Ezra chapters 1-2
FRIDAY, MAY 22
SCRIPTURE: Ezra chapters 1-2
Author: Jeremy Witt
As begin in verse 1, we read how God moved in the heart of one man, Cyrus the Great, to do His will. The most powerful man at the time was used by God without knowing it to fulfill God’s Word. IMMEDIATE APPLICATION: God is in control! God can use anyone to do His will and to fulfill His Word/promises even if they are not a believer. (See Jeremiah’s prophecy in Jeremiah 25:11-12.) Whether it be someone you love or hate, God can use them. He has used a donkey to speak! He has used some of the evilest leaders to do His Will. Never doubt what our God can do!
Cyrus had taken over the areas that were formerly Assyria and Babylon, both of which where the Jewish exiles were taken. Israel, the northern kingdom, was defeated by Assyria in 722 BC, and Judah, the southern kingdom, was defeated by Babylon in 586 BC.
In verses 5 and following, God stirred the hearts of the priests (Yes, God can stir the hearts of even preachers and pastors! Ha!) and leaders of the Jewish people to rebuild the Temple and give of sacrifices to do so. Cyrus even gave towards this project from his resources and of those that he had defeated (Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem 48 years earlier and kept the Temple’s furnishings. This is what Cyrus gave back and more.)
How did God move first in Cyrus, the priests, the leaders of the tribes, and in the Levites in verse 1 and verse 5? Do you see it? God moved in their hearts. Isn’t that how God moves in us today? When He captures our hearts, then He will move to change our ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and also our desires. These inner changes in our hearts lead to faithful actions on the outside. God begins in our hearts. Maybe we should be praying to that end for those without Christ? Let us pray for God to speak to their hearts. That is how true change will happen.
Again, we see God moving in ways that man would never expect. God is sovereign (all-powerful, knowing, and in control of every detail) and in my opinion, just showing off how big and good He is to the Jewish people. They never expected to see these Temple articles again. Yet God used Nebuchadnezzar to take them, keep them, protect them, and then use Cyrus to defeat him, and then give them back to the Jewish people. We should never doubt the power, protection, and sovereignty of our God. Somewhere in storage is the Ark of the Covenant (my opinion) that will be used in worship in the Temple that will be rebuilt in Jerusalem in preparations for the last days.
In verse 8, we are introduced to Zerubbabel. You might say where? His Persian name was Sheshbazzar. He was a governor within Cyrus’ kingdom. Just as Daniel served in the Babylonian kingdom, Zerubbabel did in the Persian kingdom.
Chapter two is essentially a list of those who went back to Jerusalem. As we know through the listings throughout Scripture, genealogy was important to the Jewish people. It still is today; however, many have lost trace of this, it will play a big role in the days ahead.