“Now these are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away to Babylon, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his own city.”
Ezra tells the story of the children of Israel returning to Jerusalem, at the end of seventy years of captivity in Babylon. We find that while hundreds of thousands were taken captive, less than fifty thousand returned. I am relatively certain that many should have returned that didn’t, but we are also given insight into the ones that were willing to leave all and take up the challenge of engaging in the work of God.
“Then the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.”
Notice the phrase “all whose spirits God had moved.” There was a work of the Spirit of God upon the hearts of men and women, calling them into ministry. We often hear talk of the call of God, and we see it in action right here. The Spirit began to move and people were willing to leave their homes, friends, comforts, and land, to step out and be a part of the work of God in reaching the world. There are a few key truths regarding the call of God that are vividly illustrated in this passage.
First, we realize not everyone was called to the same task. This chapter refers to priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers and the general public, all being called to the work of the Lord. Their varying gifts and callings would work together to accomplish the rebuilding of the temple. Sometimes we feel as though we are not called to ministry because we do not have a certain skill set or gifting. Not all ministry involves standing behind a pulpit or playing an instrument. Many have effectively served Christ without any of those gifts. One of my favorite missionaries was David Livingston who, although he shared Christ with many, also was somewhat of a trailblazer who, through his life, opened the door for many others to make their way to Africa with the Gospel.
Second, we find that while some were stirred to GO, others were called to stay behind and support those who were sent.
Ezra 1:6 “And all those who were around them encouraged them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with precious things, besides all that was willingly offered.”
Even the king of Persia got involved and gave back all the articles that had been looted from the Temple when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem. In the God’s economy, those who support the work are equal participants with those who do the work. As a church, we have been blessed over the years to be able do ministry on six of the seven continents. We have had individuals, teams, and pastors travel to over 20 different countries, to be involved in spreading gospel and making disciples. While a lot of different people have been able to make these trips, many more have been involved by supporting the work. What kind of eternal investments have you been making?
Perhaps God is stirring your heart to get involved in ministry. Maybe you are sensing that it is time to make some greater eternal investments. The first step is to get involved in your local church. Contact them and ask how you can help. It may be that the Lord is calling you into a new season in life. I can attest to the fact that there is nothing better in life than serving Christ.