Humility before men is often the best proof of
restoration before God.
Five books, though not all beside each other in
the arrangement of the Books of the Bible, all
tell of one time. They all point to the time just
before the Lord Jesus came to earth. Ezra,
Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. These
five books tell of the time of the return of a
small number who had a heart for the Lord, and
were willing to leave the prosperous life in
Babylon. The kingdom of Judah (2 tribes only) had
been carried away captive to Babylon just before
BC 500, for 70 years.
Chapters 1-6 These chapters are a history of what
had happened about 70 years before. (Ezra wasn't
born at that time).
Let's go back as to why Israel was taken captive.
It was because they had turned away from the Lord.
So the Lord had called on the head of the first
and greatest of the world empires... Babylon, to
take away Judah out of their land. They had now
been 70 years in Babylon.
Ezra 1:1-4 Cyrus was then the head of the 2nd
world empire, Persia (Iran, today). He offers to
let any of the captives of Israel to return to
Jerusalem. He would pay all their expenses. (What
a God of mercy, love and power we have!)
Ezra 1:5-11 King Cyrus did an amazing thing. He
told the captives to take back to Jerusalem all
the vessels of the house of the Lord which the
other king of Babylon had stolen 70 years before.
The secret of real progress is personal
attachment to Himself.
Ezra 2, Verses 1-57
Ezra 2:1-2 The actual names of some of those who
wanted to go back to God's centre... Jerusalem.
Although everything was in ruins there, they
still wanted to go. Most had not been there!
Ezra 2:2 Zerubbabel was the leader. Turn to
Matthew l:l-16 (the royal line from Abraham
through King David to Christ - verse 16 - Notice
verse 12). Does God control things? This very man
Zerubbabel is of that royal line - actually the
King of Israel. Just as Jesus was - (Matthew 2:1-2,
Ezra 2:2-58 Although we may find it hard to even
pronounce these names, the Lord holds these
people so dear to Him that He tells us who they
were! Notice that they went by households (take a
minute to read Exodus 1:1). How happy we are when
our children follow the Lord. We can count on
this, when we ourselves follow Him.
Whenever there is a real need in the wilderness,
it is a sin to doubt whether God will help us or
not. Tempting the Lord is doubting the supply of
His goodness in giving all that we need.
Ezra 2, Verses 58-70
Ezra 2:61-63 A sad and important lesson. Some
were "put from the priesthood" because
they could not prove what family they belonged to.
It made no difference while they were in
captivity, but now when they have returned to
occupy again the place where the Lord had set His
name, there was much care as to who should act as
a priest and who should not. When it is a
question of the worship of God, we see how
absolutely necessary it is that it be done
according to God's order and not according to
what men think. (This is why there are so many
Ezra 2:68 When they came to the house of the Lord
which is at Jerusalem they saw that it had been
destroyed. They had come there to rebuild it -
yet they act in wonderful faith, as if the house
were truly standing.
Ezra 2:70 We have read of seven groups. Those who
returned were seen as taking the place of the
nation of "all Israel", even though
they were less than 50,000 (read Romans 11:26).
Where there is the fear of the Lord, there will
be the understanding of His Word and mind. But
the Word of God will not be simple without
subjection to Him.
Ezra 3:1 The Lord Himself had chosen Jerusalem -
Deuteronomy 12:5. And in response to His call,
they were all gathered together there. Notice..."as
one man". They all had one purpose... to be
where the Lord wanted them to be. That always
Ezra 3:2-3 They were surrounded by enemies, and
feared them. The first thing they did was to set
up the altar and offer burnt offerings. They
immediately gave the Lord His rightful place, and
counted on Him to take care of them.
Ezra 3:4 Sacrificing and keeping the feasts of
Tabernacles, with joy! Praise to God in verse 3,
joy in their hearts - verse 4.
Ezra 3:8-13 Important lesson. When the foundation
of this new house of the Lord was laid, there was
great joy and gladness. But there were some very
old Jews who could remember the glory of Solomon's
temple; they wept when they saw this new
foundation, so poor and small, not like the
"old days". Turn to Haggai chapter 2,
and see that God heard their weeping and sent a
wonderful message. Read verses 3-5.
Communion with saints is precious but I must have
intimacy of communion with God above all, and
communion with saints will flow from communion
Ezra 4:2 These enemies approach the faithful Jews
Ezra 4:3 A good answer.
Ezra 4:4-6 But the enemy tries another method.
Ezra 4:7-16 A letter written to king Artaxerxes (where
the Jews had been for 70 years), making complaint
against these Jews.
Ezra 4:17-24 A reply now comes back from the king
and it is ordered that the work must be stopped.
How strange this seems, for it was truly a work
of the Lord, and yet the enemy succeeded in
stopping it. But if we turn to the book of Haggai,
we shall find that there was an inward reason for
this. Chapter 1, verses 2, 4 and 9 tell a sad
story. Once they had laid the foundation of the
house they began to neglect this work, and turned
to building their own homes instead. (If we are
unfaithful, the Lord may allow the enemy to
Communion with God always give confidence in His
God sends a message to these Jews through the two
prophets.(We will read their books shortly).
Ezra 5:2 Having heard the message from God, they
go at rebuilding the house of the Lord with great
Ezra 5:3,7 The enemy is still busy.
Ezra 5:5 They had heard the word of God (in verse
1) now the eye of God is on them! What more did
they need? Nor we!
Ezra 5:6-17 Another letter is sent to the king.
This time it is to king Darius, for he had
succeeded Artaxerxes. This letter gives a full
account of what was going on at Jerusalem. They
gave a true and faithful account of what they
were doing, and why they were doing it.
Ezra 5:11 What the Jews had said to the ones who
wanted the work to be stopped...
Ezra 5:12 It was not because of the might of the
enemy that Solomon's temple had been destroyed,
but because of their own sin.
Ezra 5:17 In Babylon a search is made to see if
the Jews really had authority from king Cyrus to
continue with the work of the house of the Lord.
The conversion of sinners -- the building up of
believers -- are very precious things. But these
are not the object of the soul. That should be to
Ezra 6:1-12 The wonderful reply of the king of
Medo-Persia. Not only were they free to continue
to work, but the Lord stirs the heart of Darius!
He replies to the enemies of the work of the Lord
in this way.
Ezra 6:7 "Let the work of the Lord alone!"
Ezra 6:8 Expenses (money) to be given to these
Ezra 6:9 These Jews now had more liberty and help
than they had before! (When we are careless in
our life and cold in our heart, Satan deceives us,
and we lose our power and discernment).
Ezra 6:15 And this house was finished...
Ezra 6:16 Compare the sacrifice at the dedication
of this house, with that at the dedication of
Solomon's temple in 1 Kings 8, verses 10-11, the
glory of the Lord filled Solomon's temple. But
there were no such signs here in the days of Ezra.
Ezra 6:21-22 Count seven things some of the
people did or happened to them.
Ezra 6:22 By God's help the house of the Lord was
rebuilt. The Passover and the feast of unleavened
bread were kept with JOY, for "the Lord had
made them joyful". These chapters complete
the story of the first return of the Jewish
captives to Jerusalem from Babylon.
There are only two characters of testimony -- the
lip and the life. And the lip should be but the
expression of what has first been produced in the
Ezra 7, Verses 1-10
About eighty years have gone by between chapters
6 and 7. Here to the end of the book, Ezra
appears for the first time and personally tells
of leading the second group out of Babylon.
Ezra 7:1-5 Ezra was a descendant of Aaron, and
therefore was a priest by birth.
Ezra 7:6 Ezra also carefully read the law of
Moses. This is the only way he could be of help
Ezra 7:10 Notice three things in this verse. Good
for us too.
There is no growth without challenge, and there
can be no challenge without change.
Ezra 7, Verses 11-28
Ezra 7:11-26 This letter the king gave to Ezra
when he went from Babylon to Jerusalem. Notice in
verse 13... "which are minded of their own
freewill to go up to Jerusalem..." Each
person was free to go or stay. To stay probably
meant prosperity, to go meant hardship, but was
pleasing to the Lord.
Ezra 7:25 Notice what the king said that Ezra had
in his hand.
Ezra 7:27-28 He took no credit to himself, nor to
his influence with the king, but rather thanked
and praised the Lord for this wonderful open door.
