Message Four
The Recovery of the Church as God's House and God's City as Portrayed in Ezra and Nehemiah

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Scripture Reading: Ezra 7:6-10, 21, 27-28; 8:21-23; 10:1; Neh. 1:1-11; 2:4, 10, 17-20; 3:1-6; 4:4-5, 9; 5:10, 14-19; 8:1-4, 8-9, 14

I. The recovery of a remnant of the children of Israel from Babylon to Jeru-salem for the rebuilding of the temple and the city signifies the Lord's recovery of a remnant of the church out of today's division and confusion back to the original ground of oneness for the building up of the church as the house of God and the kingdom of God—Rev. 17:1-6; 18:2, 4a:

A. God's people need to be recovered out of Babylon back to the unique ground of oneness—Deut. 12:5, 11-14; Psa. 133; Rev. 1:11.
B. God's people need to be recovered back to the enjoyment of the unsearchably rich Christ as the all-inclusive Spirit, typified by the good land—Eph. 3:8; Gal. 3:14; Deut. 8:7-10; Col. 1:12; 2:6-7.
C. In the recovery of the church we are building up the Body of Christ, the temple of God, the house of God—Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Cor. 3:9-17.
D. In the recovery of the church we are living the kingdom life to reign in life in the reality of God's kingdom—Rom. 14:17; 5:17; cf. Matt. 5:3, 8; 6:6, 14-15, 20-21; 7:13-14.
E. This fulfills God's original intention to have a corporate man to express Him in His image and to represent Him with His dominion—Gen. 1:26.

II. The Lord raised up Ezra to strengthen and enrich His recovery—Ezra 7:6-10:

A. Ezra was a priest and also a scribe, one who was skilled in the law of God; as such a person, Ezra had the capacity to meet the need—v. 21:
1. A priest is one who is mingled with the Lord and saturated with the Lord; Ezra was this kind of person—8:21-23.
2. Ezra was a man who trusted in God, who was one with God, who was skilled in the Word of God, and who knew God's heart, God's desire, and God's economy—7:27-28; 10:1.
3. Ezra was one with the Lord by contacting Him continually; thus, he was not a letter-scribe but a priestly scribe—Neh. 8:1-2, 8-9.
4. Ezra spoke nothing new; what he spoke had been spoken already by Moses— Ezra 7:6; Neh. 8:14.
B. In the Lord's recovery we need Ezras, priestly teachers who contact God, who are saturated with God, who are one with God and filled with God, and who are skillful in the Word of God; this is the kind of person who is qualified to be a teacher in the Lord's recovery—Matt. 13:52; 2 Cor. 3:5-6; 1 Tim. 2:7.
C. Ezra reconstituted the people of Israel by educating them with the heavenly truths so that Israel could become God's testimony—Neh. 8:1-4, 8:
1. God's intention with Israel was to have on earth a divinely constituted people to be His testimony; in order for God's people to be His testimony, they had to be reconstituted with the word of God—Isa. 49:6; 60:1-3.
2. After the return from captivity, the people were still unruly, for they had been born and raised in Babylon and had become Babylonian in their con-stitution:
a. The Babylonian element had been wrought into them and constituted into their being—Zech. 3:3-5.
b. After they returned to the land of their fathers to be citizens of the nation of Israel, they needed a reconstitution.
3. There was the need of teaching and reconstitution to bring the people of God into a culture that was according to God, a culture that expressed God; this kind of culture requires a great deal of education—Neh. 8:8:
a. Ezra was very useful at this point, for he bore the totality of the heavenly and divine constitution and culture, and he was one through whom the people could be reconstituted with the word of God—vv. 1-2.
b. Ezra could help the people to know God not merely in a general way but according to what God had spoken—v. 8.
4. In order to reconstitute the people of God, there was the need to educate them with the word that comes out of the mouth of God and that expresses God—Psa. 119:2, 9, 105, 130, 140:
a. To reconstitute the people of God is to educate them by putting them into the word of God so that they may be saturated with the word—Col. 3:16.
b. When the word of God works within us, the Spirit of God, who is God Himself, through the word spontaneously dispenses God's nature with God's element into our being; in this way we are reconstituted—2 Tim. 3:16-17.
5. As a result of being reconstituted through the ministry of Ezra, Israel (in type) became a particular nation, a nation sanctified and separated unto God, expressing God—Isa. 49:6; 60:1-3; Zech. 4:2:
a. They were transfused with the thought of God, with the considerations of God, and with all that God is; this made them God's reproduction.
b. By this kind of divine constitution, everyone became God in life and in nature; as a result, they became a divine nation expressing the divine character—1 Pet. 2:9.
c. The returned captives were reconstituted personally and corporately to become God's testimony.
D. In the Lord's recovery today, we need Ezras to do a purifying work and to con-stitute God's people by educating them with the divine truths so that they may be God's testimony, His corporate expression, on earth—2 Tim. 2:2, 15; 1 Tim. 3:15.

