The restoration of God’s people is recorded in detail in the book of Ezra. God’s remnant responded to His call of freedom with obedience and fresh hope that was placed in their hearts by God Himself. The Israelite’s response did not come without a price. In order for God’s people to walk in the freedom that God provided they had to leave some things behind in Babylon. In like manner, as we journey through life and through this powerful book of restoration there may be some things or even people that we must leave behind.
God’s heart is for us to be free. If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:36)
I’ll admit that God has been dealing with me about some things in my life that I know that are not pleasing to Him. There may be some things that God has been pricking your heart about. You know that same issue or issues that you’ve been battling with that you keep reverting back to. You’ve prayed and prayed. Tried and tried. But this issue, this sin, this “weed” keeps growing back, stunting your spiritual growth, hindering you from experiencing the fullness, freedom, and intimacy that God has provided through Christ Jesus. Believe me, I know the feeling too well. God’s conviction does not go unnoticed by His children. But I’m here to tell you that God is a Strong Deliverer and Restorer and whatever He is asking us to leave behind in “Babylon” will make room for more of Him, His blessing in our lives and the lives of those whom our lives affect. Let’s look to the Word with eager expectation!
God's heart is for us to be free!
In Ezra chapter 1 we see that God paved the way for Judah’s freedom by stirring the heart of King Cyrus to return them to their homeland of Jerusalem by giving a proclamation. “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build Him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you people may go to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild this Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. And may your God be with you.” It’s good to note that this proclamation went out to all 12 tribes of Israel but only 2 tribes responded to the word of the Lord; Judah and Benjamin. Their hearts were stirred! God moved on their hearts and gave them a great desire to go back and rebuild. Even though the journey would be difficult and sometimes dangerous going through hostile territory and facing opposition, they were still determined and obedient to answer the call to freedom and rebuild the Temple. As they were rebuilding the Temple, God was at work rebuilding their hearts. On the other hand, the other ten tribes couldn’t bring themselves to give up everything and chose to stay back in Babylon.
For me, refuse to stay back or even look back. God has so much in store for His children ahead! My earnest prayer is that God would stir our hearts and faith to action. He will work in us, giving us the desire and power to do what pleases Him as we journey through to restoration and personal revival! And as God was with His people then; God Immanuel is with us now and will empower us and supply our every need from His abundance for our journey, cultivating deeper intimacy, fresh fire, and freedom.
The cost for freedom; fresh surrender, a humbling of ourselves under the mighty hand of God. There is no revival without repentance. There is no repentance without surrender. There is no surrender without humility. Scripture tells us that, "God resists the proud but gives more grace to the humble." (James 4:6) “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10) “God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.” (Matthew 5:5)
A heart posture of humility positions us for God's grace to superabound in our lives!
Come close to the heart of our Lord and incline your heart to His words, “For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (Isaiah 57:15) Humility is essential for revival. God in His great lovingkindness reaches down from on high and revives the spirits and hearts of those who are meek and submitted to His Lordship and dwells with them and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17)
Surrender is not perfection but being planted. Being surrendered branches of His planting, the work of His hands, that He may be glorified. (Isaiah 60:21) God's grace superabounds to those who are aware of their depravity and desperate need of God to work and will and do what they cannot do in their own strength.
Surrender is not perfection but being planted by God's own hand.
Jesus gives us a divine invite, Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me because I am humble and gentle at heart.” (Matthew 11:29a) Oh, what a blessed privilege to be taught by the lowly Jesus. If HE was humbled even until death how much more should we be humbled to die to the flesh and the things that keep us from drawing nearer to Him.
When we cry out to God with repentant humble hearts, He hears us. He supplies more grace for us to overcome and walk in His gift of freedom. Just as God sent His word through King Cyrus to set the exiles free, God sent the Living Word, Jesus, to set us free!
This may require us coming out of our comfort zones. Like the people of Judah, we may run into some difficult terrain and opposition but be encouraged. God has not changed. He is STILL a Strong Deliverer and what’s before us far outweighs what’s behind! He is STILL a Restorer and He will restore to us what was lost and establish us to His original purpose, intent, and blessing. He is STILL Jehovah Jireh and He will provide everything we need every step of the way.
Know that He has not given up on you. Let this sink in; God loves you! His love does not exhaust or expire. His plan for your life has not lapsed. He will instruct and teach you in the way you should go. He will counsel you with His loving eye on you. (Psalm 32:7a)
So, don’t give up. Don’t go back! Don’t look back! Stay focused keeping your eyes on Jesus. Shadow and follow Him closely. Feast on God’s Holy Word. Be faithful in getting quiet and alone with Him. Draw near with an assured heart. Linger and allow God’s healing balm to soothe all your fears and bind up all your wounds.
Lavish Him with love, reverence, praise, and thanksgiving.
Holdfast to His promises.
Anchor your faith.
Be kept in the love of God.
The Anointed One has set us free, not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past. Galatians 5:1 (TPT)