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“Under the leadership of Ezra the priest, true worship was restored in Jerusalem and the reconstruction of the Temple was begun. Ezra understood that the true worship of God was foundational to the restoration of society, since man’s approach to God influences every other aspect of his thought and life. Even the fear of violence from the surrounding nations did not distract the people from their religious services, indicating the priority that was placed upon worship in their estimation (vs.3).

The restoration of true worship must be the priority of the Church if there is to be any hope of regaining her former glory and influence in the world. Worship is not a peripheral issue, but the central element of the Church’s identity and mission. Thus Ezra and the people set their hearts to restoring worship ‘according to the ordinance of David king of Israel.’

The restoration of true worship under Ezra provoked a mixed reaction among the people. The younger generation of returning captives was filled with joy at the commencement of restored worship, while the older generation wept with a loud voice because they had seen the glory of the former Temple. Their hearts were broken by the realization of what had been lost.

The restoration of true worship today should be accompanied not only by the joy that results from seeing God’s glory reestablished in the midst of the people, but also by a genuine and heartfelt sense of grief over the fact that the once-glorious worship has fallen into such a sad state of decline. This grief is a necessary part of true repentance. It should not, however, lead to despair but should give way to a lively hope that God will complete His work of restoration and glorify His name once more in the Church.

The older generation under Ezra was later rebuked for ‘despising the day of small things’ (Zech.4: 9-10). They doubted whether the former glories could ever be restored. They were assured that the eyes of the Lord rejoiced to see the work of rebuilding commence. God calls us to mourn over the results of our sin, but then to set our hearts to the task of reformation with joyful confidence in His power to complete His purposes in the midst of His people.” (Comin, 153-154)

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