Originally, Ezra and Nehemiah were one book.
It even appears that the author of Ezra/Nehemiah was also the author of Chronicles. The opening verses of one are virtually identical with the closing verses of the other. The prevalence of lists, the prominence of the Levites and temple personnel, and the use of words such as “singer,” “gatekeeper”, and “temple servants” which are only found in these two (or four) books supports the idea that they came from the same source.
Ezra begins with the edict of Cyrus, king of Persia,
who announces that the people of Israel may return to their homes in Judah. It is well attested by history that Cyrus did indeed issue such an edict in about 539 B.C.
Before the people return, an inventory is taken
of the articles taken from the temple of Jerusalem when it was captured and destroyed. Cyrus returns these objects to the exiles about to go back to their homes. A list is also made of the people who are returning to Judah.
The first task is the rebuilding of the Altar of the temple.
The temple itself is the next building project on the agenda, and in a short time, construction begins.
God never forgets His people – even in their punishment,
and it's hard not to conclude that a miracle is involved in the return of the Jews to their homeland.
Do you ever wonder if God has forgotten you?
As you go through the uncertainties and challenges of life, do you ever feel that there is no hope for change or opportunity for realistic benefit? The Jews did. They had lost everything and were resigned to the fact that they would never see the blessings of home again. Yet they did! That fact should inspire us!
The God who created an entire universe out of nothing can surely create for us something good
-- even when evil is all that can be seen. He can, and indeed He does if we are willing to listen to His voice, wait for His directions and act when we find them.
It didn't take the Jews long to decide to accept the opportunity of return to Judah.
How long does it take us to decide to accept God’s offer to help us build our own lives in the right ways?
Today, take Him up on that offer and see what you can build together.
The Jews did get back home; God had the power to get them their. Do you believe He has the power to get you to the right place in life? If so ask Him to show you His way and then follow it!
© A. Eugene Pearson 1999