Wed, Apr 04, 2018

Ezra 1-2

Called The Second Exodus by many the book of Ezra can best be summed up in a single word, Restoration… Restoration, the wonderful work of God, a picture of His love and grace and mercy for the nation of Israel. Once again we see God as the God of the second chance. Ezra is the first of the post exile books. Written after the 70 years of captivity in Babylon.
Duration:53 mins 39 secs

Ezra 1


Called The Second Exodus by many the book of Ezra can best be summed up in a single word, Restoration… Restoration, the wonderful work of God, a picture of His love and grace and mercy for the nation of Israel. Once again we see God as the God of the second chance. 


Ezra is the first of the post exile books. Written after the 70 years of captivity in Babylon.  


In chapters 1-6 Ezra records the return of Zerubbabel and Joshua the priest along with about 50,000 people of Judah with them. It covers a period of about 23 years. 538-515 B.C. 


At the end of chapter 6 and before chapter 7 there is a 60 year break and during this time the book of Esther was written. 


Chapters 7-10 takes place in 458 b.c. where a second group returns to Jerusalem, about 2000 in all.  


Ezra’s account reveals two main issues faced by the returning exiles: 

(1) the struggle to restore the temple (Ezra 1:1–6:22) and 

(2) the need for spiritual reformation (7:1–10:44). 

Both were necessary in order for the people to renew their fellowship with the Lord.


Nehemiah is still almost a 100 years after this. 


What we see here is God’s people returning, God restoring a nation and a people back to the land He promised them. Exciting times for sure!


A broader theological purpose is revealed: God keeps His promises. Through the prophets, God had ordained that His chosen people would return to their land after a seventy-year exile. Ezra’s account proclaims that God kept His word, and it shows that when God’s people remained faithful to Him, He would continue to bless them. The book of Ezra emphasizes the temple and proper worship, similar to Chronicles (which was also written during these days). 


Because God keeps His Word, God casts His people out but He doesn’t cast off. God is a God of covenant. With God there is an open door of restoration. 


Ezra’s means, “help” 


In the book of Daniel, in chapters 9-10 we see the angels Gabriel and Michael involved in God’s sovereign plan. We find out pretty quickly God is in charge. God raises up a nation over another nation. 


He uses whom He pleases for whatever He pleases. 


What's the big idea?


God moved the hearts of secular rulers (Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes) to allow, even encourage and help, the Jewish people to return home. He used these unlikely allies to fulfill His promises of restoration for His chosen people. 


Have you experienced unlikely sources of blessing? Have you wondered how God can really work all things together for the good of those who are called by His name (Romans 8:28)? 


We do well today to stop and acknowledge God’s sovereignty and mercy in our lives. If you feel far off tonight and want to come home to the Lord you can. Recommit to Him your trust, your love, and your obedience. Follow Jesus!


A man might plan his steps but the Lord brings them to pass. 


God is still sovereignly controlling the nations. We don’t need to panic or be afraid. God is busy! 


What is your hope? 



Ezra 1:1-11 (NKJV)
1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying,
2 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah.


Cyrus is not a follower of God. He was a polytheist, he worshipped any and all gods. Since he didn’t know any of his gods he just worshipped them all. Cyrus has been in power for about 20 years


He recognized somehow though that the God of heaven was involved in his success and in the establishment of the Medo-Persin empire to fulfill His purposes. 


Proverbs 21:1, “The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” 


God was behind the decree not Cyrus. God stirred Cyrus heart. Jeremiah 25:12-13  

12  'Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,' says the LORD; 'and I will make it a perpetual desolation. 

13  So I will bring on that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah has prophesied concerning all the nations. 


when 70 years are fulfilled…


Jeremiah 29:10“For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.” 


Remember that history is really His-Story. History is God’s story. God moves as needed to rule and over rule human history so that what ever He has declared will come to pass.


Remember, Daniel was reading the book of Jeremiah and concluded that the end of the Babylonian captivity was ending so he fasted and sought the Lord and prayed and then the angel Gabriel came to him and laid everything out with regard to the end times.   


This is awesome! If God says it, that settles it and we do well to believe it. 


Isaiah 41:4, “Who has performed and done it, Calling the generations from the beginning? ' I, the LORD, am the first; And with the last I am He.' " 


The prophecy of Isaiah 44, written 200 years earlier and 150 years before Cyrus was even born. God prophesied through Isaiah the prophet that a man named Cyrus would restore the Jews to their land and rebuild their temple.


