Ezra 6:22
For seven days they observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread with joy, because the LORD had made them joyful and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them to strengthen their hands in the work on the house of the God of Israel.
Sermons
CheerfulnessDr. Japp, in the "Argosy".Ezra 6:22
God the Joy-BringerA. Maclaren, D. D.Ezra 6:22
Joy Favourable to Religion: Sing and RejoiceT. R. Stevenson.Ezra 6:22
Dedicating the TempleMonday Club SermonsEzra 6:14-22
Dedicating the TempleD. J. Burrell, D. D.Ezra 6:14-22
God Requires Men to WorkEzra 6:14-22
Prophets and BuildersJ. Parker, D. DEzra 6:14-22
The Building of God's TempleGeorge S. Merrian.Ezra 6:14-22
The Dedication of the Second TempleC. Clemance, D. D.Ezra 6:14-22
The Dedication of the Temple was Characterised ByWilliam Jones.Ezra 6:14-22
The Erection of ChurchHomilistEzra 6:14-22
The Joy of Dedicating a House for the LordG. B. Brand.Ezra 6:14-22
The Second TempleE. B. Mason.Ezra 6:14-22
The True Pulpit the Best Promoter of Honest IndustryHomilistEzra 6:14-22
Church DedicationJ.S. Exell Ezra 6:16-22
Timely and Wise EnthusiasmW. Clarkson Ezra 6:16-22
The PassoverJ.A. Macdonald Ezra 6:19-22


Six memorable passovers are mentioned in Old Testament Scripture. The first was in Egypt (Exodus 12.). The second in the wilderness (Numbers 11.). The third at Gilgal (Joshua 5.). The fourth in the days of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30.). The fifth in the eighteenth year of Josiah (2 Kings 23.). The sixth is that here mentioned. The subject is distributed into two parts: -

I. THE FEAST. This also is distributed into two parts.

1. The passover proper.

(1) This was held "upon the fourteenth day of the first month." This was the anniversary of the night before the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt, when the angel who destroyed the first-born of the Egyptians passed over the Israelites, who were protected by the blood of a slaughtered lamb.

(2) What an expressive type of the protection we derive through the sprinkling of the blood of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 5:7)! The very time of the death of Jesus was indicated in this date. He suffered not only in the first month and on the fourteenth day, but also "between the evenings" (Matthew 27:46).

2. The feast of unleavened bread,

(1) Scrupulous care was taken that no leaven should be found in their dwellings. Leaven is a salt and sour matter which is put into dough to ferment the mass for bread, and is also of a putrefying nature. Its exclusion by the ancient Israelite expressed his aversion to the abominations of the Egyptians from which he was delivered (Exodus 12:17; Exodus 13:3). These Jews would associate with the abominations of Egypt those of Babylon from which they were now delivered.

(2) The Eucharist is our feast of unleavened bread. Those who partake of this should put away all leaven of heresy (Matthew 16:16). All notorious and scandalous living (1 Corinthians 5:6, 7). All malice and wickedness of the heart (1 Corinthians 1:8).

3. The feast was kept with joy.

(1) With the joy ordinarily fitting to such an occasion. They kept it "seven days, and therefore with its "holy convocations" on the first and last days. Holy convocations to godly persons are essentially joyous. They anticipate the convocation in the heavens.

(2) But they had special reason for rejoicing. "For the Lord had made them joyful by turning the heart of the king of Assyria unto them to strengthen their hands," etc. The Persian monarchs are here collectively called the "king of Assyria" because they were rulers over the ancient Assyrian territory. (Note - May not this suggest the key to many prophecies which evidently relate in their fuller expression to the latter times, in which names of ancient kingdoms are still used?) The finishing of their temple was an occasion of great joy. There is no joy to be compared with that which the Lord makes for us.

II. THE PREPARATION.

1. The priests were purified, and the Levites were all of them pure. The state of things was now as it had been in the days of Hezekiah, when the passover had to be held in the second month because the priests had not sufficiently sanctified themselves to hold it at the more proper time (2 Chronicles 30:3). Note - When the spiritual temple is complete the priests and Levites - the saints of God - will be all morally pure.

2. All the children of the captivity were pure.

(1) This is evident from the fact that the passover was killed for them all (ver. 20). The second passover was instituted to meet the case of those who through ceremonial uncleanness were incapable of taking the first (see Numbers 9:6-11). Here there was no need of a second, for the whole nation was ceremonially clean. This was a very remarkable circumstance, and shows what a wonderful providence was over their families, for a dead body in a house was sufficient to render its inmates unfit for this feast (see Numbers 19:14). What a type of the glorified Church! The joy of the paschal feast when it is renewed in the kingdom of God will not be interrupted by death. All there will be pure in the noblest sense.

3. Believing Gentiles were joined with their Jewish brethren (ver. 21). They were qualified for this holy fellowship -

(1) By "separating themselves from the filthiness of the heathen land." Some may have come with them from Babylon, as the mixed multitude came up from Egypt (see Exodus 12:38; Nehemiah 13:3). Some may have been "people of the land," descendants of Esar-haddon's importation (Ezra 4:2). But they must have become Jewish proselytes.

