Ezra not only strengthened and enriched the recovery, he also purified it. Before he arrived, there was a mixture. Some of the Israelites had married heathen wives and children were born of this mixture. This is a type which we should not apply literally, but spiritually. The recovery is the holy seed. Anything we receive which is not holy is a mixture. In some places where there were recoveries in the past, a mixture existed. The recovery is holy, but some of the things taken in are not so holy. Therefore, there is a mixture, and Ezras are needed to purify. Ezra was the one who purified the recovery. In the local churches we must be so pure, so simple, with no mixture. The problem is that many of us who have come back from Babylon have brought our background with us. Our background creates the mixture. In the Lord’s recovery, there is the need of purification to separate the holy seed from anything that is heathen. Do not bring into the local churches the things that you did in the denominations, no matter how good they are. That is the bringing in of heathen wives. This does not mean that we are proud, but that we must let go of our background. We all must learn to give up the things of our background, regardless of how good they are. We must be so pure that the holy seed will never be mingled with anything heathen.
When the recovery is holy, we will see the Lord’s blessing. In some places, the reason the blessing was frustrated was the mixture caused by the background. We have been condemned many times for not inviting others to speak in our meetings. We are not proud, but we are really careful. If we invite outside speakers to come, they will bring in “heathen wives.” In the past we tried this, but it only caused trouble. So we have learned the lesson. This does not mean that we are narrow, but that the recovery is so pure, so single, and so holy. We do need the Ezras to do a purifying work. The Lord does not like any kind of mixture. In the Lord’s creation, everything was “after its kind.” If it is an apple, it must be from an apple tree; if it is a peach, it must be from a peach tree. We must be simple and after our kind. We need to be pure, strict, simple, and after our kind! If we are the denominations, we should just be the denominations. If we are the free groups, we should just be the free groups. We should not say that we are anything else. If we are the local church, we should just be the local church. We must be so simple, so single, so pure, and so genuine after our kind. We must be absolute. The Lord never honors any kind of a mixture. It must be after its kind.
Ezra’s work was to strengthen, enrich, and purify. He not only purified the people after the building up of the temple, but he purified them again for the building up of the city. In both Ezra and Nehemiah, there was the purification: one was after the building of the temple, and the other was after the building up of the city. In all the steps of the Lord’s recovery, there is the need of purification.
THE PROTECTION OF THE CITY
We have seen the work of Zerubbabel, Joshua, Haggai, Zechariah, and Ezra. Is not this good enough? There is the return, the recovery of the building, the strengthening, the enriching, and the purifying. This is good, but it is not sufficient. There is still the need of the work of Nehemiah for the protection. There is the temple, but not the city. The temple needs the protection of the city. The temple is the house, and the city is the kingdom. The house of God needs the kingdom of God as the protection. So after Ezra, there is the need of Nehemiah. Nehemiah eventually became the governor of Judah. The kingship must be brought in for the kingdom.
We have seen these six persons: Zerubbabel, Joshua, Haggai, Zechariah, Ezra, and Nehemiah. Zerubbabel represents the kingship, and Joshua the priesthood. Haggai and Zechariah represent the prophets—Haggai to stir up and Zechariah to reveal Christ. Ezra is the priestly scribe to strengthen, enrich, and purify. Nehemiah came in for the protection, which is the submission to divine authority. In the local churches, we must have the house of God, and we must also have the city of God, which is the kingdom. The house of God depends mostly upon the priesthood—to contact the Lord, to be saturated with the Lord, and to be one with the Lord. This is the start of the recovery, but there is still the need of the headship, the kingdom, and the divine authority. The church is for the kingdom—that is, the house is for the city. Eventually the house of God becomes the holy city, the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2-3). In the New Jerusalem, there is no temple (Rev. 21:22), because the temple has been enlarged into the city. This means that the city and the temple are mingled as one. This is the eternal protection. Simply to have the house is not adequately safe. We need the protection of the kingdom. This is the ministry of Nehemiah, the last governor in the recovery. The first was Zerubbabel, and the last was Nehemiah.
In the Lord’s recovery, there is the need of these six persons. One by one they all contributed something which was necessary and vital. I love these recovery books. They have exactly the things that we need today in the Lord’s recovery. We need Zerubbabel; we need Joshua; we need Haggai; we need Zechariah; we need Ezra; and we need Nehemiah. Nehemiah brings in the protection of the city. As long as we do not have the city, we are not safe. We need a certain kind of protection as the outskirts of the house of God. The city is just the outskirts of the temple. With this there is the protection to the Lord’s recovery. Eventually the house, the temple, will be mingled with the city in the New Jerusalem, providing protection for eternity!
(The Recovery of God's House and God's City, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)