Let's Get Going Again

Bible Book: Ezra  5 : 1-17
Subject: Building; Serving God; Service; Working for the Lord; Faithfulness

Ezra 5:1-17

Two men who lived in New York City decided that they had it with city living. So they bought a ranch down in Texas in order to live off the land like their ancestors. The first thing they decided they needed was a mule. So they went to a neighbouring rancher and asked him if he had a mule to sell for ploughing. The rancher answered, “No I am afraid not.” They were disappointed but one of them saw some honey dew melons stacked against the barn and asked, “What are those?” The rancher seeing that they were city slickers, decided to have some fun. “Oh,” he answered “those are mule eggs. You take one of those eggs home and you wait for it to hatch and you'll have a mule.” Well, the two men from New York were overjoyed at this so they bought one of the melons and headed down the bumpy country road toward their own ranch. Suddenly they hit a large bump on the road, and the melon bounced out of the back of the pickup truck, hit the road and burst open. Seeing what happened in his mirror the driver turned the truck around to see if he could retrieve his mule egg. Meanwhile a big old Texas jackrabbit came hopping by and saw this melon burst in the road. He hopped over to it and standing in the middle of that mess he began to eat. Then along came the men from New York. One of them shouted, “Our mule egg has hatched, let’s get our mule.” But seeing those two men run towards it, the jackrabbit took off hopping in every direction with the two men in hot pursuit. They gave everything they could to catch it but finally they could go no further. Gasping for breath one of them said to the other, “Well I guess we lost our mule.” The other nodded and said, “Yes, but you know, I am not sure I wanted to plough that fast anyway.”

Let me ask you as you begin this new session. How committed are you? It was Jonathan Edwards who said, “I go to preach with two propositions. First, every person ought to give his life to Christ. Second, whether or not anyone else gives Him his life I will give Him mine.” That’s commitment.

It was the Lord Jesus who said, “Father I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (Jn 17:4) That’s commitment.

Today, however commitment is a bad word especially in the local church.  I heard of a pastor who met one of his delinquent members and said, “ Well I haven’t seen you in church much lately.” “ No,”  he said, “  you know how it’s seen. The children have been sick, and then it’s rained, rained, and rained.”

The pastor said, “Well it’s always dry at church.”

“Yes,” he said “that’s another reason why I haven’t been coming.”

The mood of God’s people at this time was one of apathy and indifference. Can you imagine the scene at this building site in Jerusalem? Fifteen years have passed since any work has been done. The weeds and nettles have grown over the foundation of the temple, and the general impression is one of desolation and neglect. But then Darius 1 ascended the Persian throne and suddenly with the opening of (Ch 5) the scene changes dramatically with the emergence of two very powerful preachers. Do you know what in essence their message was? “ Let’s get going again.” For the first thing that strikes from this

passage, is …


“Then the prophets …. prophesied,” (5:1) Harry Ironside draws a picture of the biblical prophet when he says “ the true prophet is the one whose words come from heaven to men on earth, searching the heart, reaching the conscience and exposing the evil that may have come in.” Though preaching which requires study, is different from prophecy a direct message from God, Ironside’s words are a good  job description,” of the preacher’s task in these days. You see, the means that God used to get the work going again was the Word. My …. never underestimate the power of the faithful preaching of God’s Word. Charles Spurgeon said, “I cannot help feeling that the man who preaches the Word of God is standing, not on a mere platform, but on a throne.”

God’s people needed “stirring again,” and God raised up two men to faithfully minister the Word of God. (1) Notice,


For they prophesied “ in the name of the God of Israel.” (5:1)

They were sent from God, equipped by God, walking with God, and preaching for God. Now these two men Haggai and Zechariah were different. Haggai had his feet on the ground, Zechariah had his head in the clouds.

Haggai is pretty plain spoken. He has everything in black and white. Zechariah is more of a dreamer, for you’ll read about his visions for the future. But God used these preachers who were distinctly different to challenge His people to resume the work again.

The church always needs preachers with fearless courage who can inspire believers with far reaching vision for the cause of God. And in the local church there will often be a variety of spiritual leaders with a diversity of gifts that ought to be used for the building up of the saints. Stephen Olford used to say, that “God does not deal in duplicates he only makes originals.” Aren’t you glad about the different gifts that God has given to this church? Yet all will be unfruitful without the favor of God.


Look if you will at (Haggai 1-12)

If anyone during those fifteen odd years had raised the question,  Do you not think we ought to do something about starting work on God’s house again?” the people would have said, “Oh, the time is not right.” Then they would have come up with all sorts of excuses as to why the time was not right. You see, a spirit of apathy and indolence had crept over them from which they could not seem to rouse themselves, and so the work of God remained at a standstill. My …. this was not something unique to the Jews of that time. For most of my ministry I have heard different believers say, “It’s not a good time to be or do something for God.”

When the right time comes, then all will be different. But somehow, the right time never seems to come. Do you ever Christians talk like that in relation to their Worship?

Could it be that apathy has crept into your life? Perhaps you no longer attend public worship as regularly as once you did. Maybe you are not seen as often at the prayer meeting or the Bible Class. Could it be that you are no longer consistent in your personal prayer time and the reading of the Word? “ The time is not just right, the economy is bad, the family are demanding, I am just so tired.” Vance Havner said “An excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.” Are you full of excuses like this? “The time is not come.” Do you ever hear believers talk like that in relation to their Work? When you talk about evangelism and winning people to Christ, there are some who say, “It’s not the right time to do that. It’s hard to win folk to the Lord. We’re living in the last days. Wait till there is more unity in the assembly.”

My  .... is this not the way we talk? No, hurry about the Lord’s work, no urgency about prayer, plenty of time for soul-winning. I tell you if some Christian’s ran their business the way they run God’s work they would be out of business. The cults put us to shame with their enthusiasm and zeal and we stand among the ruins of the temple and say, “The time is not come.” Yet the Lord Jesus says, “Say not ye there are yet four months and then cometh harvest, behold I say unto you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields they are white already to harvest.”(Jn 4:35) This instruction from God’s Word


For the attitude of mind that paralyzed the workers and hindered the work was challenged by the servant of God.

Haggai chided them (Haggai 1:4) It was as if the Lord was saying to them, “You say the time is not right to build my house. But I notice you give plenty of time to building and refurbishing your own houses with decorative paneling and other extras.” Not that it was wrong in any sense for the people to furnish their homes tastefully, and to provide themselves with certain comforts. The point Haggai was making was that these things had taken over their lives and had become more important to them than the things of God. You see, their sense of priorities had become distorted, and as a result the Lord had withheld His blessing. (Haggai 1:5-6)

Someone has defined worldliness as “That state in which our thinking is governed by the mind and outlook of the world.” Is that not what happened in Paul’s day? Do you recall when he wrote to the church at Philippi? He spoke of young Timothy. He says, “I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own (interests) not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” (Phil 2:20-21)

As Paul looked around him in Rome the general run of believers were of that self-seeking spirit that degrades the Lord Jesus to second place. Living for time instead of eternity, living for self instead of for God, living for the temporal, instead of the eternal. Can that not so easily happen to us? Our homes and families, our jobs and careers, our interests and pleasures can all displace and jeopardize the work of God in our lives to the extent that the Lord Himself becomes marginalized. Is this, what has happened to you? Has your life become so cluttered with other things that the Lord is now secondary? Have you not time for reflection on the things of God? Has the Lord to compete with all these other things to get a foothold in your life? My …. are you beginning to see how relevant this instruction from God’s Word was?


