I realize that this scripture verse in Ezra relates to the rebuilding of the temple by the Jewish people, but I want to connect it with a verse from I Corinthians. As I read Paul’s words in I Corinthians 6:19, he reminds me that I am not my own. Tying these two verses together I can say that I belong to the Holy Spirit and I am not to interfere with the work that the Holy Spirit is doing within me.
I brush up on a little biblical history and discover that the verse of Ezra 6:8 was part of a decree made by King Darius who reigned from 522-386 BC. A group of Jews led by Zerubbabel returned to Jerusalem in 538 BC and 2 years later they began to build the altar and temple foundation. In 530 BC construction halted because of opposition and it was not until ten years later that work resumed. It was during this time when no construction was taking place that King Darius issued the decree saying there was to be no interference with the work on the temple. The temple was finally completed in 516 BC. The primary reason the work was temporarily stalled was because the returning Jews had listened to the accusations and rumors by local pagan inhabitants.
Enough Old Testament history! I want to move on to connecting the dots with Paul’s words in the New Testament. It is sobering for me to think about how easily I can be influenced by accusations and rumors spoken by people around me who are not following the Lord. I can be like the Jews described by Ezra. If I have allowed worldly factors to influence my thoughts and actions, then I want to rebuild my body, soul and spirit to be a temple of the Holy Spirit. It is interesting to note that Ezra’s name means “help” and the Holy Spirit is often referred to as the Helper. Jesus says in John 16:7, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” Ezra’s role in the book of Ezra was as a priest who stood in the gap through prayer for the Jews. He encouraged them to turn from their pagan involvement. He helped them admit and confess their sins. When Ezra arrived in Jerusalem, the temple building had been rebuilt but he helped them to rebuild their lives. II Corinthians 5:17 declares, “we are new creations in Christ,” when we accept Jesus as our Savior. However, I still need the help of the Holy Spirit to rebuild my life so that I can daily live for the Lord.
Going back to the book of Ezra again, in his decree Darius says in Ezra 6:10 the reason for rebuilding the temple was, “so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons.” The temple was where the Jews presented their sacrifices to the Lord. Does this apply to me? Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.” The way I should live my life is to sacrifice, or lay aside, my own desires for God’s desires. Hebrews 13:15 instructs me, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” I want to be diligent, or careful and persistent, to make praise a priority in my life. This corresponds with the end of Ezra 6:12, “Let it (the rebuilding of the temple) be carried out with diligence.”
I am always amazed as to how words of Old Testament and New Testament scriptures can be connected. While thinking about Ezra and I Corinthians, I realize that I want to be a temple of the Holy Spirit and I do not want to interfere with the Spirit’s work in my life.