This letter to Ezra contains many blessings from this pagan king. King Artaxerxes may not be an Israelite, but he certainly holds God in high regard. Many believers don’t have the same respect as this king. The time of exile must have made quite an impact on the kingly leadership of that day. Those who stayed faithful became tremendous testimonies to the majesty and grace of the great God we serve.
Anytime we can share our witness with others, we can make a difference. You never know who is watching. You never know how God is going to use any of the people you encounter. Ezra wanted to study and bring awareness to his own people, yet he was clearly spreading a message to non-believers as well.
Continue reading “Ezra 7:11-26 – A King’s Provision”
We finally meet the reformer, Ezra, and we’re seven chapters into his book. Isn’t it something that Ezra can track his lineage all the way back to Aaron! This new section will take place roughly 60 years after what we’ve just read. Fun fact: the story from the Book of Esther would have taken place during the 60-year gap.
I’m going to insert a bit of caution here to not get caught up on the dates and timelines. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are more theologically focused and less intended as historical references.
Continue reading “Ezra 7:1-10 – Meet Ezra”
The first part of Ezra and the temple restoration ends with this passage – the celebration of Passover. It sounds like this was the first time the returnees celebrated this festival of remembrance since being back “home.” What a beautiful bridge to close the chapter of their past wrongs and open the new chapter full of promise of following the Lord and his decrees.
To celebrate the Passover is to remember how God showed up powerfully to save you. We can celebrate what Jesus did for us every day! Sharing in this celebration was a brilliant way to signify a unified heart devoted to God. Such a fitting end to the dedication festivities!
Continue reading “Ezra 6:19-22 – Passover Celebration”
At last, the temple was completed. The people had successfully fulfilled God’s vision and command with the help of three Persian kings. What an amazing feat!
Can you imagine the emotions that were flowing amongst the Israelite people? I imagine a sense of relief mingled with exhaustion and anticipation for all the ministry that would take place. The people had finally rebuilt the place where God could reside among them. Over these years, the people had stayed focused on their mission and not let the distractions get them off course.
Continue reading “Ezra 6:13-18 – The Dedication”
As we expected, King Darius confirmed the Israelite’s story. It took a little digging from the sounds of it, but the message was exactly as Tattenai had been told. Did you love King Darius’ response to the meddling Tattenai and his cohorts! “[S]tay away from there!” In other words, don’t mess with the Israelites.
King Darius took it a step farther as well. He decreed that Tattenai actually help the Israelites. The king’s instructions left little doubt of what should be done. I can just about feel Tattenai’s blood boiling even after all of these generations. He was probably very sorry that he had “opened that can of worms” when he first made his inquiries.
Continue reading “Ezra 6:1-12 – Stamp of Approval”