June 1

Ezra 1

Highlights In Today's Reading:

The hostages are free after 70 years of captivity! Note why in verse 1. Individuals from all of the tribes are included in the return, but check out the direct line of their leader — Zerubbabel (Luke 3:27). Note how many returned (Ezra 2:64-69). Who gets rejected (2:61-62)?

The Word of the Lord in Ezra 1:1 refers 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 had been taken captive first by the Assyrians who were defeated by the Babylonians, who, in turn, were 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: Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, 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 prophecied. This first had been foretold by Isaiah some two hundred years earlier, even to naming of Cyrus as the conqueror (Isaiah 44:23-28; 45:1).

During the 70-year captivity, despite appearances to the contrary, the prophets encouraged the exiles concerning their restoration and foretold that they would rebuild Jerusalem.

Ezra records that the first expedition was led by Zerubbabel, who was appointed governor by King Cyrus to rebuild the Temple and altar of the God of Israel (Ezra 5:14; Haggai 1:1,14; 2:2,21).

After arriving in Jerusalem with Zerubbabel, the returned exiles first built an altar and observed the Feast (Festival) of Tabernacles (Booths) which commemorates the 2,000,000 Israelites' 40 years of trusting the Lord for daily food in the dessert (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 to the hundreds of detailed 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 Peter 1:21). Only God could have foretold the seventy years' captivity of Judah (Jeremiah 25:1-12) to be followed by its restoration (29:10; Isaiah 44:28). This One True God who controlled every world empire to fulfill this prophesy assures us — that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28) and no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11).

Thought for Today:

God's promises always come to pass exactly as He says. He knows when and how to meet our needs, our task is to wait on the Lord.

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 Juda (Revelation 5:5).

Word Studies:

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

Prayer Needs:

Pray for our Military worldwide • International Shortwave Radio Broadcasts sponsored by Gloria Schmidt; Arabic International Shortwave Radio Broadcasts for the month of June sponsored by Mary Hoffmeyer • Government Official: Rep. Tim Bishop (NY) • Country: Saudi Arabia (20.9 million) on the Arabian Peninsula in southwestern Asia • Major language: Arabic • Christian worship services for foreign personnel are tolerated, but those who seek to convert Muslims to Christianity face persecution • 86% Sunni (Wahabi) Muslim; 10% Shi'ite Muslim; 1% Ismaili Muslim; 3% Others (including 600,000 Christians and some Hindus and Buddhists) • Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord to give you boldness and opportunities to share the Gospel with others (Colossians 4:3-4).

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: 2 Corinthians 1:5