Three things are rebuilt during the Return Era:
When I was in Gulfport, MS after Katrina hit, the community we were working in focused their energy first on rebuilding their church before rebuilding their own homes. This is similar to the exiles’ return. Worship is central. For the Jews, rebuilding the Temple meant they had a central place of worship again. And if they have a place of worship, they can connect with God again.
In Ezra 7.6 we read: He [Ezra] was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the Lord, the God of Israel, had given.
Ezra was a skilled leader of the Word of God. Ezra studies the word, he lives the word, and he teaches the word. And because he is skilled at this, he is able to help rebuild the people.
Nehemiah rebuilds THE WALL
He says this in Nehemiah 2.17: “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.”
The wall, completed in 52 days, gave those that returned protection on all sides.
The return was complete
Ezra led the people to rebuild Jerusalem and they did: Zerubbabel rebuilt the temple, Ezra rebuilt the people, and Nehemiah rebuilt the wall. The people have a new chance to live as God’s distinctive people.
Exile is not the end of the story. It’s not even the end of the Old Testament. The Return Era is all about rebuilding and my hope is that some of you reading this will realize exile is not the end. You can come home. You can be rebuilt. You can be restored. You can be put back on the foundation of God with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone.