We have been doing a study in the book of Ezra about the return of exiles to the city of Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding the temple.
As I read on in chapter 3 I noticed what I would call an Impact Statement. “When the seventh month came…the people assembled as one man in Jerusalem. (they) began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God.” So far so good. They were putting first things first: worship, connecting with God.
Then in verse 3, it says: “Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord.” What a picture of the challenge of obedience. We often know what God wants us to do. We even have assurance of what He wants us to do by virtue of the provisions He has made. But our fear of what people around us might be thinking often cripples and immobilizes us.
I like what this says: “Despite their fear of the people around them, they built the altar.”
We have a choice when we feel people around us staring at us, watching to see what we’re doing. It could be when we sit down to eat in a restaurant and someone suggests we pray. Do we join those praying by bowing our heads in respect to God? Are we willing to have a Bible study in a restaurant with open Bibles? When a question of faith comes up in a conversation with unbelievers are we willing to give an answer?
Remember this Impact Statement: Despite their fear of the people around them, they obeyed God.