Notice how many times the Lord's hand is upon
The trials you are going through are educating
you to help someone else. 2 Corinthians 1:4
Ezra 8:1-14 These men did not know that their
names would be found in God's Holy Word, just
because they were willing to go to Jerusalem! God
saw their devotedness, and today He still notices
the love of those who wish to be where His Word
would direct them. What a significant journey,
from Babylon to Jerusalem. Babylon is a picture
to us of idolatrous corruption and worldliness,
and Jerusalem is a picture of the privilege of
being where He has set His name.
Ezra 8:15-22 None of the sons of Levi were found
among these willing men. Apparently they had felt
quite at home in Babylon and decided to stay
Ezra 8:18-20 There were some who were at last
stirred up to come, and "all of them were
expressed by name".
Ezra 8:21 A long and dangerous journey, was ahead,
so Ezra proclaims a fast. He wanted a right way
from the Lord, "for ourselves, and for our
little ones, and for our substance". He was
serious about it! If we parents wish our children
to walk in a right way, we must walk in it
Ezra 8:24-34 These men have a big responsibility.
At the beginning of the journey they have certain
treasures put into their hands. They are told
"watch ye, and keep them..." Verse 29.
Many wonderful treasures of truth have been given
to us in the Word of God. What a treasure it is
to know that we are living stones in the church
of God - that we are members of the body of
Christ - that we are part of the bride of Christ
- that our Lord is coming soon to take us Home.
Hear Him say "watch ye and keep them, until!"
Ezra 8:34 When they reached the end of the
journey, they had the written account of what had
been given to them when they started out. The
truth of God has been given to us to treasure and
obey. We are going to have to give an account to
God how well we have obeyed it.
Every disobedient act of a Christian demonstrates
a lack of appreciation of what God is, and what
Christ has done.
Ezra 9:1 Ezra is astonished and very upset to
find that many, even the priests and princes, had
married foreign wives.
Ezra 9:2 A warning. The "holy seed"
refers to Israelites. They were mixing with, and
marrying Gentiles. It was forbidden by God. And
for those of us who really belong to the Lord
Jesus today, it is a serious and wrong thing to
yoke together or to make friends with those who
do not know the Lord Jesus as Saviour. (2 Cor. 6:14,
Ezra 9:3 Ezra's great grief when he received news
of the disobedience of God's people.
Ezra 9:4 Ezra's own grief and humiliation,
touched the heart of those who trembled at the
words of the God of Israel. We too need to
tremble at God's Word. Really there were two
groups there, the guilty ones and the non-guilty
ones. Notice which group trembled at the Word of
God. Will their trembling do any good? Wait to
Ezra 9:6-8 First - Ezra takes his place among the
guilty ones, for he says "I am ashamed...
our iniquities... our trespass". Next, he
justified God for all that had happened to them
in the past "for our iniquities have we been
delivered into the hands of the kings..."
and then he speaks of the grace that the Lord had
shown to them. (Let us today confess how we have
failed, and let us never blame God for our
difficulties. He is gracious and He is faithful).
Our Lord doesn't require performance, only a
yielded life. (Romans 6:13).
Ezra 10:1 What a remarkable result from the
confession and weeping of one man. The news
spreads, and soon there is a very great
congregation gathered weeping before the house of
God (Eccles 7:2).
Ezra 10:2-5 One man suggests a very strong and
difficult remedy. A full confession of their
guilt, and a willingness to separate from that
which was so displeasing to the Lord.
Ezra 10:3 The wives, and the children were to be
put away. This was according to the law, for they
were unclean. In 1 Cor.7, verse 14, notice the
contrast between the law and the grace of God. In
1 Cor.7 neither the wife nor the children need to
be put away if the husband becomes a believer. It
is still wrong and disobedient to marry an
unbeliever. A believer can pray to the Lord that
the partner and the children may be saved.
Ezra 10:9-10 Ezra first explains their sin, then
urges them to confess it and then holds them
responsible to separate themselves. Confession is
one things, but there must be a turning away from
the sin itself. There would have been no "strange
wives" if there had been proper separation
from the people of the land.
Ezra 10:18 The actual list of those who were
guilty, and it begins with the priests! They were
that much more responsible because of their
position and their influence.
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