Fifteen years go by between (Chapters 4 and 5) It’s not until the Word of God is proclaimed by Haggai and Zechariah, that the work of the temple begins again. The Word of God had begun the work (1:1) and now the Word of God would encourage the workers to finish the work. (6:14) You see, God’ servants not only challenged the people, but they encouraged the people. These two prophets who were sent by the Lord encouraged the Jews by reminding them of …

1. The Presence of God

“For I am with you, saith the Lord of Hosts.” (Haggai 2:4)

2. The Provision of God

“The silver is mine and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of Hosts.” (Haggai 2:8)

3. The Purpose of God

“the hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, his hands shall also finish it.” (Zech 4:9)

To outward appearances things may have been depressing indeed, but then with God all things are possible. Could it be that you are weary in the work of God? Is the cancer of discouragement ruling your life? You know, there are Monday mornings when I am ready to call it a day. There are Sunday nights when Sunday School teachers are ready to quit. Elders who grow weary of the constant moaning of the people. Deacons who are tired of their duties. Then the Word of the Lord comes to us and reminds us of,

4. The Presence of God

“I am with you.”

5. The Provision of God

“I laboured more abundantly than them all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Cor 15:10)

6. The Purpose of God

Though the powers of darkness assail, Christ will build His church.

Did you notice something else about this instruction …


Look if you will at (5:2) It is truly amazing how the Word of God can transform people. This discouraged and fearful people were changed into warriors who wielded trowels in the battle to build for the glory of God.

I mean they responded Promptly: In less than a month after Haggai had delivered his soul (Haggai 1:1, 14) they had resumed the work. My …. when God’s Word stirs you, do you obey promptly or are you merely a sermon taster, just a “ hearer of the Word.” (James 1:22)

They responded Properly: Zerubbabel, the civic leader, Jeshua the spiritual leader, take the initiative. Notice also the preachers weren’t afraid to dirty their hands. (5:2) Some pastors and elders think they are above getting their hands dirty.

When I was pastoring my first church in Carryduff, the assembly decided to buy a new manse. This was a kind of building project, for the whole house had to be gutted from top to bottom, so the men of the fellowship worked at night trying to make this a home for us. Of course I decided to give a hand. One night I was taking wallpaper off, but I’m not terribly gifted at working with my hands. You see, I was not only taking wallpaper off, I was taking plaster off also. One of the elders who was a builder and a bit of perfectionist stopped me. He said, “Denis, I will have to come round tomorrow and plaster that wall, for you have been digging holes in it.” He continued as he said to me, “Would you do me a favour and stick to the preaching.”

My …. are the leaders not to take the initiative and lead the work of God? (5:2) Do you see here the effect of God’s Word? The work resumed.

The preaching of Martin Luther brought about The Reformation.

The preaching of John Wesley produced a spiritual awakening in Great Britain.

The preaching of Haggai and Zechariah stirred the people of God to resume the work of God.


Notice that telling statement in (5:3), “ At the same time.”

Immediately we suspect that the same old enemy is still at work. As a Persian official, Tatnai was concerned about what the Jews were doing in Jerusalem. No doubt he was well within his rights, for it was his responsibility to protect the interests of King Darius and the welfare of the empire and see to it that peace and security were maintained. Yet I believe it was Satan working behind scenes for when God works, Satan immediately counterworks. So there was…


Did you notice that the investigation focused on two questions?

(1) “ Who gave you the authority to do this?”

(2) “ What are the names of the men working on the building?” (5:3-4)

Isn’t it interesting to observe that there was no opposition to the Jews all through those years when they were building their own houses, and pursuing their own interests, but immediately they start rebuilding the house of God, the Devil shows his hand.

Do you know something? If you as a believer settle down in this old world, and love the temporal rather than the eternal, the things of time, rather than the things of God, the Devil will leave you alone. But the moment you are “ stirred,” by the Word of God to do the work of God, you’ll feel the heat of opposition. You see, Satan never gives up in his efforts to frustrate the ongoing work of God in the world. Do you recognize that? Or have you fallen into the trap of thinking that you are finished with the Devil because you gained a victory over him at some time?

My …. Satan never gives up. He will always come back to attack. We are in a constant battle with the forces of evil at work in this world.

