Read Ezra 1
God stirred the hearts of: (1) King Cyrus to send the Israelites to rebuild the Temple and return its vessels that had been confiscated by Nebuchadnezzar (Ezra 1:1-3,7-11); (2) the priests, Levites, tribal leaders, and others to willingly return to Jerusalem (1:5); (3) the ones left to help pay the expenses (1:6).
The Word of the Lord in Ezra 1:1 referred to prophecy given about 150 years earlier in Jeremiah 29:10: Thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform My good Word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
Israel's Northern Kingdom had been taken captive by the Assyrians, who were defeated by the Babylonians. Judah, the Southern Kingdom, was exiled by the Babylonians, who were later conquered by the Medes and Persians. As the Book opens (Ezra 1:1-6), Cyrus, king of Persia, made an amazing proclamation throughout his kingdom: The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He hath charged me to build Him an House at Jerusalem, which is in Judah (1:2), thereby permitting the Jews to return to Jerusalem . . . (to) build the House of the Lord God of Israel (1:3) as had first been foretold by Isaiah some two hundred years earlier, even to the naming of Cyrus as the conqueror (Is. 44:23-28; 45:1).
Ezra recorded that the first expedition was led by Zerubbabel, who was appointed governor by King Cyrus to rebuild the Temple and the Altar of the God of Israel (Ezra 5:14; Hag. 1:1,14; 2:2,21).
After arriving in Jerusalem with Zerubbabel, the returned exiles first built the Altar and observed the Feast (Festival) of Tabernacles (Booths) which commemorated the 2,000,000 Israelites' 40 years of trusting the Lord for daily food in the desert (Ezra 3:4).
No one except God could possibly accurately predict or foresee the events even of the next hour. There is only one explanation for the hundreds of prophecies in the Scriptures which have been fulfilled in every detail, hundreds of years after they were foretold. These prophecies have demonstrated that holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (Spirit) (II Pet. 1:21). Only God could have foretold the seventy years' captivity of Judah (Jer. 25:1-12) to be followed by its restoration (29:10; Is. 44:28). This One True God who controlled every world empire to fulfill this prophecy assures us that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28); and that no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly (Ps. 84:11).
Thought for Today:
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith (Matt. 6:30)?
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 (Judah) (Rev. 5:5).
1:1 perfect blameless; 1:6 strengthened their hands have them assistance; 2:43 Nethinims temple servants; 2:63 Tirshatha governor.
Pray for our Military worldwide • International Broadcasts in honor of Rev. Ed & Betty Britton • Staff: Dr. John A. Hash • Government Officials: Rep. Tim Bishop (NY) and Rep. Gregg Harper (MS) • Country: Ireland (3.7 million) off the coast of western Europe • Major languages: English and Irish (Gaelic) • Religious freedom • 92% Catholic; 3.7% Anglican; 1% Other Protestant; .2% Muslim; .1% Jewish; 2% Other; 1% None • Prayer Suggestion: Keep the Word of God and pray to Him who has given you an open door into His presence (Rev. 3:8).
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: John 15:12