Isaiah 44:24-28  

24  Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: "I am the LORD, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself; 

25  Who frustrates the signs of the babblers, And drives diviners mad; Who turns wise men backward, And makes their knowledge foolishness; 

26  Who confirms the word of His servant, And performs the counsel of His messengers; Who says to Jerusalem, 'You shall be inhabited,' To the cities of Judah, 'You shall be built,' And I will raise up her waste places; 

27  Who says to the deep, 'Be dry! And I will dry up your rivers'; 

28  Who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd, And he shall perform all My pleasure, Saying to Jerusalem, "You shall be built," And to the temple, "Your foundation shall be laid." ' 


Cyrus, God’s shepherd, is being used to perform Gods will. 



Isaiah 45:1-3  

1  "Thus says the LORD to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held-- To subdue nations before him And loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut: 

2  'I will go before you And make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze And cut the bars of iron. 

3  I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the LORD, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel. 



This decree is a miracle of God. God provides in amazing ways. Think about it. God reveals to Cyrus that it was God who named him Cyrus before he was born. The news stirred Cyrus’s heart. 


God rules the nations… He says it before it is, and it is done! Everything is subject to the sovereignty of God. 


3 Who is among you of all His people? May 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 God), which is in Jerusalem.
4 And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.
5 Then the heads of the fathers' houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. 


God put it on some peoples hearts to go and others to stay. Not everyone can go, there are goers and there are senders. If everyone left who would take care of what is left behind? 


50,000 are going to go. Many more will stay behind. Only a remnant will return to Jerusalem. God will put it in their heart to go. A great reminder to us all, Follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life. 


This is a spiritual pilgrimage. It’s a 900 mile journey, a 4-5 month trip to a ruined city.  Not for the faint of heart. 


There is a deep spiritual principle here for us. It reminds me of what Jesus said to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:1, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place--unless you repent.” 



And a warning to us as well, Don’t play Holy Spirit in other people’s lives. Don’t get in the way of the Holy Spirit’s leading. 


It’s the Holy Spirits job to “separate” who He wills for the sake of ministry. Our job is to do everything we can to equip them to go, not to make them stay. 


The worst thing we can do is talk people into ministry. We need God to raise up people He has called. We need to encourage people to hear from the Lord. Best way to do that is to study His Word. 


We have a need… pray and obey… don’t force, don’t manipulate, don’t guilt people into serving. Why? Because God doesn’t. As we will see, God remembers our faithfulness to Him and He rewards it. 


Its a privilege to get to serve Jesus! 


6 And all those who were around them encouraged them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with precious things, besides all that was willingly offered. 


People gave to their success. Give as the Lord leads you to give. 

7 King Cyrus also brought out the articles of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem and put in the temple of his gods; 


Even King Cyrus gave them articles of the house of the Lord that King Nebby had taken. 

8 and Cyrus king of Persia brought them out by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. 


Probably a Persian name given to Zerubbabel.  

9 This is the number of them: thirty gold platters, one thousand silver platters, twenty-nine knives,
10 thirty gold basins, four hundred and ten silver basins of a similar kind, and one thousand other articles.
11 All the articles of gold and silver were five thousand four hundred. All these Sheshbazzar took with the captives who were brought from Babylon to Jerusalem. 


This is a great reminder. God keeps great records. God knows the exact number… 


There were 2499 items listed here and the total was 5400. The smaller items were not listed. 



Ezra 2:1-70 


1  Now these are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away to Babylon, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his own city. 

2  Those who came with Zerubbabel were…


I’m not even going to attempt to read the names listed here, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read them on your own. The important thing to glean from chapter 2 is that God makes note of those with whom responded to the Spirits prompting to return to Jerusalem and be part of the restoration process. 


This listing here is a shadow of the greater list, the names of those who throughout human history have responded to the spirits prompting and whose names are written in the Lambs Book of Life, those who have put their hope in Jesus Christ. 


To think how far these men came to be part of the restoration process. 900 miles… They were living comfortable and profitable lives in their captivity. They gave that all up to follow the leading of God. And God doesn’t forget the sacrifices we make for Him. 


Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel: 

3  the people of Parosh, two thousand one hundred and seventy-two; 

4  the people of Shephatiah, three hundred and seventy-two; 

5  the people of Arah, seven hundred and seventy-five; 

6  the people of Pahath-Moab, of the people of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and twelve; 

7  the people of Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four; 

8  the people of Zattu, nine hundred and forty-five; 

9  the people of Zaccai, seven hundred and sixty; 

10  the people of Bani, six hundred and forty-two; 

11  the people of Bebai, six hundred and twenty-three; 

12  the people of Azgad, one thousand two hundred and twenty-two; 

13  the people of Adonikam, six hundred and sixty-six; 

14  the people of Bigvai, two thousand and fifty-six; 

15  the people of Adin, four hundred and fifty-four; 

16  the people of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety-eight; 

17  the people of Bezai, three hundred and twenty-three; 

18  the people of Jorah, one hundred and twelve; 

19  the people of Hashum, two hundred and twenty-three; 

20  the people of Gibbar, ninety-five; 


Listed by cities… in verses 21-35, 


21  the people of Bethlehem, one hundred and twenty-three; 



22  the men of Netophah, fifty-six; 

23  the men of Anathoth, one hundred and twenty-eight; 

24  the people of Azmaveth, forty-two; 

25  the people of Kirjath Arim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty-three; 

26  the people of Ramah and Geba, six hundred and twenty-one; 

27  the men of Michmas, one hundred and twenty-two; 

28  the men of Bethel and Ai, two hundred and twenty-three; 

29  the people of Nebo, fifty-two; 

30  the people of Magbish, one hundred and fifty-six; 

31  the people of the other Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four; 

32  the people of Harim, three hundred and twenty; 

33  the people of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred and twenty-five; 

34  the people of Jericho, three hundred and forty-five; 

35  the people of Senaah, three thousand six hundred and thirty. 


Verses 36-39 we have the listing of the priests…


36  The priests: the sons of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred and seventy-three;

37  the sons of Immer, one thousand and fifty-two; 

38  the sons of Pashhur, one thousand two hundred and forty-seven; 

39  the sons of Harim, one thousand and seventeen. 


All work is spiritual work… about 10% of the people who returned were priests. 



40  The Levites: the sons of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the sons of Hodaviah, seventy-four. 

41  The singers: the sons of Asaph, one hundred and twenty-eight. 

42  The sons of the gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, and the sons of Shobai, one hundred and thirty-nine in all. 

43  The Nethinim: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth,


Nethinim means “dedicated ones”, a group that King David raised up to assist the Levites. “Keygrips”, helpers to the worship leaders and priests though they were not Levites. 


44  the sons of Keros, the sons of Siaha, the sons of Padon, 

45  the sons of Lebanah, the sons of Hagabah, the sons of Akkub, 

46  the sons of Hagab, the sons of Shalmai, the sons of Hanan, 

47  the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, the sons of Reaiah, 

48  the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, the sons of Gazzam, 

49  the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, the sons of Besai, 

50  the sons of Asnah, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephusim, 

51  the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, 

52  the sons of Bazluth, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, 

53  the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Tamah, 

54  the sons of Neziah, and the sons of Hatipha. 

55  The sons of Solomon's servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Sophereth, the sons of Peruda, 

56  the sons of Jaala, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, 

57  the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth of Zebaim, and the sons of Ami. 

58  All the Nethinim and the children of Solomon's servants were three hundred and ninety-two. 

59  And these were the ones who came up from Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer; but they could not identify their father's house or their genealogy, whether they were of Israel: 

60  the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, and the sons of Nekoda, six hundred and fifty-two; 

61  and of the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Koz, and the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name. 

62  These sought their listing among those who were registered by genealogy, but they were not found; therefore they were excluded from the priesthood as defiled. 

63  And the governor said to them that they should not eat of the most holy things till a priest could consult with the Urim and Thummim. 


They didn’t have the proper paperwork to serve as priests so they waited until they could consult God to their role. 


64  The whole assembly together was forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty, 

65  besides their male and female servants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven; and they had two hundred men and women singers. 

66  Their horses were seven hundred and thirty-six, their mules two hundred and forty-five, 

67  their camels four hundred and thirty-five, and their donkeys six thousand seven hundred and twenty. 

68  Some of the heads of the fathers' houses, when they came to the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God, to erect it in its place: 

69  According to their ability, they gave to the treasury for the work sixty-one thousand gold drachmas, five thousand minas of silver, and one hundred priestly garments. 


People gave as they were able to give. Its never about the amount, its always measured by ability to give. 


70  So the priests and the Levites, some of the people, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the Nethinim, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities. 


Lets don’t take it for granted, we serve a God of the second chance, actually its as many chances as we need to understand His grace, His mercy and His love. 


God has a plan and a purpose for our lives that is greater than our sin and failure. 


If God is in your life, you have a future and a hope! 



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