Have To Vs. Want To from Ezra 3:7-13

Introduction: One of the topics people least like to hear preached about is money. Similarly, one of the topics pastors least like to preach about is money.  Why is that? There are many reasons but I think part of it is we have made it about  a“have to” instead of “want to”. Today we will look at how Ezra 3 moves us from the “have to” to “want to”

First, let me share a story I heard in a sermon by Erick Sorenson. A $100 bill, a $20 bill, and a $1 bill met up with each other at the shredder at the end of their natural lives. The $100 said, “Well, I’ve had a good life. I’ve seen the whole world. I’ve been on cruises in Caribbean, safaris in Africa, and vacations in Europe.”

The $20 said, “Well, I’ve not done quite as well, but I have been to Atlantic City, Disneyland, and Starbucks.”

They both turned to $1 bill and asked, “How about you?” He said, “Oh, I’ve seen the whole nation from coast to coast. I’ve been from church to church to church...”  The $100 bill asked, “What’s a church?”   

·         Money (vs. 7-9)

o   Vs. 7-They gave “money & food/drink/oil” for the purpose of rebuilding the temple.  Had they been told to give?  Yes. See 1:4 “And the people of any place…are to provide” & vs. 6 “all their neighbors  assisted them” Often we couch our giving in this “have to”. Make us feel guilt or shame for not giving with  all the needs out there, give till it hurts

o   But also look at Ezra 1:1 “the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia & vs. 5 “everyone whose heart God has moved.” God was working on their hearts.  What does that mean?  Was he forcing the money out of their hands? Or were they remembering in their hearts the faithful God who had brought them out of exile? the God who was for them, loved them & provided food in the wildnerness, brought them out of Egypt, led them through the Red Sea? So out of a response of thankfulness and gratitude, they gave of their resources.

o   “Have To”-Why do we not give? I am selfish. I want the newest gadget. I like to eat out rather than eat at home. I confuse often what I want with what I need. I do not like to wait for things. I like the acceptance and status that money can bring.

o   I worry how I will pay my bills. I focus on me and often what I perceive as lack.  But if you notice all of these reasons for not giving are focused on me, not on God. What could happen if we focused on God instead of our reasons for not giving?

o   “Want To”-Who is God?  He is Jehovah Jireh, God our provider (Genesis 22:14)

o   We have a God who is generous, loves to give gifts. 

§  See parable of vineyard workers-Matthew 20:1-16. Vs. 13,15-“Friend, I am not being unfair to you… Or are you envious because I am generous.”

§  Matthew 7:9-11- Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

o   This is why we are no longer giving medals, parties, or Bible Bucks at Hide N Seek.  The message that could be implied was rewards are based on our behavior not God’s. Jack Klumpenhower writes in Show Them Jesus “God’s greatest rewards are based on his generosity, not what we’ve earned. Our class would work the same way... We talked about how incredibly generous God is to us, how he gave his Son, and how good it is that his gift is based on his generosity rather than what we’ve earned. We considered how this should make us humble, content, and eager to share.”

o   Vs. 8-9They began the work—second month of 2nd year. Same month Solomon started building the temple (1 Kings 6:1) They appointed Levites to supervise the rebuilding.


·         Worship (vs. 10-13)

o   Vs. 10-When the builders laid the foundation of temple

§  “Have To”-Going Through the Motions-they did the things that were prescribed by David. The order followed was the same as when David brought the ark to Jerusalem.[1]

o   Vs. 11—“Want To”-with praise and thanksgiving-sang, shouted

§  He is good, his love to Israel endures forever

·         He put worship at the center of community life and emphasized God’s goodness and love.[2]

·         The word “love” (ḥeseḏ) is God’s covenantal loyal love which exists forever with His people Israel.[3]

·         Do you believe God is good? Not just in your head, but also your hearts and hands. A test might be what you do when you fail.  Do you hide or run to God?  Like a little child who has fallen of a bike runs to mom or dad.  We too can run to our good God when we fail.

o   Vs. 12-13-weeping or shouting

§  Older priests and Levites-weep because “they had seen the former temple”

·         (destroyed 50 years earlier in 586 b.c.) were discouraged. Perhaps they contrasted the roughness of the current project with the grandeur of the Solomonic temple.[4]

§  Others shout for joy

§  Could not distinguish shouts from weeping because people made so much noise and could be heard far away

§  How about our worship?  Are we just going through the “have to” motions? Show up and then go home.  Or are we praising Jesus because we “want to” because of his faithfulness to us through the week, thanking him for His goodness, brought to tears or our knees because the God of the universe came as a man and lived, died, and rose again because He loved us.


·         Redeemed

o   As we give or worship may it not be out of fear, guilt, or shame or “have to”

o   Instead may we “want to” joyfully give and worship out of gratitude and thankfulness for who God is.

§  He is faithful, generous, loves to give good gifts

§  He is good-song by HouseFires “You’re a good, good Father, It’s who you are, it’s who you are. And I am loved by you, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.

§  Galatians 2:20- 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

·         Picture from R. J. Grunewald with quote from Martin Luther

Closing: Spend 60 seconds thinking about Jesus and His love for you & how He gave His life for you.

[1] Martin, J. A. (1985). Ezra. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 659). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[2] Breneman, M. (1993). Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (electronic ed., Vol. 10, p. 95). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
[3] Martin, J. A. (1985). Ezra. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 659). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[4] Martin, J. A. (1985). Ezra. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 659). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.


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