Saturday, February 04, 2017

Ezra: 20 years and 10 chapters in 20 minutes

 I am supposed to teach from Ezra tomorrow.  These are my notes, for what they are worth.  

Date of happenings: 535 B.C. and following, right after book of Daniel. 
Date of writing:  end of this period, by the priest Ezra who joins the exiles later in the story (not beginning)
Theme: Exiles in Babylon return to Judah (journey took 3-4 months)
Three big take ways:
1.     God moves people for His purposes
2.     Worship is central to who we are individually and together
3.     God restores (in this case Israel, with whom He is not finished.  However, we the church are not Israel;  the U.S. is not Israel; we should not confuse the three).

Chapter 1: (Read in entirety). “In order to fulfill the word of the Lord by Jeremiah,” God moved Cyrus, the king of Persia, to send the Jewish exiles who wished to go back to Judah.  Isaiah also prophesied this, long before, but there isn’t a specific record of Jeremiah saying it.

Cyrus did not force them; he also instituted freewill offerings rather than taxes.  They were allowed to take the instruments of the temple to restore temple worship.  
What was in it for Cyrus?  Hard to tell; the Jews know they are still “captives.”
v. 5, “Everyone whose heart God moved,” so apparently some were chosen to return.
Only Benjamin, Judah, and Levites; what happened to the other ten tribes?

Chapter 2: About 50,000 returned; most stayed or were scattered; Esther, Mordecai

Chapter 3: Worship begins to be restored. Read 3:10-13. 

Chapter 4:  Account of opposition to temple building by Samaritans/pagans; commanded to stop by new king

Chapter 5: Maybe about 15 years later, under leadership of Zechariah and Haggai, prophets, they start to rebuild and appeal to Cyrus’ earlier original command when opposed. The prophets motivated them by the fact that they were building their own houses but God’s was laid waste.  Like Daniel, they didn’t cave easily.

Chapter 6:  The governor Tattenai agrees and the temple is built and worship begins.

Chapter 7:  Ezra sent as prophet, teacher, and leader, comes with about 1,000 more exiles and families. 

Chapter 8:  Details of who came with Ezra. 8:21 is interesting. 

Chapter 9: Problem of marriages with pagan women since returning

Chapter 10:  Problem dealt with; 133 men involved; repentance and “putting away wives according to Mosaic law.” 

My personal thoughts:  Let God move people for His purposes.  Make worship central and a priority. Understand the difference and similarities between Israel, church, and U.S., and don’t confuse them.

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