Returning To the House of God

The People Return

Book of Ezra Chapters 7-10

We have already seen Ezra but could trace his hereditary all the way back to Aaron the brother of Moses.

He sought the king’s consent to return to Israel.

He was a scribe, a doctor of the Law of God.

Ezra had made sure that copies of the Word of God would be true copies and preserved for all generations.

Ezra had assembled the Old Testament canon up through his day.

But we can be sure it was God who had chosen Ezra for this great mission.

It was time for all those who were willing to go home to Israel and Jerusalem, to leave for the promised land.

Notice God only accepts those who freely choose to be in His family. God will never force anyone to accept Him!

It just makes good sense to be in the family of Jehovah God, Jesus will guide you into His family.

Notice also, it was not the King of Persia who would get the credit for releasing the Jews to go home, it was God who made tender the heart of this King, so these things could take place!

God has a way of getting His will done, regardless of the times and regardless of who sits in power!

God always works through some man to get His will done and this time it was Ezra.

Just as God had chosen Moses and just as God had chosen Joshua, God now chose Ezra.

*****Ezr 7:6 This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.

The first expedition of Jews to Jerusalem and home was led by Zerubbabel and was now complete, with a dedication to rebuild the Temple.

Ezra would lead the second expedition back home and he desired that Jerusalem could be rebuilt.

Later Nehemiah would lead a third group home with the intent to rebuild the broken-down walls of Jerusalem.

We can be sure each group would meet opposition, much like the opposition that confronts the tiny nation of Israel today.

No one but God Himself wants to see this tiny nation prosper, and they would be well ahead if they would only learn to trust God and be obedient to Him!

Ezra had to get permission to see the King of Persia and make his request.

Aren’t you glad that another gift Jesus Christ gave us, was the gift of answered prayer?

Those who love the Lord can reach into the throne room of our Father in Heaven without asking for His permission. He is ready to hear from His children at all times!

Ezra was a scribe and besides teaching the Word of God, it was Ezra’s job to reproduce accurate copies of the Scriptures.

God did not allow for error from His Scribes!

Many believe Ezra wrote not only the Book of Ezra, but he probably also wrote the two Books of Chronicles and the two Books of Kings.

What did Ezra believe about the Scriptures?

Ezra believed that the Scriptures were not just some human code written by some men.
Ezra did not believe that the Scriptures were just a national treasure of Israel.
Ezra believed the Scriptures were a Divine Gift of God, the Law of the Lord!

Without many questions, King Artaxerxes granted every favor that Ezra asked of him, so we can be sure that God had made the heart of this king to be tender toward the Jews.

How did God give His Words to be written?

Many ways for sure, but one way was giving His words to those who would write it down.

Psa 45:1 My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: “my tongue is the pen of a ready writer”.

*****Ezr 7:7 And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.

This Artaxerxes may have been the husband of Esther, but I cannot say that is true.

Since the Temple was nearly complete then not only the children of Israel, but some of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the porters and the Nethinims were also a part of these that returned to Jerusalem.

We are familiar with all but the Nethinims.

It is probable that these were at one time captured enemies of Israel, who were allowed to stay in Israel if they worked at the Temple and they volunteered for this duty from then on.

These are probably the same ones who had the foreign names (Ezra 2:43-58).

In reality these people had to obey the laws of Israel and were likely the ones who were water carriers for the Temple and workers of menial task at the Temple.

Today we can associate these people with those of the Church who work behind the scenes of the Church, who without them the Church would not function as it should.

We should understand that the trip from Babylon to Jerusalem was near 900 miles and by God’s favor this trip took only 4 months.

This roadway was infested with thieves and robbers and this road passed through many of the enemies of the Jews!

This group traveling with Ezra numbered at least 50,000 men, women, and children.

The year of this group was 458 BC.

*****Ezr 7:8 And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king.
Ezr 7:9 For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him.

We can be sure that Ezra was totally committed to the Lord God of Israel! Ezra was also a precious servant to his people!

If we remember Moses had stood before a King (Pharaoh) and said let my people go and that king had only hardened his heart and he refused and it cost him his life and his oldest son.

Ezra had been bold enough to stand before this Persian king and he just said how can I help you to do this thing!

Ezr 8:31 Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way.
Ezr 8:32 And we came to Jerusalem, and abode there three days.
Ezr 8:33 Now on the fourth day was the silver and the gold and the vessels weighed in the house of our God by the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest; and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas; and with them was Jozabad the son of Jeshua, and Noadiah the son of Binnui, Levites;
Ezr 8:34 By number and by weight of every one: and all the weight was written at that time.

