God stirred the hearts: 1st of King Cyrus to send the Israelites to rebuild the Temple and return its vessels confiscated by Nebuchadnezzar (Ezra 1:1-3,7-11); 2nd of the priests, Levites, tribal leaders, and others to willingly return to Jerusalem (1:5); 3rd of the ones left to help pay the expenses (1:6).
About 200 years before the time of Ezra, Isaiah had prophesied that Babylon would be overthrown by a man named Cyrus. The Lord said of this heathen king of Persia: He . . . shall perform all My pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the Temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. . . . and he shall let go My captives (Is. 44:28; 45:13). These prophecies reassured the Israelites that, following the judgment foretold by Jeremiah of 70 years of captivity due to their sins, God would restore them once again to the promised land (Jer. 25:11-12).
To fulfill that prophecy, the LORD stirred up the spirit (moved the heart) of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation. . . . Who is there among you of all His people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the House of the LORD God of Israel, (He is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. . . . Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the House of the LORD which is in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1,3,5).
Neither a pillar of fire by night nor a cloud by day to guide the way, and no manna fell from heaven as experienced many years before by their ancestors (Num. 9:15-16,22-23), but there is not one complaint recorded. This is in sharp contrast to the continual complaints of their ancestors, who had been miraculously released from Egypt (20:24; 27:14; Deut. 1:26,43; 9:23).
When we recognize that our Sovereign Creator controls everything that affects our lives, we can truly enjoy the peace of God, regardless of what happens, since all things work together for good to them that love God (Rom. 8:28). Believing this will remove all fear, depression, and discouragement, as well as faultfinding, anger, and strife. Our loving Lord is sovereign over all that takes place in our lives, including suffering and pain, and will use whatever happens in our lives to our ultimate advantage. Because of this, we can live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you (us) (II Cor. 13:11).
Thought for Today:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the First Commandment. And the Second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other Commandment greater (more important) than these (Mark 12:30-31).
By Sheshbazzar, another name for Zerubbabel, the prince (governor) of Judah (Ezra 1:8). Christ is both The Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6) and the Lion of the tribe of Juda (Rev. 5:5).
1:6 strengthened their hands =gave them assistance; 2:43 Nethinims =temple servants; 2:63 Tirshatha =governor.
Pray for our Military worldwide • Staff: Dr. John A. Hash • Government Officials: Rep. Tim Bishop (NY) and Rep. Gregg Harper (MS) • Country: Madagascar (15 million) an island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Mozambique • Major languages: French and Malagasy • Increasingly anti-Christian • 43% witchcraft, ancestor worship, and some astrology; 21% Protestant; 21% Roman Catholic; 2% Muslim • Prayer Suggestion: Be grateful for your inheritance as a child of the King (I Pet. 1:3-4).
Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 3
NOTE: Bible Pathway covers the Old Testament with devotional and commentary insights over a nine-month period, January through September. Each day during these months, an optional reading of one chapter a day from the New Testament will also be listed. The October, November, and December issues will provide a daily commentary on the New Testament readings. Thus, the reader goes through the New Testament twice each year using the Bible Pathway plan.
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 6:31