Read Ezra 1 -- 2

In Today's Reading:

Cyrus' proclamation to rebuild the Temple; list of the Jews who returned from captivity

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, You shall be built; and to the Temple, Your foundation shall be laid . . . and he shall let go My captives (Isaiah 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 (Jeremiah 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 . . . saying . . . 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).

There was 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 (Numbers 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; Deuteronomy 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 (Romans 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 Corinthians 13:11).

Christ Portrayed:

By Sheshbazzar, another name for Zerubbabel, the prince (governor) of Judah (Ezra 1:8). Christ is both the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).

Word Studies:

1:6 strengthened their hands = gave them assistance; 2:43 Nethinims = Temple servants; 2:63 Tirshatha = governor.

Pray For:

The International Shortwave Radio Broadcast sponsored by a family that loves Jesus · Staff: Dr. John A. Hash · Government Officials (Listed on their Birthdays): Rep. Tim Bishop (NY) and Rep. Mark Green (WI) · Country: Congo, Republic of the (2 million) in west-central Africa · Major languages: French and Lingala · Limited religious freedom, but government hostility has lessened · 41% Roman Catholic; 20% fetishism and belief in ancestral spirits; 17% Protestant; 9% cults · Prayer Suggestion: Rejoice that our Savior was born (Luke 2:11).

Optional Reading: II 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 11:25