Ezra 1

Ezra 1 has Cyrus taking the throne in Persia “that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled”.  God gave the Persian king a sense of urgency about rebuilding the house of the Lord and the walls of Jerusalem.  It happens in his first year as king, not down the road in his reign.

The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom”.  Cyrus made a decree giving the Jewish exiles in his empire the right to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.

Cyrus has a special place in God’s plan here.  Cyrus says God “has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem”.  That’s a pretty bold proclamation.  It is a remarkable recognition of God’s hand upon his life.  He knew God had a plan for him to achieve.  It’s a call similar to the one David received and Solomon fulfilled, to go and build the temple of the Lord.  So he calls on the people to return from exile and be part of the rebuilding of their land.

Only a small percentage decided to return from exile; but those who did needed the encouragement to know they were making a valuable contribution to God’s work.  Though the returning exiles were a minority, they were a spirit-stirred minority. They were dedicated to the difficult and discouraging task of returning to a ruined city.  It was essential that God move the spirits of these returning exiles, because they faced many difficulties:

  • The journey itself was long, dangerous, and expensive.
  • They returned to a city in ruins without proper homes, roads, or support systems.
  • They didn’t have all the resources they needed.
  • They didn’t all return to Jerusalem but spread out over the province of Judea.
  • They had many enemies.
  • Their land was actually the possession of another people.

Cyrus the king also brought out the vessels of the house of the Lord that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away”.  When Jerusalem was conquered the remaining treasures of the temple were taken to Babylon.  Now those things are being returned.  They were carefully listed and managed by Sheshbazzar who was the prince of Judah.  They were valuable and it shows the generosity of Cyrus as he returns the treasures of God’s house after they had been lying in a heathen temple for the last two generations.  God has a plan that Cyrus is fulfilling!

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