This group of Jews had traveled this long journey with hardly an incident to be reported, which means the hand of protection of the Lord was with them.

*****Ezr 7:10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

Ezra had a great testimony. Ezra had prepared his heart to not only learn the Word of God, but to learn the will of God.

If we do not observe the will of God as written in the Scriptures, we will never know the special will of God for our lives.
,
What is the will of God for every Christian?

1) 2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2) Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

3) Rom_12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

4) These things are necessary so that the ultimate will of God will be done in all our lives!

Gal 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

It is the will of God that we be delivered from this present evil world!

None of these things can take place, until we have prepared our heart to seek the law of God!

This thing will never change!

If God said we live in an evil world, then how can we deny what God says?

None of us can be of service to God, until we have prepared our hearts to do so!

Ezra was a captive in a foreign nation, and he needed the permission of that government, not so much for him but to show to anyone who questioned the rebuilding of Jerusalem and Temple, the House of God.

*****Ezr 7:11 Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel.
Ezr 7:12 Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time.
Ezr 7:13 I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.

The Holy Spirit decided that this letter was to be preserved so that all the world would know the decree of Artaxerxes, which was similar to those letters from King Cyrus and King Darius, his predecessors.

The first thing we notice is, that every Israelite from every tribe was given the permission to go back to Israel.

We should also notice that Ezra was made to be a representative of the King.

We should even notice that Ezra had certain qualifications. Priest, Scribe, and Scribe of the written Word of God, which would be the cannon of the Bible in that day.

Ezra had the right to encourage all Israelites to go home, but he could not try to force them to leave.

Remember they also had the words of Daniel and of Ezekiel.

Artaxerxes was known as King of kings, because he had so many kings, he had conquered, but he expected them to run the government of those nations according to the laws of Persia and not their own laws.

The difference with Israel was that he gave these Jews the permission to rule according to the Word of God and His laws.

By saying that Jehovah was the God of heaven, He was then God of gods. This king was not a true believer!

This king just chose to believe that Jehovah was the greatest of all gods, but there are no gods, but Jehovah.

It is here that we see that this king was well aware of the ten tribes of Israel that had already been captured by other kings in lands that he now ruled.

It seems that some of those people did go back with Ezra and Israel was to be reunited with all 12 tribes.

We will see this fact when Ezra gets back to Jerusalem and “twelve bullocks for all of Israel” were sacrificed.

Ezr_8:35 Also the children of those that had been carried away, which were come out of the captivity, offered burnt offerings unto the God of Israel, twelve bullocks for all Israel, ninety and six rams, seventy and seven lambs, twelve he goats for a sin offering: all this was a burnt offering unto the LORD.

Ezra was sent of the King to rebuild Jerusalem and to complete the Temple which had already been started by Zerubbabel.

*****Ezr 7:14 Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to enquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand;

Ezra was sent of the king to make sure that all Israelies lived according to the laws of God.

It seems that Ezra had a copy of the Scriptures in his hand this very day.

These Jews did not need this king’s permission nor his commands, because they had already been charge of God to obey all His Word, just as we have here today.

Now do not get me wrong, the commandments and laws given to the Jews and all Israelites, were never given to the Church but we live understanding the same principle of obeying the Word of God.

The Scriptures must always be rightly divided!

2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Even though this is true, we must understand that we are to learn from all the Word of God!

2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

God does not ever change, so the Ten Commandments applies to all people, except the Church is to gather on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) and not the Sabbath (Saturday). The Lord Jesus Christ arose on a Sunday, therefore it is the Lord’s Day!

The other 603 laws of God to the Jews do not apply to the Church but many, if not all those laws are to be considered, for reproof, which means, (God points out our errors and we are to correct our ways), for correction which means to the Church to be (Christ like, or Christian), for instruction in righteousness, which means (God has given us the means of living according to “Divine Law”).

We next see that it was Ezra who would be held responsible for the free will offering from the king himself.

*****Ezr 7:15 And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem,
Ezr 7:16 And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem:

Now this was not money to rebuild the Temple, King Cyrus had already donated the funds to rebuild the Temple and to pay for the material and the laborers.

Ezr_3:7 They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.

