Ezra 7:1-10 – Meet Ezra

Read Ezra 7:1-10

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 The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are more theologically focused and less intended as historical references.

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Ezra 2 – Logistics and Details

Read Ezra 2:1-70

I’m marveling at the details we are given here. When you move thousands of people, animals, and treasures, the need for a good plan is crucial. I found myself skimming over the names, looking for someone I recognized. I’m glad I didn’t have to recite this passage out loud. Nobody likes it when their names are mispronounced!

Why do you think God included this exhaustive list as part of his holy word? Think of it as our way to stay connected with the community of God’s people. We have a better visual of who people were who were called to lead the charge of Israel’s restoration period. Each of these individuals are heroes in my opinion.

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Ezra 1:5-11 – When God Stirs

Read Ezra 1:5-11

Those returning from exile to rebuild the temple will not be empty-handed. God continues to stir the people into action. Cyrus, the Persian king, was certainly doing his part to help facilitate the good will called for in his proclamation from our last reading. Isn’t it something that God knew Cyrus by name before he was even born when the prophet, Isaiah, spoke of this moment in history?  (See Isaiah 44:28)

God orchestrates this whole process. How does that make you feel? One minute the people are living their normal lives and the next some are packing up to move back to their homeland. When I think about seventy years, that’s a long time to get comfortable in the land of exile. Those being stirred by God in today’s reading have likely never even seen Jerusalem.

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Ezra 1:1-4 – Prophecy Fulfilled

Read Ezra 1:1-4

It had been seventy years, and now we see how God kept the promise he had given in Jeremiah’s prophecy. The time of captivity in Babylon was coming to an end. The new ruler, Cyrus, had been prompted by God to allow the exiles to return to their homeland. What a proclamation this is!

The Book of Ezra chronicles this return and how the people begin to rebuild their lives. We’ll read about the restoration of God’s people as they retell old stories and address new situations along the way. Would God’s promises still hold true? Had the people forgotten God during their time of exile?

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Zechariah 2:6-13 – God’s Heavenly Plan

Read Zechariah 2:6-13

These visions seem to tie God’s plan all together as the people are returning from exile. The prophet Jeremiah spoke of this day when his prophecy declared the people would return after seventy years in Babylon captivity. God’s promise all those years ago was finally being fulfilled.

God wants his people to know that he still cares for them. He said, “Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession.” How does it make you feel to be “God’s precious possession?”

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