Ezra shows us how G-d puts it into the heart of a non-Jewish king, King Cyrus, to not only release the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, but to fund it all. Sweet! Had Pharaoh cooperated so readily with G-d, a lot of people would have not died, including Pharaoh’s son.
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. 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. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
According to the introduction to the book of Ezra in my Matthew Henry Study Bible (KJV), “The purpose of the book seems to be threefold: 1. To show the providence of God as He cares for His people in the face of hostile neighbors, 2. To show the importance and wisdom of obedience, 3. To underline the importance of distinctness of belief and separation from ungodly practice.” The major theme is “Restoration: getting back to basics.”
As I read the first six chapters of Ezra, I was struck by the following:
- As shown in the book of Jonah, and now in Ezra, non-Jews can acknowledge G-d as The G-d of All and obey Him;
- G-d sees to it that even when He allows His people to be hauled into captivity—which perhaps provides a modern analogy for backsliding into sin—He finds a way for them to return to His service;
- Once G-d’s people return, there is resistance to their efforts to rebuild their spiritual lives;
- G-d’s prophets must stir up the people AND appeal to non-Jewish leaders to honor previously granted commitments to G-d’s people while declaring they are following the G-d of Israel;
- Once again, a non-rebellious, non-Jewish leader looks reasonably into the records and sees that the Jews are entitled to rebuild their temple, and commits to help also.
I plan to finish off the book before expounding upon these initial points. Perhaps y’all might take a look at Ezra and we can dialogue on it.
Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .