Ezra

Is God sovereign?  If so, is He sovereign over all people?  All rulers, even pagan kings?  Does He control history?  Does God orchestrate events for His own purposes? Is God sovereign throughout time?  Does God allow opposition to His plan and His people? The answers are found in our study of Ezra.

As 2 Chronicles ended, the nation of Judah fell to the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar.  The temple was destroyed and the people were taken captive to Babylon where they would spend the next 70 years.

Years later, the Babylonians are conquered by the Persians under Cyrus the Great. As the book of Ezra opens, King Cyrus of Persia has issued a decree that any Jews who want can go back to Jerusalem, settle there and rebuild the temple.   Isaiah had prophesied this 200 years earlier even calling Cyprus by name!!!  (See Isaiah 44:28; 45:1-4, 13).  The prophet Jeremiah has said that the Jews would be captive 70 years and guess what?  He was right also!  (See Jeremiah 25:8-13; 29:10-14).  How did these guys know? They were prophets of the most high God and He knows all.  Isaiah 46:10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.

About 50,000 Jews go back to Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel from the former royal family – tribe of Judah, line of David.  He is not king, but he leads the people.  They lay the foundation and sing the victory song that we see throughout the Bible     “…His love endures forever…”.

As they began to build the temple itself, they faced all kinds of opposition, disruption and postponement.  Even as they were obediently following God, they had problems.  God does not promise a perfect life here for us on earth.  He does bless our obedience, but He also allows trials. Ahauserus (or Xerxes) became king of Persia and halted the temple work altogether for 14 years.  After that, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah encouraged Zerubbabel to get the building program started again.  Once more there was opposition by the local governor, but the new king of Persia – Darius overruled and let the Jews finish the building.  The temple was completed March 15, 515 BC.

Over 50 years pass between chapters 6 & 7.  Ezra himself finally shows up in this book. He was not even born when Zerubbabel built the temple.   He became a scribe and a lawyer and was living in Persia.  God’s hand was on him.  The king Artaxerxes of Persia allowed Ezra to return to Jerusalem.  He took other Jews, scribes, Levites, singers, gatekeepers and others with him. He went to Jerusalem, restored the temple, got the people back on track and was a great and godly leader.  Ezra’s life and attitude can be summed up in chapter 7.

“For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to obey it and to teach his statues and rules in Israel.” (7:10)

What have you set your heart to do?

I pray that we will be like Ezra and set our hearts to STUDY, OBEY and TEACH God’s laws.  Another way of stating it is:  Study it!  Do it!!  Pass it on!!!

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