June 22, 2017
Introduction to Ezra
Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth: and He hath charged me to build a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Ezra 1:2
LET IT GLOW
How about a new beginning? The excitement of it all. It may come in the form of another birthday, another anniversary, a move into a new house or community, the joining of a new church, starting a new job or new project. Yes, we seem to thrive on the new beginnings. We find it here in the very beginning of this book.
Here is some background of Ezra the man and the book:
- Ezra was the author of this book, a scribe-priest, whose name means "Jehovah helps." He was a descendent of Aaron, the high priest.
- This book was written in Aramaic.
- After he arrived in Jerusalem, Ezra changed from writing in the third person (chapters 1-6) to the first person (chapters 7-10).
- He shows how God fulfilled His promise by returning His people to the land of Judah after 70 years of captivity by Babylon. We read the promise in the last two verses of 2 Chronicles.
- Cyrus, the king of Persia, overthrew Babylon in 539 B.C., and Ezra wrote this book concerning the first year of his reign.
- Daniel held a high position in Darius the Mede, who was the father-in-law of Cyrus, so Cyrus was familiar to the teachings of Jehovah.
- There were 3 deportations of Judah into Babylon, likewise, there were 3 returns to Jerusalem.
- The first return was lead by Zerubbabel in 538 B.C. with 50,000 Jews to rebuild the Temple; the second was lead by Ezra in 458 B.C. with 2,000 Jews some 80 years later to reform the spiritual and religious restoration; the third was lead by Nehemiah some 13 years later in 445 B.C. to rebuild the city walls and gates, but not the houses.
- Since Ezra was a scribe, he had access to the collection of Persian administrative documents-decrees, proclamations, letters, lists, genealogies, and memorandas.
LET IT GROW
What are the main themes or primary message of this book from various references?
- God orchestrated the past grim situation (captivity) and would continue to work through a pagan king and his successors to give Judah hope for the future (return). God's administration overrides that of any of the kings of this world and, thus, the Book of Ezra is a message of God's continuing covenant grace to Israel. (MacArthur)
- It shows God's faithfulness and the way He kept His promise to restore His people to their land.(Life Application Study Bible)
- The Word of the Lord is the theme of the Book of Ezra according to J. Vernon McGee. There are 10 direct references to God's Word in this little book. It is seen in the lives of these people: religious, business, and political.
- God kept a "lamp lit" at Jerusalem in order that His Son might be born through the Hebrew nation and come to save the world. (Wiersbe)
The God who created the world and who is sovereign over history itself can predict the future. Their deliverance was from the LORD, not from Cyrus, a mere interment in the hand of God. (Falwell)
Forever He is glorified and lifted high; forever He is risen and alive, as the song goes. What an awesome God we serve! He kept a remnant for Jesus to be born a Jew, His beloved. He keeps His promises today, sweet one. Let us trust Him in our life.
LET IT GO
Let each day be a new beginning as I serve God.
Endure through those hard times as the Jews did through their captivity.
Trust the Word of God to be truth; He is faithful to His children, loving us in and through the hard times.