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Ezra and Nehemiah: Ezra 3:1-7

Ezra and Nehemiah: Ezra 3:1-7

 

Ezra 3 describes the rebuilding of the altar in Jerusalem and the reestablishment of the sacrificial system. This took place in the first seven months of the children of Israel’s return to Jerusalem. At the beginning of the second year of return, the foundation of the temple was rebuilt. This was an extremely important even that further proved the Lord was intent on dwelling among his people. Let’s read the first seven verses of chapter three.

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Ezra 3:1-7 When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, the people assembled as one man in Jerusalem. 2 Then Jeshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. 3 Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices. 4 Then in accordance with what is written, they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day. 5 After that, they presented the regular burnt offerings, the New Moon sacrifices and the sacrifices for all the appointed sacred feasts of the Lord, as well as those brought as freewill offerings to the Lord. 6 On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, though the foundation of the Lord’s temple had not yet been laid.

 

7 Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and gave food and drink and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so that they would bring cedar logs by sea from Lebanon to Joppa, as authorized by Cyrus king of Persia.

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In the Old Testament, the Lord provided very specific instructions regarding how and where he was to be worshiped. In particular, instructions for temple sacrifices provided certainty that the Lord would be present in a gracious way for his people, the sacrifices as he instructed would be acceptable to him, and their sins would be forgiven. In the same way, although God has not prescribed certain ceremonies or rituals for New Testament worship, we can be certain of the Lord’s gracious and forgiving presence among us when we gather in Christ’s name and also when we receive his Word and Sacraments.