Wednesday, February 4, 2009

An Overview of Ezra

  • When the Jews were carried off to Babylon, their Temple was destroyed.  Without the Temple, they were unable to carry out the type of worship prescribed for them in the law.  Upon their return to Jerusalem, rebuilding the Temple became a priority.  Don't answer now, but think about some of the good things in your life that have been destroyed over time.
  • Read Ezra 3:10-13.  Why do you think it was so important to the Jews to rebuild the Temple?  What times and places in your life seem to be more "sacred"?  What types of activities seem to bring you closer to God?
  • The rebuilt Temple was a source of bittersweet emotion.  Why do you think some of the people wept when they saw the foundation for this temple being laid?
  • Read Ezra 6:14-18.  Throughout the rebuilding of the temple, the Jews faced great opposition.  What emotions do you think the people felt at the completion of their long project?  Why is it satisfying to finish something that has been difficult to complete?
  • What are areas of your life which need to be "rebuilt"?  What are the issues that present opposition to this rebuilding?  How can you take a step toward rebuilding these things?
  • Read Ezra 9:1-4.  By marrying foreigners, the people of Israel had broken one of God's most important rules.  How do you feel about Ezra's response to this sin (v.3)?  Do you ever respond this way to sin?  Why or why not?
  • Why do we often not take sin as seriously as we should?  What is the proper response for us to have toward sin?
  • Read Ezra 10:1-4.  Shecaniah proposes drastic measures to correct the sin of the people.   For the Jews, it was imperative to regain their status as the "called-out" people of God.  They wanted to be separate from the other nations.  What areas of your life are not as separate from the world as they should be?  How can you begin the process of correcting these things?  How can your group help you?

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