says, “The Bible is aboutGod bringing glory upon himself by restoring Paradise after Humanity, lost it through the loss of faith in God, that led to Rebellion against his rule.
Cliff Notes version. God's bringing himself Glory by saving people who are wicked and rebellious.”
In this in God's saving, his people in pursuing his people, we learn that we worship a covenant making and a covenant keeping God and God
Covenants are unique, a gift ofGod of the Universe that he gave to a specific people.
No other religion or culture claims this, that God has made promises that he will save His people.
Sometimes these covenants are conditional,
to his people’s keeping the ethical obligations he imposes upon them.
Other times I AM obligates himself to the covenant unconditionally.
In all of the following covenants, and in times of blessing and discipline it is I AM guiding history providentially.
The OT Covenants were unfolded over time to the people of Israel. (Waltke 148)
To Eve he obligated himself to give her an offspring who would crush humankind's adversary.
Genesis 3:15 “15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.””
To Noah, because he proved himself faithful, he promised unconditionally never again to destroy the earth.
Genesis 9:8-13 “8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”
To Abraham, because he too obeyed God, he promised unconditionally to give him an eternal seed and land.
Genesis 15:5-21 “5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. 7 And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not…”
As the cosmic drama continued, God chose a weak little nation, Israel, who were enslaved to a bigger, stronger nation, and He liberated them from slavery. Then He brought them into what amounted to another little garden on the stage, a land He had promised to them.
God meant for the little nation to fill the stage with His glory. On the way He had them build a tabernacle, then a temple. These were intended to be small-scale replicas of the whole theater. Temple and tabernacle symbolized the world (Ps 78:69). To show what He will do in the whole theater, God filled tabernacle and temple with His glory.
Through the mediation of Moses, God obligated himself conditionally to bless Israel.
Exodus 19:4-6 “4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.””
To David, also because of his prior demonstration of faith, he unconditionally covenanted to give an eternal house, kingdom, and throne.
2 Samuel 7:11-16 “11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’ ””
Ezra/Nehemiah built the restored Jewish commonwealth on these covenants.
Israel through the prophets expected that Israel’s history will culminated in a greater epoch,
which they often referred to as “in that day.”
In that day Israel’s covenant keeping King, I AM,
promises to restore his universal rule through his covenant people.
to bring about all the promises of theses covenants,
these covenants culminate in the New Covenant.
They all have their purpose in and point toward Christ.
Through Jeremiah and other prophets,
God indebted himself unconditionally to make a new covenant
whereby Israel would obey God from their hearts
and so meet the obligations of the Mosaic covenant and be blessed.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 Page 784 “31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.””
Isaiah foretold that an anonymous, obedient servant, whom the New Testament identifies with Jesus the Messiah,
would effect this New covenant by his life, death, and resurrection.
In that day, the prophets announced all people will worship God on Mount Zion, learn his law, and beat their swords into plow tips.
God’s people failed. Miserably. Just as God had done with Adam and Eve, He banished Israel from the little part of the stage He had given to them. When He banished them, to get at the significance of what was happening, their little replica of the whole theater was torn down. They were taken into captivity in Babylon.
As the plot had rolled toward that climactic moment when God finally threw them out, Israel’s prophets started to promise that just as God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt before, so He would save them again after He drove them out of the land. They promised a new exodus.
They promised that just as God and Israel came to an agreement at Mount Sinai, Israel would once again welcome God’s terms (Hos 2:14–23). They prophesied a new covenant (Jer 31:31–34).

God’s chosen people rebel and God sends them into captivity.

he people of Israel were not faithful to the covenants, which led to captivity
I Chronicles 9:1 “1 So all Israel was recorded in genealogies, and these are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel. And Judah was taken into exile in Babylon because of their breach of faith.”
a. According to I and II Chronicles, Israel’s history is one of either seeking God or forsaking him.
i. Seeking God. Serving God with a whole heart and doing right in His eyes.
1. Orienting one’s life toward him in active faith and obedience
2. To be diligent in fulfilling the commands of the mosaic law,
3. To oppose idolatry
4. And to support and participate in the authorized worship of the temple.
5. Seeking God who grants mercy as we approach him in faith, repent, and offer sacrifices.
ii. The results of seeking God
1. Large families
2. Successful building projects
3. Riches and honor
4. Military strength and success
5. Peace in the land.
What does Forsaking God looked like:
Apostasy and idolatry, the neglect and abuse of the
temple and its institutions
Despising the word of the prophets
Egregious violence
Refusal to seek reconciliation to God through sacrifices of atonement and humble prayer.
The results of forsaking God
1. Defeat and being looted by foreign enemies.
2. Sickness and death for disobedient individuals.
3. Forfeiture of the land and exile of the people.
b. The Israelites did forsake God and refused to listen to the prophets.
i. Babylon invaded Israel in 605 B.C. destroyed Jerusalem in 586 and deported many of its leading people to settlements near Babylon. This was the end of the Davidic monarchy and the end of Judah as a nation-state.
ii. Babylon fell in 538 B.C. to the Persians under Cyrus II.
Persia permitted exiled people groups to return to their lands.
Groups of exiles from Judah including priests and civil leaders, returned in 538 B.C., but the temple was not completely rebuilt until 516 B.C..
This initial restoration was followed by those who returned in 458 B.C. with Ezra, and Nehemiah who arrived as a governor in 445.

