January 07, 2014

By Whose Authority?

Ezra 5:3-17

“Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and to finish it?”
—Ezra 5:3, 9


A man moved into a new neighborhood. He loved grilling steaks on Friday. But the neighbors came by and informed him that in this neighborhood fish was the official meat to grill on Friday. Everything went back to normal until the next Friday. The new guy grilled steaks again, and again the neighbors confronted him. The man asked if there was a written rule about fish-grilling. Well, there wasn’t a rule, but this was the way things had always been done, so steak-grilling should stop, they said.

There were unwritten rules in the region around Israel too, as God’s people rebuilt their temple to the Lord. The neighboring communities thought the rebuilding should stop. They wrote a letter to King Darius, and they were sure the king would see things their way.

In the meantime, the Israelites stood their ground, knowing Cyrus had given them permission earlier. They reaffirmed their identity first as God’s people: “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth…” In addition, they knew they had been exiled because of their disobedience to God. But now they had permission from King Cyrus to rebuild God’s temple.

Today we are authorized to be the witnesses of King Jesus in the world. Our identity is in the risen Lord, who is building his kingdom in us, through us, and around us. And by his authority we will build his kingdom by serving him in this world.

Lord, empower me to pray and work as I serve in your world. May I bring glory only to you. Amen.

About the author — Reginald Smith

Dr. Reginald Smith is senior pastor at Roosevelt Park Community Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has served for seventeen years. He has also served as a pastor in Paterson, New Jersey. He and his wife, Sharon, have three daughters, Janelle, Katrina, and Mariah.

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