Celebrating Victories

Key Verse: “The children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy.”
—Ezra 6:16

Lesson Scripture:
Ezra 6:13-22

IT HAD BEEN NEARLY twenty years since Cyrus, King of Persia, had issued the proclamation that the Jews return to their homeland and rebuild their house of the Lord, their Temple which had been destroyed by the Babylonian armies. Almost miraculously, the rebuilding work was now done, and the Temple was finished. It had not been an easy task. In fact, if not for the leadership of Jeshua the priest and Zerubbabel the head of the tribe of Judah, and the encouragement of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, the work most likely would not have been completed. As Ezra states, “The elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo.”—Ezra 6:14

How true it is that any undertaking we may engage in for the service of God, we are not sufficient of ourselves to complete the task. We, as Israel did, must look to our spiritual leaders, Jesus and his apostles, for encouragement and strength to accomplish the work he would have us do. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.” (II Cor. 3:5) Even in the day-to-day experiences of life; we must rely on God’s help through prayer and supplication to him. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16) The great Apostle Paul realized this in his own life. When speaking of the weakness of his eyesight, he was reminded by the Lord, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”—II Cor. 12:9

The Key Verse of our lesson points out that all those Jews who had returned from the captivity joined in the dedication of this rebuilt Temple. No doubt the ceremonies surrounding this dedication were on a much smaller scale than those which had taken place over four hundred years earlier when Solomon dedicated their first Temple. However, for this remnant of faithful Jews, the event was one of great joy, thanksgiving, and reflection upon what they had been able to accomplish with the Lord’s help. As God’s providence would have it, the completion and dedication of this rebuilt Temple coincided with the first month of the Jews’ religious year, and so it is stated that “the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the fourteenth day of the first month. … And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the Lord had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria [Persia] unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”—Ezra 6:19,22

How important it is that God’s people of today, the followers of Christ, also rejoice in dedicating their lives to God. The church is spoken of as God’s dwelling place, his temple. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?” (I Cor. 3:16) Being in this symbolic ‘temple’ condition, we too should continually feast upon the Lord, partaking of his Truth, his example, his words, his character. Israel kept a seven-day feast, seven signifying completeness or perfection. Our feasting upon the Lord is each day, with our entire life represented as being the complete ‘sevenday’ feast. “Let us keep the feast, … with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”—I Cor. 5:8

Dawn Bible Students Association
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