After the allotted time of punishment ends, God’s chosen people comeback to Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 25:10-14 Page 776 “10 Moreover, I will banish from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the grinding of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the Lord, making the land an everlasting waste. 13 I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. 14 For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them, and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.””
He threw them out. They were taken from the part of the stage identified with the good guys to the part of the stage where the bad guys had their stronghold: Babylon.[1]
[1]Hamilton, J. M., Jr., Platt, D., Akin, D. L., & Merida, T. (2014). Exalting jesus in ezra-nehemiah (pp. 3–5). Holman Reference.
Three people/ three projects:

Zerubbabel rebuilds the Temple

Ezra restores the Torah

Ezra is the new moses that leads the second , but not final exodus .

Nehemiah rebuilds the Wall

Three Story Arcs

Hope and Despair.

Everything was set, but hope turns into despair.
Not everyone goes. only 3 out of 12 tribes head back.
The Temple was started but had to be stopped because of outside opposition.
Then when it was finished it was a let down, because it was not as grand as Solomon’s Temple.
There was hope when Ezra reestablished the law, but several decades later the Israelites were falling into the same sins as before.
What happened, what happened to all that the prophets hade prophesied.

Yet and Not yet

The theme of promise and fulfillment runs through the OT narrative from Genesis to Kings [or Genesis through Ezra-Nehemiah],
as Yahweh keeps declaring his will and fulfilling it.
Yet each such event makes Israel look the more to the future for this pattern of experience to continue,
so that each fulfillment in the past becomes a promise for the future.
The OT is thus a book of ever-increasing anticipation, a story moving towards a goal which lies beyond itself.
What we see that at each juncture God is keeping His promises.
He is loving His chosen people,
but everything they are seeing was to lead them to long for something greater.
A greater presence of God. (Not the Temple, but Christ)
A greater covenant (no the mosaic, which only brings judgement and death, but the new covenant which brings,,
A greater king, not an infallible king that can sin, but a perfect king.
Everything that God was giving, was to make them long for something greater, something that was not yet there.
Now and Not Yet: Theology and Mission in Ezra-Nehemiah (Ezra-Nehemiah in Relation to Biblical Theology)
The unexpected addition of Nehemiah 13, though, informs the reader that the execution of Cyrus’ decree did not mark the full accomplishment of God’s redemptive plan. The city of God may now be a viable entity, but the new Jerusalem of Ezra-Nehemiah did not fully match the New Jerusalem of Isaiah 60; 62; Zechariah 14 and Revelation 21–22. It was only a foretaste. Sin in Ezra-Nehemiah’s Jerusalem indicates that more work is required to attain the ideal of these other prophecies as well as everything Yahweh had in mind when he stirred Cyrus’ heart.

Renewal and Regression

this book iusually preached durimg abuilding campaign or at a leadesship summit
it does have leadership principles but it is about more than that
This is where we enter the story
Reformation Happens
We look around and see the ruins in our life. It is not what we want. We see this cycle in Ezra /Nehemiah (Jeff vanderstelt)
Recognition -
renewal requires acknowledging. That what currently is, is not what should be What is a recognition piece?
I see things as they are I would like them to be different. Is it called back to God? The person who brought life into it to begin with.
We find ourselves amongst ruins.
A bad test result form the Doctor.
A family problem arises or is getting worse.
Our finances are more famine than feast..
We have to go and buy new pants.
We had it thats enough we need to change.
Return -
Let's go back to the source of joy in life.
Lets return under the reign of God,
instead of ruling my own life in my own way.
We repent and promise to do things differently.
Renewal -
where you're called forward to obedience to put in place prescribed practices that God has given us to obey.
He say, arrange your life like this and it can lead to flourishing.
We eat better, we exercise.
We make a commitment to church
We make a commitment to read and pray.
We make changes and live as God wants us to live.
Results -
were there actually is, renewal
where there is reformed
where there is resolution
when people begin to experience newness and resolve to live life differently
We see results.
Thats sin seems to be less of an issue.
The relationship with the family is getting better.
My pants are fitting a little looser.
Things seem to go well and your celebrate.
Regression -
But what you see is no matter how how effective these leaders are
at leading the people of God through these cycles.
Recognition, Returning renewal,
There is always Regression
The sins and the struggles of the past begin to pop up like weeds in your garden of life. Sucking the energy and the Betty of a reformed life.
This series is not about what we can accomplish renewal and restoration by ourselves or even together
but this series is about what has to be accomplished for us not by us
The story of Ezra and Nehemiah is about how we recognize that we live amongst the ruins and we need someone to come in and rescue us and point us to restoration.
That is Jesus.
The point of this story is to make us long for Jesus.

Only Christ can bring true restoration

Dr. Tim Mackie says it this way, he says, Unless God Spirit does something that we cannot ever coordinate or strategize or plan or bring about. We're dead in the water were just a structure…:
Think about a trellis and a vine. The trellis is not the growth but the vine grows, the trellis is just the structure that supports the fine as it grows. The trellis is not the goal, but it is important.
Dr. Tim Mackie Continues “but at the same time if we don't maintain theses structures and these rhythms to ground our identity in the Covenant story, we will not be a people ready to receive Revival when it comes.:
What we see in Ezra and Nehemiah is this.
Revival doe not come only through recognize our ruins, or by being apart of ac church, or by just studying more.
But ignore and neglect. All those and good luck actually having Revival happen in your life. Those are thetrellises that God uses the structure that God's uses to them, Breathe new life into you
we must have an experience with Christ who changes our heart, which changes everything else.
Christ breath new life into you. So as we dig into this story it should make us long for Jesus to change us, and then change our circumstances.
Ezra and Nehemiah point us not to better ourselves, but to long for Jesus.
What ruins are you living amongst.
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