(2) By "seeking the Lord God of Israel." True worship and salvation are nowhere else to be found (see John 4:22). At whatever sacrifice, let us seek the fellowship of the saints (Ephesians 2:13-22). - J.A.M.









For the Lord had made them joyful.
I. GOD IS THE JOY-MAKER.

1. The object of much that God does is simply the blessedness of human hearts. The poorest creature that lives has a right to ask of God the satisfaction of its instincts, and every man has a claim on God to make him glad. God pays all cheques legitimately drawn on Him, and regards Himself as occupied in a manner entirely congruous with His magnificence and infinitude, when He stoops to put some kind of vibrating gladnesses into the wings of a gnat that dances for an hour in the sunshine, and into the heart of a man that lives his time for only a very little longer.

2. God's method of making us glad is by putting Himself into us. The secret of all true human well-being is close communion with God.

3. By His providences He gives the secondary and lower gifts which men according to their circumstances need. He gives whatever is contributory to any kind of gladness; and if we are wise we shall trace all to Him. Our common mercies are His love-tokens and they all come to us just as the gifts of parents to their children do, with this on the fly-leaf, "With a father's love."

II. THE OBLIGATION AND WISDOM OF TAKING OUR GOD-GIVEN JOYS.

1. Be sure you take Him. When He is waiting to pour all His love into your heart, and all His sweetness into your spirit, to calm your anxieties, to deepen your blessedness; to strengthen everything that is good in you; to be to you a stay in the midst of crumbling prosperity and a light in the midst of the gathering darkness, be sure that you take the joy that waits your acceptance.

2. Recognise Him in all common mercies, because He is at the back of them all. Everything ought to be vocal to us of the loving-kindness of our Father in heaven. Link Him with everything that makes your heart glad. God does not desire to be put away high up on a pedestal above our lives, as if He regulated the great things and the trifles regulated themselves; but He seeks to come as air into the lungs, into every particle of the mass of life, and to fill it all with His purifying presence.

3. Recognise Him in common joys.

4. Be sure that you use the joys which He gives. There are two ways in which you can look at the world and at everything that befalls you. There is enough in everybody's life to make him sad if he selects these things to dwell upon. There is enough in everybody's life to make him continually glad if he wisely picks out these things to think about. It depends altogether on the angle at which you look at your life what you see about it. For instance, you know how children do when they get a bit of a willow wand into their possession. They cut off rings of bark and get the switch alternately white and black, white and black, and so on right to the tip. Whether will you look at the white rings or the black ones? They are both there, but if you rightly look at the black you will find out that there is white below it, and it only needs a very little stripping off of a film to make it into white too. No Christian man has a right to regard anything that God's providence brings to him as such unmingled evil that it ought to make him sad. We are bound to "rejoice in the Lord alway."

5. Be sure that you limit your delights by God-made joys. There is nothing sadder than the joys that come into a life and do not come from God. Let us see to it that we do not fill our cisterns with poisonous sewage, when. God is waiting to fill them with the pure river of the water of life. Does my joy help me to come near to God? Does it interfere with my communion with Him? Does it aid me in the consecration of myself? Does my conscience go with it when my conscience is most awake? The alternative presented to each of us is whether we will have surface joy and a centre of dark discontent, or surface sorrow and a centre of calm blessedness. The film of stagnant water on a pond of rottenness simulates the glories of the rainbow, in which pure sunshine falls upon the pure drops, "but it is only painted corruption after all, and if a man put his lips to it, it will kill him. Such is the joy which is apart from God."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Cheerfulness is the root of constancy; for there is no more shifty and unreliable person than your curmudgeon, who is the slave of his own caprices; it is the best assurance of life, health, and wealth; it is the sign and evidence of steady and energetic mind. It will make a fruitful youth, a happy manhood, and a serene old age. It is the "open sesame" to many secrets which the discontented and peevish strive hard to discover but always miss; it is the magic medium of friendship, if not even of love; where there may be lack of special tastes and sympathies, cheerfulness will do much to supply their place. As water to the flower, so is cheerfulness to the mind. It keeps all green and sweet, and sends forth a gracious savour that is imperceptible, but wins all by its perfume. By cheerfulness a man's powers of work and production are doubled; he has, as it were, taken in a set of working partners most ready to aid him in every task and enterprise. Cheerfulness keeps all the faculties in good condition, so that they are ever ready to do their utmost without strain.

(Dr. Japp, in the "Argosy".).

: — One bright summer's day we noticed a lark; at first we could not see it, but with the eye shaded by an uplifted hand it was soon detected. There it flew, a little speck, a dim spot in the Italian-blue sky, pouring down floods of music. On it went, higher and higher; as long as it sang and rejoiced, it arose. But when the song ceased its flight ceased too. Thus is it with our souls; they ascend Godwards while we sing and rejoice. "Rejoice in the Lord; for you it is safe"; take refuge in the citadel of heaven-sent bliss, and you are secure against many a Satanic attack.

(T. R. Stevenson.).

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