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”!