One thing I love about reading the Word is that I can always find something new in it. Whether it’s because I’m looking at something with a changed perspective, or I’m reading a book I just never ended up reading before. I’ve read several of the prophets, and a few times intended to read the Bible in a year, but somehow in all of that Ezra escaped my attention. Until this week that is.
What an incredible story! I encourage you to check it out for yourself, but here are a few of the things I ended up highlighting and pondering.
“The Lord stirred the heart of King Cyrus of Persia.” “Then God stirred the hearts of the priests and Levites and the leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin…” (Ezra 1:1, 5) The Holy Spirit had not yet come to dwell on Earth, yet God was at work in the people’s hearts, causing them to desire His will.
This powerful, Gentile king allowed his slaves to go back to their homeland and rebuild the central aspect of their culture-the dwelling place of their God. He even restored stolen Temple articles from the royal treasury to them. (Ezra 1:7)
When it came time to rebuild, “all the people assembled in Jerusalem with a unified purpose.” (Ezra 3:1) Powerful things happen when the people of God are united in His Kingdom.
Enemies of God’s people opposed the building over and over, but God used pagan kings and their resources to restore His place of worship and protect His people!
The people knew transporting riches to the Temple would be dangerous, yet were ashamed to ask for protection from the king. They fasted and prayed for the Lord’s protection. They traveled safely to Jerusalem, unhindered by robbers and thieves. (Ezra 8:23-36)
Marrying people with different belief systems makes it VERY difficult to truly follow God. (Ezra 9:1-2). So much proof that God’s instruction to not become unequally yoked is commanded in love.
Ezra 9:6-15. So much truth in this prayer! God is both full of unfailing love and justice. Those do not work against each other. When I live within God’s plan, things can be as He intended. I am guilty, I am in such a condition that I can’t stand in His presence….But that was my life before Jesus restored me!!! I can be in intimate relationship with the one who washed my guilt away!
Ch 10-the people painfully repented of their sin, turning face on towards God, living as His holy nation.
What book should I read next??