Highlights In Today's Reading:
God stirs hearts: 1st of King Cyrus to send the Israelites to rebuild the Temple and return its vessels confiscated by Nebuchadnezzar (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).
When Cyrus began conquering the world, he did not know that the One True God was giving him the victories. But it was God who inspired Jeremiah to predict the exact year Cyrus would conquer Babylon (Jer. 25:12) and Isaiah to write: I am the Lord. . . . I girded thee, though thou hast not known Me (Is. 45:5).
Seventy years had passed since Nebuchadnezzar had taken King Jehoiakim, Daniel, and other captives along with the vessels of the House of the Lord to Babylon (II Chr. 36:6-7). Daniel, who lived in Babylon from the time of Nebuchadnezzar until the reign of Cyrus (Dan. 10:1), knew that Jeremiah had prophesied that there would be 70 years of captivity (Jer. 25:8-12; 29:10; Dan. 9:2). Daniel also had to have known that Isaiah had prophesied more than 200 years before that Babylon would be overthrown by a man named Cyrus and that the Lord had said of this heathen monarch: He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure (Is. 44:21-28; 45:1,5). When Daniel began to see these events coming to pass, it prompted him to fervently pray.
History records that Cyrus proclaimed in Babylon: 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 (Ezra 1:2-3).
Most of the new generation of Judah had never been in Jerusalem and had no reason to leave Babylon except to rebuild the Temple in the old, ruined city of Jerusalem about 900 miles away. Only a few were willing to hazard the long and difficult four-month journey on foot, sacrifice all the social and material pleasures available under the new Persian Empire, and return with Zerubbabel to the place where they could restore true worship of God (1:5). The Jews desired to please the Lord and build the House of the Lord God . . . in Jerusalem (1:3).
Each of us must decide what is most important in our life. Are we motivated by secular goals, worldly possessions, and pleasures, or are we like Ezra and the few faithful Jews who seek . . . first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33)?
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 • Arabic International Shortwave Broadcasts for the month of June sponsored by Mary Hoffmeyer • English International Shortwave Broadcasts to all of Africa sponsored by Thomas & Marrianne Beaghan • Radio Sri Lanka Broadcasts for the month of June sponsored by Mrs. Charlene Black • Staff: Dr. John A. Hash • Government Officials: Rep. Tim Bishop (NY) and Rep. Gregg Harper (MS) • Country: Nicaragua (5 million) in Central America • Major languages: Spanish and English • Limited religious freedom • 95% Roman Catholic; 5% Protestant • Prayer Suggestion: Remember that the Lord is faithful to keep His promises (Heb. 10:23).
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