This king offered Ezra a military escort, but Ezra had bragged on God so much, that he could not show that God did not have the power to protect not only this silver and gold but also the people who were going home.

To be honest, we should be ashamed for not bragging on God enough!

Ezra was also authorized to ask for free will offerings from all those in Babylon who did not want to leave Babylon at this time.

It can be said that Ezra had found “Grace” in the eyes of the Lord!

So what was this money to be used for?

*****Ezr 7:17 That thou mayest buy speedily with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meat offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem.
Ezr 7:18 And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren, to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God.

Most of these Laws can be found in Numbers Chapter 15.

Num 15:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num 15:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land of your habitations, which I give unto you,
Num 15:3 And will make an offering by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto the LORD, of the herd, or of the flock:

They were returning to the Promised Land once again.

We should also note that any of this money that was left over, Ezra was to use at his own discretion.

History tells us Ezra used all that remained on the Temple. He kept none for himself, a true steward of God’s money.

Once things have been given to the Lord, such as money, then it should be used to promote the Gospel and never for personal use!

*****Ezr 7:19 The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem.
Ezr 7:20 And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the
king’s treasure house.

We know that all the things of the Temple that Nebuchadnezzar had robbed from Solomon’s Temple had been returned to Zerubbabel so these things from the state treasury were not those things.

There is a list of these things:

Ezr 8:25 And weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering of the house of our God, which the king, and his counsellors, and his lords, and all Israel there present, had offered:
Ezr 8:26 I even weighed unto their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels an hundred talents, and of gold an hundred talents;
Ezr 8:27 Also twenty basons of gold, of a thousand drams; and two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold.
Ezr 8:28 And I said unto them, Ye are holy unto the LORD; the vessels are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering unto the LORD God of your fathers.

Just so we understand, one commentary estimated that one talent of silver would be valued at about 250,000 dollars in today’s market. A talent of gold would be more than 1 million dollars.

These were the free will offerings offered from the King to the God of Jerusalem.

We all know that you cannot buy God’s love so we can only say this Persian King was well aware of the need for the Jewish people to return to be able to worship the God of Heaven in His own House.

In reality this pagan King had no idea that he was doing all these things because it was the will of God that caused these things to happen.

In the day of the third Temple, it will cost this world dearly as God will cause the world to finance the new Temple.

Ezra was an emissary of the King, so he could go to the Kings treasury and get whatever else was needed to build the Temple and restore the worship of these Jews to Jehovah. We can be sure that Ezra took no more than was needed.

The truth is, it will cost this dearly to be on the wrong side of God!

*****Ezr 7:21 And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily,
Ezr 7:22 Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.
Ezr 7:23 Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?
Ezr 7:24 Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them.

This King sent a decree to all his treasurers that whatever Ezra needed to complete this work would be freely given to him.

Every ruler can be used of God to do His will!

Pro 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

It should be obvious that this king did not love Jehovah as he should, but he did have absolute fear the power of God, something most people of today ignore, or just do not believe.

Many of the church think of God only as an old grandfather, looking after His grandchildren but we serve an almighty God who we should have at least some of this same fear.

Php_2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

As we see the Prophets of God were shown some respect in almost every nation, and I believe many nations know all the prophecies of God today.

Some will just make note of them, others will try change those prophecies to their own advantage, but God will have His plan move along as only He can!

Notice that at this time there would be no taxes upon Jerusalem nor any part of Israel.

We can just imagine how these things stirred up the enemies of Israel.

The main thing we notice is, that Ezra was given the right to teach all these Jews the Law of God and not the false gods of this pagan king.

This was something was not normally allowed to conquered nations!

Another thing that Ezra was allowed to do, he was allowed to execute judgment according to the Word of God, with the power of this king behind this order.

Justice would be carried out by Ezra or the Persian government at the request of Ezra.

All the laws of God would be observed, and any local laws would be observed, all according to the Word of God.

*****Ezr 7:25 And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not.
Ezr 7:26 And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.

Notice it was not Zerubbabel the Governor of the land of Judah, but it Ezra who would appointed the Judges and Magistrates.

The Jews would not have to face the magistrates of pagan laws, but only the Laws of God and we know that the Jews not only had the “Ten Commandments” but also a total of 613 commandments given to the Jews in everything they did, in every portion of their lives.

Psa 119:98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
Psa 119:99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
Psa 119:100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.
Psa 119:101 I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.
Psa 119:102 I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.
Psa 119:103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psa 119:104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.

