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From Captivity to Captivation

From Captivity to Captivation




A.     How would it make us feel if (because of circumstances out of our control) we could not read our Bibles, sing songs of praise, or worship God for 70 years?

B.     Can you imagine what it would be like not to read the Sermon on the Mount; sing such songs as "I Want to Know More,” "Sing and Be Happy,” and "Amazing Grace”?

C.     While this is very hard for us to imagine, a similar incident did happen to the Israelites (Ps 137:1ff, Jer 25:8-12; 29:9-10).

  • Ps. 137: 1By the waters of Babylon,
            there we sat down and wept,
            when we remembered Zion.
    2On the      willows[a] there
            we hung up our lyres.
    3For there      our captors
            required of us songs,
         and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
            "Sing us one of the      songs of Zion!"

 4(A) How shall we sing the LORD’s song
   in a foreign land?
5If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
(B) let my right hand forget its skill!
6Let my(C) tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
   if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
   above my highest joy!

 7Remember, O LORD, against the(D) Edomites
(E) the day of Jerusalem,
how they said,
(F) "Lay it bare, lay it bare,
   down to its foundations!"
8O daughter of Babylon,(G) doomed to be destroyed,
   blessed shall he be who
(H) repays you
   with what you have done to us!
9Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
(I) dashes them against the rock!


D.     In accordance with His promise, God did take His people into Captivity in three waves—606,597,586.

E.      But, God also brought his people out of Captivity as He promised.


·        Cyrus 536 (Isa 44:28; 45:1; Ezra 1:1-2)

 Ezra 1:1-2 1(A) In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia,(B) that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so(C) that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:

 2"Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and(D) he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.


·        Ezra (temple and Israelite morality restored)

·        Nehemiah 444 (walls 52 days, the word of God).


F.      What steps are necessary to have real restoration?  Notice what steps were necessary in Nehemiah 8 and what steps are necessary today.


1And all the people gathered as one man into the square before(A) the Water Gate. And they told(B) Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. 2So Ezra the priest(C) brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard,(D) on the first day of the seventh month. 3(E) And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. 4And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. 5And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. 6And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered,(F) "Amen, Amen,"(G)lifting up their hands.(H) And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. 7(I)Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites,[a](J) helped the people to understand the Law,(K) while the people remained in their places.8They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly,[b] and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

This Day Is Holy

 9And Nehemiah, who was(L) the governor, and Ezra(M) the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people,(N) "This day is holy to the LORD your God;(O) do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 10Then he said to them, "Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and(P) send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." 11So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved." 12And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because(Q) they had understood the words that were declared to them.


What steps are necessary to have real restoration?


I.  Unity.  Vs. 1


A.     For years the Israelites had been divided over spiritual matters (expound).


B.     God has always wanted his people to have unity (Ps 133:1, Eph 4:3, I Cor 1:10).

a.       Ps 133:1: Behold, how good and pleasant it is
(B) brothers dwell in unity.

b.       I Cor 1:10 10I appeal to you, brothers,[a] by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no(A)divisions among you, but that you be united(B) in the same mind and the same judgment. 


1.       In unity there is strength. Eccl 4:9-12


Eccl 4:9-12: 9Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11Again, if two lie together, they keep warm,(A) but how can one keep warm alone? 12And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.


2.      Unity proves to the world that Jesus is the son of God. Jn 17:20-21, Eph 4:4-6


2.       We must be diligent to strive to posses the seven ones of Eph 4:4-6.

a.       Eph 4:4-6: There is(A) one body and(B) one Spirit—just as you were called to the one(C) hope that belongs to your call— 5(D)one Lord,(E) one faith,(F) one baptism, 6(G) one God and Father of all,(H) who is over all and through all and in all.


II.  An attentive heart.  Vs. 2-3


A.     The Israelites were attentive to the Word of God because they realized its’ great worth.


B.     The only way that we can have an attitude of attentiveness is when we also realize the Bible’s great worth.  Riches---Mk 8:36-37


1.      The Bible contains the words of Life.  Jn 6:68, II Pet 1:3, 2 Tim 1:13


2.      It edifies us closer to God. Acts 20:32, James 4:8


3.      It convicts us of sin. Acts 2:36, Acts 9:6 Ps 119:11, James 1:25-26


4.      It is able to save the soul. Jn 8:32, Jn 17:17, Acts 11:14, James 1:21, I Tim 4:16


5.      It tells us who we are(Gen 2:17, Isa 62:1-2, Acts 11:26), why we are here(Isa 43:7, Eccl 12:13), and where we are going (Jn 14, Matt 25,7:13-14).


6.      It is Powerful and Eternal.  (Rom 1:16, Heb 4:12, Matt 24:35, I Pet 1:25).


III.  Respect for the Word of God.  Vs. 4-5


A.     After 70 years of hard captivity it finally dawned upon the Israelites that God’s word was their only hope and so they stood up as a sign of respect for the Bible.


B.     Today we stand up for the prayers, and songs, but what about the word of God? 


C.     The only way that we can gain a respect for the Bible is when we realize that it is God’s very words of instruction for us.


1.      When you buy a new car or a new appliance it usually comes with a user’s manual. 


2.      The prophets realized that the Bible was God’s word and they respected it as that:


·        In Jeremiah and Lamentations, Jeremiah says over 500 times that this is God’s Book, not mine.

·        In Ezekiel, Ezekiel says some 309 times that this is God’s book and not mine.

·        In Zechariah, Zechariah says 78 times that this is not my book, but God’s.


D.     When we do respect the Bible, then we will apply its principles to our life.

1.      Acts 20:7

2.      I Tim 2:11-12

3.      Acts 2:38

4.      Phil 1:1


IV.  Worship for God with Fear/Reverence.  Vs. 6


A.     The act of bowing ones’ face to the ground was a sign of reverence, fear for God.


1.      Ex. 3:5—Moses – Burning Bush


2.      Isa 6:4-5—Isaiah – Vision of the Lord High and lifted up.


3.      John Revelation – When he sees the lamb


B      You and I must worship God in a reverent fashion (Jn 4:23-24).

  • Jn 4:23-24 But(A) the hour is coming, and is      now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father(B) in spirit and(C)truth,      for the Father(D) is seeking such people to      worship him. 24God      is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and      truth."


1.      Reverent attitude.


V.  Proper Hermeneutics (Vs. 7-8,12)


A.     Read God’s Word (Eph 4:3, I Tim 4:13)


B.     Help understand God’s word (2 Pet 3:15-16, Bible is its own best commentary).


C.     Apply its messages to our life (Phil 4:8-9).


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