III. The crucial point in the book of Nehemiah is that the city of Jerusalem with its wall was a safeguard and protection for the house of God within the city:

A. The rebuilding of the house of God typifies God's recovery of the degraded church, and the rebuilding of the wall of the city of Jerusalem typifies God's recovery of His kingdom; God's building of His house and of His kingdom go together—Matt. 16:18-19.
B. The city of God is the enlarged, strengthened, and built-up church as the ruling center for God's reign in His kingdom; eventually, in God's economy the house of God becomes the holy city, the New Jerusalem, as God's eternal habitation and the ruling center of His eternal kingdom—Rev. 21:2-3, 22; 22:3.
C. When we realize and enjoy Christ as our life, we have the church as the house of God; if we go further and realize His headship, the house will be enlarged to be the city, the kingdom of God—Eph. 1:22-23; 4:15; Rev. 22:1.
D. Nehemiah's aggressiveness shows us the need for the proper aggressiveness in the Lord's recovery today:
1. The leaders of the Moabites and Ammonites were greatly displeased about Nehemiah's seeking the good of the children of Israel; these descendants of the impure increase of Lot hated and despised the children of Israel—Neh. 2:10, 19; cf. Ezek. 25:3, 8.
2. In relation to the mocking, despising, and reproach of these opposers, Nehe-miah was very pure and aggressive, not cowardly—Neh. 2:17-20; 3:1-6; cf. Acts 4:29-31; 1 Thes. 2:2; 2 Tim. 1:7-8.
3. It is the aggressive ones who receive help from God; like Nehemiah, the apostle Paul was allied with God and realized God's assistance in this alli-ance—Acts 26:21-22.
4. Nehemiah's aggressiveness, as a virtue in his human conduct, shows that our natural capacity, ability, and virtues must pass through the cross of Christ and be brought into resurrection, into the Spirit as the consum-mation of the Triune God, to be useful to God in the accomplishing of His economy.
5. Nehemiah did not live in his natural man but in resurrection; he was a pat-tern of what a leader among God's people should be; he was aggressive (cf. Neh. 2:1-8), but his aggressiveness was accompanied by other characteris-tics:
a. In his relationship with God he was one who loved God and also loved God's interests on the earth, including the Holy Land (signifying Christ), the holy temple (signifying the church), and the holy city (signifying the kingdom of God)—cf. 2 Tim. 3:1-5.
b. As a person who loved God, Nehemiah prayed to God to contact Him in fellowship; for the rebuilding of the wall, Nehemiah stood on God's word and prayed according to it—Neh. 1:1-11; 2:4; 4:4-5, 9.
c. Nehemiah trusted in God and even became one with God; as a result, he became the representative of God—5:19; cf. 2 Cor. 5:20.
d. In his relationship with the people, Nehemiah was altogether unselfish, without any self-seeking or self-interest; he was always willing to sacri-fice what he had for the people and for the nation—Neh. 4:18; 5:10, 14-19; 13:27-30.
E. The great and high wall of the holy city is for our separation unto God, the pro-tection of God's interests, and the expression of God:
1. The function of the wall of the city is to separate, to sanctify, the city unto God from all things other than God, thus making the city the holy city— Rev. 21:2a, 10b; 1 Pet. 1:15-16; 2 Cor. 6:14—7:1:
a. The wall of the holy city, the New Jerusalem, is built with jasper, and the foundations of the wall of the city are adorned with every precious stone—Rev. 21:18-20:
1) By our growth in the divine life in Christ as the precious stone (1 Pet. 2:4), we are transformed into precious stones (1 Cor. 3:12a).
2) Precious stones indicate transformation; the more we are transformed, themoreweare separated—Rom. 12:2.
b. While the transformation work of the Spirit is going on in the divine life, we, the transformed precious stones, are being built up together to be one complete wall with its foundations—1 Cor. 3:6-12a.
2. The function of the wall of the city is to protect the interests of the riches of God's divinity on the earth and the attainments of Christ's consummation; we must put out the pure truth from the Word for this protection—cf. John 17:17.
3. The function of the wall of the city is to express God; God's appearance is like jasper, and the jasper wall signifies that the whole city, as the corporate expression of God in eternity, bears the appearance of God—Rev. 4:3; 21:18.

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