We should remember all those who came home were those who came of their own free will, they were ready to serve the Lord.

Ezra was blessed.

*****Ezr 7:27 Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem:
Ezr 7:28 And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.

Ezra did not bless this pagan king, but he praised the Lord for putting such thoughts in the head of this king.

You see this is an example of the way we should feel!

Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

God does not ever put bad thoughts in the heads of rulers, but God can put good thoughts into the mind of any evil man!

Rev 17:17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.

So how do all these things relate to the Church?

We must understand, that being a Christian is also being a Temple of God, which is to grow in the “Grace” and “Mercy” of God!

It is our job to lead people to the “Promised Land”. (Heaven) (Only God can forgive their sins)

It is our job to come out from the world and live according to the Word of God, and to introduce all we can to the Messiah, who is the only way to get to Heaven.

That Messiah is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

We must acknowledge that we are the ones sent by the Lord and God does still call certain men and women for special work!

Act 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

From the time the second Temple was built, Israel did all they could to remain free from foreign domination and they did until the time of the Romans, just as the Prophet Daniel had said.

Today, those who love the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior are the Temple of God, and God expects to live a holy life in obedience to the Word of God, “rightly divided”, and know it is Jehovah God who sits of the throne and directs this world as He see fit!

The most important thing God does is make sure everyone gets an opportunity to know the truth and the “Gospel” that saves is that “Truth”!

Amen

Let’s Pray!

The Second Temple

The Work Begins

Book of Ezra

Six months have passed since we began our study of the Book of John and now, we will spend some time in the Old Testament.

In 539 BC the Persians and the Medes under King Cyrus had defeated the Babylonians in a fierce battle for world domination just as the Prophet Daniel had predicted.

It was Isaiah that had predicted that Cyrus would do these things about 100 years before Cyrus had been born.

Isa 44:28 That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.

Isa 45:1 Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;
Isa 45:2 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
Isa 45:3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.

It was Jeremiah who had said that Jews would only be in captivity for 70 years.

Dan_9:2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolation of Jerusalem.

Jer 25:11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
Jer 25:12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.

The Book of Ezra was written by Ezra and Ezra was a Jewish Priest.

There were three groups who returned from Babylon, but not one group included any from the Northern Kingdom. The Northern Kingdom had been carried off by the Assyrians and never returned to the Promise Land during this period.

Cyrus had captured all the lands of the Babylonians which included the land of the Assyrians and any of those Jews who had remained could have the same freedom to return to Israel.

Let’s begin:

*****Ezr 1:1 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, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
Ezr 1:2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

Cyrus was the son of Cambyses, king of Persia and Mandane the daughter of Astyages, king of Media.

King Cyrus claimed himself to be the liberator of all peoples.

He allowed any group that were captured by the Babylonians to return to their homeland not just the Jews, after all he now ruled all those homelands.

He had first allowed Zerubbabel to lead the first group of the Jews back to Jerusalem. So many things had happened that were against the Word of God that not much work was done in Jerusalem.

It was Ezra who led the second group charged with the rebuilding of the Temple which was financed by King Cyrus and any free will offerings.

Cyrus also returned to the Jews all the valuables stolen from the Temple of Solomon.

Later Nehemiah would lead a third group of Jews back to Jerusalem charged with rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

By all these things we should have no doubt that it is God that puts in place the leaders of this world!

A lot of things are said about the Jews good and bad, but one thing stands out, they are dedicated builders of their nation when they get the opportunity!

They were cured of their idolatry, that had come between them and Jehovah.

If we ask what is wrong with our world today, it should be obvious that all our problems come because of sin.

We see that Cyrus was a king who believed that all his success came because of the Lord God of Heaven and Earth.

Cyrus was no Christian, but he knew where his power came from, he was not an atheist.

To the Jews, Cyrus was Kuresh, the King of Persia.

We should be able to see that God can touch the heart of any ruler at any time as He says in the Book of Isaiah.

Isa 45:13 I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts.

God knows what is going to happen in this world before it happens!

God knows that the Jews want to see Israel survive even if many of them will never make it back home!

What did Cyrus ask the Jewish people?

*****Ezr 1:3 Who is there among you of all his people? 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 the God,) which is in Jerusalem.
Ezr 1:4 And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.

Cyrus did not demand that all the Jews leave, and many did not, but he did allow anyone who chose to go home and be a part of the rebuilding of the Temple and there homes the freedom to do so.

