When it comes to putting things together—electronics, furniture, and the like—my son and I have differing approaches. Steve is more mechanically inclined, so he tends to toss the instructions aside and just start in. Meanwhile, I’m poring over the “Read This Before Starting” warning while he has already put the thing halfway together.
Sometimes we can get by without the instructions. But when it comes to putting together a life that reflects the goodness and wisdom of God, we can’t afford to ignore the directions He’s given to us in the Bible.
The Israelites who had returned to their land after the Babylonian captivity are a good example of this. As they began to reestablish worship in their homeland, they prepared to do so “in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses” (Ezra 3:2). By building a proper altar and in celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles as prescribed by God in Leviticus 23:33-43, they did exactly what God’s directions told them to do.
Christ gave His followers some directions too. He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37,39). When we believe in Him and come to Him, He shows us the way to live. The One who made us knows far better than we do how life is supposed to work.
Remind us, Lord, as we start each day that You have already shown us by Your example how to live. Help us to read Your Word and follow the directions You so graciously provide for us.
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If we want God to lead us, we must be willing to follow Him.
Twice in today’s passage Ezra records that the people returning from exile did things “in accordance with what is written” (vv. 2,4). However, what makes these statements impressive is what is found in the middle of the paragraph. They did all these things “despite their fear of the peoples around them”—the residents of Judah who were not part of the returning exiles (v. 3).