Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away…
We regard the people returning from Babylon as typical of men going out of the worldly life into the life and work of the kingdom of God. Observe -
I. THAT MEN FORSAKE THE WORLDLY LIFE FROM CHOICE. Cyrus compelled no man to leave the land of captivity. The Jews left Babylon in the exercise of their own free will. Israel as a nation went out of Egypt; but as individuals they come out of Babylon. Heaven compels no man to forsake sin.
1. It was a good choice. It was better to build the temple than to work in Babylon; the spiritual is better than the servile; it is good to serve God.
2. It was a wise choice. They would be honoured as the heroic builders of the second temple; and how would they be blessed in their holy toil. It is wise to choose the unworldly life.
3. It was a self-denying choice. They had to leave friends and companions behind; they had to forsake vested interests, and enter an unknown future. The unworldly life necessitates self-denial, but the reward is a hundredfold.
4. It was a believing choice. They believed that God would be with them, and that his angel would go before them. There are great duties in the pursuit of an unworldly life; there are many temples to erect, but God is an infinite resource.
II. THAT THERE ARE NUMEROUS ENCOURAGEMENTS TO MEN FORSAKING THE WORLDLY LIFE.
1. They have encouragements of a spiritual nature. "The priests" are with them (ver. 36). All that belongs to heaven's priesthood goes along with the unworldly life in its march from Babylon.
2. They have encouragements of a social nature (ver. 64). The companionships of the unworldly life are helpful.
3. They have encouragements of a joyful nature. "The singers" are with them (ver. 41). And men who seek to live an unworldly life are accompanied by many celestial joys.
4. They have encouragements of a varied nature. There were many to aid in unnumbered ways the people in their new work.
III. THAT IN FORSAKING THE WORLDLY LIFE MEN MUST BE SOLICITOUS AS TO THE EVIDENCES OF THEIR MORAL REALITY. "But they could not show their father's house" (vers. 59-63). These were with the returning people, and to all appearance as loyal as any of them, but they could not prove their oneness with them.
1. There is a register within. Are the dispositions of a renewed life within us? have we the testimony of a good conscience?
2. There is a register around us. Whom do men say that we are? Are our lives such as become the builders of God's temple?
3. There is a register above us. God's witness is true. The register is soon lost by sin. Let us not sacrifice it to temporal gain; let us not sacrifice it by marriage (ver. 61). If we lose it we shall be morally unclean, spiritually depraved, and eternally cast out (vers. 62, 63). We must prove our religion as well as possess it.
IV. THAT IN FORSAKING THE WORLDLY LIFE MEN MUST GIVE THEMSELVES ENTIRELY TO THE NEW TOILS THAT DEVOLVE UPON THEM (vers. 68-70).
1. They came to the work. "They came to the house of the Lord which is at Jerusalem." Sight quickens activity. The ruined temple would awaken a sense of duty.
2. They gave to the work. "They gave after their ability." Ability is the universal law of service. Men who enter upon the unworldly life must be ready for all the work of the Lord. - E.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city;
WEB: Now these are the children of the province, who went up out of the captivity of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away to Babylon, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his city;