We should understand that these things were all recorded in the history of Persia and are all true.

The Persia we are familiar with are now the nations of Iraq and Iran.

Any Jew that was alive from the time of captivity would remember the preaching Jeremiah and Isaiah and the other prophets that had come true and they knew it was their sin that had brought on all these things.

All these are lessons for the Church. We can see again that God will always do what He says, and it is God who places rulers into power.

Our Holy God still rules this world!

The date of this proclamation of Cyrus was 538 BC the very first year of his reign over Babylon.

Cyrus had a personal reason for these things he did.

He wanted all people to pray to their god for a long life “for him” even after he had stated that it was it was the Lord God of Heaven who had given him the victory.

Just as so many do today, he had thoughts of all people worshiping the same God which is not true. Jehovah God is a jealous God who will not share His worship with others.

What did Jehovah teach the Jews?

Exo 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

Exo 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

Deu 6:15 (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

Many of the Jews were ready, for they knew what God had said to the prophets.

*****Ezr 1:5 Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.
Ezr 1:6 And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.

We should clearly understand that the chastening of the Lord is never about punishment it is always about reform. The Jews had been given the task of preserving the Word of God and they could not do this if they ignored the Word of God!

It is much like that today, the chastisement we go through is not about punishment it is about keeping us moving in the right direction toward eternal life in God’s Heaven.

God was working on His people all the time they were in captivity! They had been cured of their idolatry! They now rejected all pagan gods!

They longed for the Living God!

They had a new devotion to the Lord’s sanctuary, the Temple.

You see we must have a devotion to the House of God!

Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Nebuchadnezzar had captured Jerusalem in 604 BC.
The proclamation of Cyrus was in 538 BC.

Leaving time for the people to gather their belongings and make the long trip to Jerusalem, the work on the Temple began May 534 BC the 70 years had been completed just as Jeremiah had said by the Holy Spirit.

What caused Cyrus to do these things, besides wanting a prayer of thanks from these Jews?

His own advisers had told him of the prophesies of the prophet Isaiah.

If we cannot see the hand of God in all these things, then we do not understand the Lord as much as we think we do!

Just as God had done in Egypt, He had encouraged those who lived among the Jews to make a free will offering to them.

Cyrus would provide the funds for rebuilding the Temple.

Cyrus would provide a military unit for their protection for a time.

These people needed a free will offering in order to sustain themselves until they could get their homes rebuilt and grow their own crops.

We have missions and ministries that cannot survive today without free will offerings.

2Co 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
2Co 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
2Co 9:9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

After a rough start the children of Israel began the work of rebuilding the Temple.

*****Ezr 3:9 Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites.
Ezr 3:10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.

Verse 9 is not part of our lesson, but it is hard to miss that name Jeshua. In Hebrew it means “he will save”. In reality it is another form of the name Joshua which in the Greek is Jesus.

Jesus is the foundation of the Church and if you cannot accept the work of Jesus for your salvation, you cannot be saved!

For those who use typology, we can see the importance of this man named Jeshua!

In the Book of Nehemiah this same Jeshua was one of the men who gave the meaning of the Laws of Moses.

Neh 8:7 Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.
Neh 8:8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

We know that our Lord Jesus Christ has been involved in the safe keeping of the Word of God from the beginning.

Now this man was not Jesus in any way, but he could be considered a type of Jesus.

Even before the foundation of the Temple was laid the altar was repaired and offerings were made to Jehovah God.

A continuous burnt offering was made, and all the feast were kept during the rebuilding of the Temple.

These people had learned by a sad experience that they were dependent upon God!

The materials for the Temple were gathered from many nations such as Tyre and Sidon and the forest of Lebanon.

Have you ever noticed how God utilizes nations to move the Gospel?

The Romans built new roads to move their army quickly, but God used those same roads to proclaim the “Gospel”.

Today we see all sort of modern ways to communication but at the same time these things can be used to spread the “Gospel”.

We must never be afraid of these things. We must send the “Gospel” out in every way we can use because we know that the Word of God will not come back void and the Word of God cannot be stopped.

Christianity must be a uniting force and not be forced upon anyone like it was during the time of the crusades. God’s Word will make a way because it’s He who sends it!

The priests in their apparel blew the trumpets, the Psalmist with the cymbals, there was something going on at God’s House and all were invited to lay a stone on the foundation!

You want to build a Church, this is the best way!

