1. Application

The LORD's Undeserved Goodness and Love Incite Praise


Ezra 3 emphasizes the goodness of the Lord. His goodness is seen in the fact that he keeps loving the people of Israel even though they are sinful and wicked (Ezra 9:6, Ezra 9:3). He has not forsaken them (Ezra 9:9).

God’s love toward the people of Israel is seen in the fact that he has brought them up out of Babylon back to Jerusalem and allowed them to rebuild the altar and the temple. These events are a testimony to God’s love.

The Bible presents Israel's exile as similar to Adam and Eve's exile from the Garden of Eden.1 As a result of Israel's sin, they are driven away from God’s presence, and their separation from God means they are spiritually dead. Ezekiel 37:1–28 presents the people of Israel living in exile as people who are spiritually dead and in need of resurrection.

Their return to Jerusalem is a result of God’s lovingkindness toward them and not a result of their goodness. The people who came back from the exile realized this. That is why they praise God when the foundations of the temple have been laid. They realize that the Lord has shown them a great kindness in bringing them back to Jerusalem, allowing them to worship him through the sacrificial system and allowing them to rebuild a temple.

In response to God’s mercy, the people of Israel praise God (Ezra 3:11). They praise God not only by singing psalms, but also by ensuring that they obey God in every aspect of their lives. They are eager to do the sacrifices as God taught them in his Word (Ezra 3:2, Ezra 3:5). They make sure they build the temple under the supervision of the Levites (?). They make sure that only the people who are allowed to use trumpets and cymbals to worship God at the temple are the ones who do so (?).

Just like the people of Israel were considered spiritually dead during the exile, there was a time when all Christians were also spiritually dead. According to ? and ?, we hated God and were slaves to our sinful desires by nature. Unless God worked in us supernaturally through his Holy Spirit, we would never come to faith in Jesus Christ. We would remain slaves to our sinful desires.

Our salvation and faith as Christians are thus not a result of anything good in us, as if we are better than people who do not believe in Jesus Christ. We are Christians only because God has chosen to have mercy on us and give us the gift of faith so that we can repent of our sins and believe in Jesus Christ for our salvation. Just like the exiles needed God’s Spirit to make dead dry bones come alive (Ezekiel 37:1–28), we need God’s Spirit to give us new life in Christ.

God saved us because of his great love for us even when we were his enemies (?; ?).

Since our salvation is a result of God’s grace, we can and must follow the example of the exiles by praising God for his love and goodness towards us. We praise God through the songs we sing (?; ?) but also by living in a way that honours him (?; ?). Now that we belong to God, we must strive like the exiles to obey God in every area of our life.