Ezra 3

Talks for Growing Christians

The Jews Build an Altar and Begin the New Temple

Ezra 3

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Lesson Number 3

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The work of the Lord proceeds with organization. Ezra 3:1-9
  2. The work of the Lord proceeds with emotion. Ezra 3:10-13

Practical Application

  1. Go to the Lord when you are afraid.


  1. Who was Jeshua? Who was Zerubbabel?
  2. The returned captives did first things first. What was the order they followed?
  3. How can the dates of the seventy years of captivity be calculated?


  1. Jeshua was the high priest. Zerubbabel was the leader who brought the Jewish people back from captivity.
  2. First, they built the altar of sacrifice so that they could worship and obey the Lord. Second, in obedience to the law, they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. Third, they began to offer all the sacrifices and keep all the feasts in accordance with the law. Fourth, they began to build the foundation of the temple of the Lord.
  3. The work on the foundation of the temple began in 535 B.C. Seventy years earlier, in 605 B.C., the first phase of the fall of the kingdom of Judah took place. Another way to calculate the seventy years is from 586 B.C. when the temple was destroyed, down to 516 B.C., when the temple was completed.


  1. The work of the Lord proceeds with organization. This principle is illustrated in the record before us. First, the people were organized as to their priorities. The first thing they did upon returning to Jerusalem was to build the altar of the Lord, (because worship of the Lord was their top priority). Then, worship led to obedience (they obeyed the Lord as to all the offerings and feasts that were given in the law). After that, they were organized as to their preparations. And, importantly, the people were unified. Are we organized as to our priorities? Are worship and obedience to the Lord in the number one place in your life? Review the past week. List your priorities. To organize the work of the Lord is biblical. It doesn’t just happen automatically. Check out the organization of the work of the Lord both in your church gathering and in your own life. Are you, with other believers, of one mind in serving the Lord?
  2. As the work of the Lord proceeded, it was a time of great emotion. The people sang and the music was loud, and the people shouted for joy. But some wept. The work of the Lord proceeds with emotion today as well. Sometimes it is with weeping, sometimes it is with celebration, and sometimes with both joy and sorrow mingling. How is it with the work of the Lord in your spheres of service?


  1. When you are frightened, where do you turn, to whom do you go? “Though fear came upon them…they turned to the Lord (in worship and obedience)…” (Ezra 3:3) Fear comes in all shapes and sizes – physical danger, sickness, security, the unknown. Do you instinctively turn to the Lord? God loves to hear our prayers when we are afraid because it shows our dependence on Him. That’s the right place to go! See Isaiah 12:2.

Key Verses

  • “…the people gathered together as one man…” Ezra 3:1
  • “Though fear had come upon them…they set the altar…they offered burnt offerings to the Lord…” Ezra 3:3
  • “…everyone willingly offered a freewill offering to the Lord.” Ezra 3:5
  • “…all those who came out of the captivity…began work on the house of the Lord.” Ezra 3:8
  • “And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord…” Ezra 3:11

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