There was singing and shouting, and praise being offered to Jehovah God for His true Word.

*****Ezr 3:11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

Psalm 136 which is probably used here, tells of the great power of God but the emphasis is on God’s goodness and God’s mercy.

Mercy can be understood as compassion for those who miserable! These Jews were in captivity for 70 years. Some fared well, but I suppose many of them were no more than slaves.

God had realized these things from His beginning, and He decided, He would be more like a Father than as a Deity who cared not for His creation!

God not only has “mercy” he also expects us to show mercy even to our enemies.

Mat 18:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
Mat 18:34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
Mat 18:35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

When we understand the mercy of God, we can begin our climb out of the miry clay of sin and then we will also praise the Lord for His goodness.

A good man knows the difference in right and wrong and he will choose right every time!

Without God’s goodness and God’s mercy, we would never get to see God’s “GRACE”.

Today the morality level and the goodness level in America, is almost nonexisting!

Being back home was a great feeling for the Jews.

Many of them had never even seen Jerusalem as they were born in captivity, but during those years their parents had continued to share the Word of God with them.

Many of those who had seen the Temple of Solomon knew that this rebuilt Temple would not possess the grandeur of Solomon’s Temple.

The things we will miss if we do look closely are:

1) This became a working church
2) They all worked together
3) They were obedient to the Word of God
4) They worked without ceasing
5) They celebrated singing worship songs
6) They were thankful

We know that today the Bible says we are a Temple of God. How are we working compared to these Jews?

1Pe 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
1Pe 2:3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
1Pe 2:4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
1Pe 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

What did Paul preach?

1Co 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
1Co 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
1Co 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

We must realize that a Temple that has fallen will never be as grand as it was before it fell and we must remember that today each Christian ia a Temple of God!

The second Temple would not ever reach the splendor of Solomon’s Temple. If we allow our temple to fall back into sin and return to the Lord with full forgiveness, we will never be the witness we could have been!

*****Ezr 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:
Ezr 3:13 So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.

The first and the second Temple were built in the exact same place, they had nearly the same foundation, they were both built with the same design.

The Temple that we raise, that our forefathers saw, is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and the Prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself the Chief Corner Stone.

We have the same “gospel”, we have the same Savior, and the same Holy Spirit who lives within us for conversion, edification, support, and comfort!

For the Jews the first Temple surpassed the second Temple because it was built with better materials.

But we today as sinners who were not fit to be a Temple of God, are built into a glorious Temple of God.

As a Temple of God we must be Holy!

1Co_3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Just as the second Temple was dedicated to God. so we are to be dedicated to God.

This is where the Church of today fails the most!

In fact there are so many that have rejected the truth of God, the Church is tarnished.

We must remember Jesus did not say the Word of God was true, Jesus said the Word of God is the “Truth”!

There is no higher authority anywhere on this planet and there never will be, until the Lord returns!

Joh_17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Ezra is considered to the father of Jewish religion and he gave his life to keep the Jews in line with the Word of God.

This the same period when the Pharisees got started and this began with good intentions to keep the people in line with the Word of God.

It later days, the they begin to add their own interpretation, their own words, making their own words, the words of man, to be greater than the Word of God.

Again this is the same thing happening in our world today. The Church has allowed the world inside the Church and the words of man and politicians to be greater than the Word of God.

Some people today cannot discern the truth from the man-made laws because they refuse to study the Word of God themselves and they depend on some man to lead them in the right way. It is a shame!

When the world gets inside the Church then the work of God will cease.

*****Ezr 4:24 Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

We must understand that the tactics of Satan and those who reject the only God, Jehovah are wicked!

If they cannot bend the goodness of the Church to their own wishes, they will change their tactics and call the good bad and the bad good.

They will hire politicians to frustrate the work of the Church.

They will seek out men with no scruples who will deliberately use their influence and their pocketbooks, in an evil cause for their own gain!

When we get away from the promises of God and listen to the false promises of the world, the Church will cease to exist.

If not for the Holy Spirit this would take place!

As our world removes more and more of the history of our lives, they gain more control.
As the world takes control of the minds of our young people, they gain more control.
As the world tramples on the Word of God, they gain more control.

We must wake up to these tactics, take our stand on the Word of God, and refuse to move until the Lord comes.

We are not to be timid with the Word of God, we are to be bold!

Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

When the Church will not take a stand, the world will roll right over us, as we see today!

Amen

Let’s Pray!