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“The last two chapters of Ezra are taken up with the account of a further reformation in the midst of the people. The matter is introduced by the author with the phrase ‘After these things were done,’ which indicates that the matter addressed here followed the restoration of pure worship in Jerusalem. It was the reformation of worship which disposed the hearts of the people to be sensitive to their sins, and particularly to the way in which their violation of the law of Moses had introduced the leaven of corruption that ultimately led to the defilement of the Temple and its ordinances.

The people of Israel, as well as the priests and Levites, had not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands and had married foreign wives. The focus of the required separation was not ethnic but religious, for the author tells us that it was ‘with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites’ that this failure of separation had corrupted the people. Having reestablished the primacy of pure worship at the heart of society, the people were convicted that this influence must be forsaken and the unholy unions dissolved.

Thus, reformation of worship led to reformation of life, in order to guard against the trends which would inevitably lead back to compromise with idolatry. In Christ, a believing spouse is instructed not to divorce an unbeliever (1 Cor.7:12-15), but the principle of separation from the corrupting influence of idolatry remains (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1). Those who reverence God and His pure worship are sensible of any threat of compromise and ready to reform their lives accordingly.

Thus, the book of Ezra shows us…

1. The centrality of the temple in the worship of the saints-under the Old Covenant, the earthly temple as a type of the more perfect heavenly temple, picturing the glories to be revealed in Christ-under the New Covenant, the heavenly tabernacle, seen in the simplicity of the church’s worship.

2. The effect that genuine reformation of worship should have upon our hearts, producing a mixture of mourning over what has been lost of the glorious beauty of God in the services of His people, with a glad and exalting hope of the restoration of pure worship according to God’s perfect Word.

3. The need for careful discernment in the work of reformation, excluding every influence that tends to compromise the pure worship of God, and guarding against syncretism, or the blending of man-made worship with the worship that God has commanded in the Scriptures.

4. The necessity of a Biblical warrant for all that is done in the house of the Lord, as seen in the reiteration of the Regulative Principle of Worship by king Artaxerxes, and the emphasis throughout the book upon written authority as the basis for all that is done in the restoration of God’s worship
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5. The inescapable connection between reformation of worship and reformation of life. Worship lays the groundwork for all else, just as the second table of the law flows out of the first.” (Comin, 156-158)

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