As Peter Williams reminds us “That battle goes from one circumstance to another, from age to age and from generation to generation.” It will never cease until the final battle, when the Lord Jesus comes in power and great glory and destroys the Devil and all his works. That’s why Peter urges us, “Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet 5:7)

There was,


Aren’t the “buts,” of the Bible important? “But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease ….,” (5:5)

You see, when you are sent by the Word of God, and when you are under the care of the eye of God, you can be sure that work of God is going to get down. “ But the eye of their God was upon …. them,” that suggests that it was …

1. God that Prompted them

Not only to commence the work, (1:5) but to continue the work (5:2) Here were people working in the realization that the eye of eternity was upon them. The psalmist says, “ the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” (34:15) I have no doubt that those who compete in sports at world level, like the Olympic Games are inspired by the gaze of the applauding multitudes. Does that not bring the best out of the athlete? My …. does the thought of God’s all seeing eye upon you, not inspire you to greater heights, incite you to greater efforts, encourage you to greater service?

2. God that Protected them

Stan Evers tells us that “ the reference to ‘ the eye of God,’ may be a ‘ play on words because the Persian civil inspectors were known at that time as “ the king’s eye.”’

Oh, they had a earthly eye on them, but they had an eternal eye on them, they had a human eye on them but they had a heavenly eye on them, they had a wicked eye on them, but they had a watchful eye on them, they had a deadly eye on them, but hallelujah they had a divine eye on them. God was their shield and defence, that’s why the work of God could not stop.

“The eye of their God,” does that not inspire you? Have you become disheartened in the cause of Christ? Will you start working in the realization that the eye of God is on you? “ The eye of their God,” does that not challenge you? Do you see that sinful habit, that shady deal, that bitter spirit, that carnal attitude, that unforgiving disposition, well God sees it.

“The eye of their God,” does that not encourage you? The Bible says, “ behold the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him.” (Ps 33:18) Did you know God’s eye is on you? It’s a picture of God’s watchful providence over us. My …. God is watching over you, God is caring for you, God has His eyes on you. He loves you so much He can’t take His eyes off you. “ =His eye is on the sparrow and I know He’s watching me.”


For is this not what the rest of the chapter is all about? Tatnai writes to Darius, giving him a complete report of the work at Jerusalem, and asking him for information concerning the decree of Cyrus (5:13, 17) Now what was the decree of Cyrus? (1:1) That the Jews leave Babylon go to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Tatnai didn’t realize it, but he was asking the king to supply him with information about God’s will for His people. Now the information that was sought …


There are two words in (5:8) that are worth underscoring. Do you know what they are? “This work.”

They may have sent this letter in malice, but it testified not only to the greatness of God, but to the greatness of the work that was being done. You see, “ this work,” was God’s work, and it was being done …

1. Conscientiously

Is that not the gist of (5:8) You see, God’s work must be done in God’s way by God’s people for God’s glory. My …. are you interested in “ this work,”? Are you involved in “ this work,”? What way are you doing “ this work?”

Elders, let me ask you are you doing “ this work,” conscientiously, or we are just elders in name, but not in nature? Do you see that bus run? Do you see that care for the kids in the crèche? Do you see that children’s

meeting? That youth ministry? It’s all part of “ this work,” and “ this work,” is God’s work.

2. Urgently

“ This work goeth fast on,” (5:8) Inspired by the preaching of the prophets and encouraged by the example of the leaders, the Jews worked zealously and urgently. I wonder at times have we lost the note of urgency in the Lord’s work? My …. “ soon will the season of rescue be o’er, soon will we stand on eternity shore.”

3. Effectively

“ And prospereth in their hands,” is that not what we want to see as we step out into this new session? (a)


There are two words in (5:11) that are worth underscoring. “The servants of the God of heaven and earth and build the house ….,” they knew who they were, they knew what they believed and they knew what they were doing. What a way to begin this new season. To realise that we are the servants of the God of heaven and earth and that we are building a spiritual temple out of the ruins of fallen humanity. Do you see here …

1. Our Humility

“servants,” listening to our Master’s voice, learning at our Mater’s feet, leaning on our Master’s arms, “servants.”

2. Our Dignity

“of the God of heaven and earth.” Is any service more honorable than Gods?

3. Our Responsibility

“and build the house ….,” - not a material temple, but a spiritual temple.

My …. we build realizing that the eye of God is ever upon us.