Monday 15 June 2015

Bible Book:

"Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: the Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem in Judah." (v. 2)

Ezra 1:1-11 Monday 15 June 2015

Psalm: Psalm 22:1-21


The book of Ezra tells the story of the return of the exilesfrom Babylon to Jerusalem, which is why it is found among the'history' books of the Old Testament. In that sense the story ittells is a fulfilment of the prophecies found in the second half ofIsaiah, that in the desert will be built a "highway for our God"(Isaiah 40:3) enabling his people toreturn.

Moreover, just as Isaiah points to the striking fact that theinstrument God chooses to make this happen is none other than Cyrusthe Persian, so too Ezra the scribe records how all theseremarkable events begin with a decree from King Cyrus, proclaimedboth by a herald and as a written edict throughout his kingdom(verse 1). Cyrus' decision may appear to others as a change inimperial policy following the overthrow of the old regime; but toEzra, as to Isaiah, it revealed God's hand at work.

Ezra goes on to record what this decision involved; how the headsof the families of Judah and Benjamin were allowed to take backwith them "the vessels of the house of the Lord that Nebuchadnezzarhad carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of hisgods" (v. 7). Indeed he goes on, as a good official, to record indetail an inventory of all the vessels that Sheshbazzar, the princeof Judah, would take back to Jerusalem (verses 9-11).

All this Ezra records in his matter-of-fact, official way; butperhaps this is a reminder to us all that God is equally capable ofspeaking though scribes and officials as through prophets andpreachers.

To Ponder

  • It can be tempting to dismiss the decisions of 'secularauthorities' and appeal to a higher religious authority; but towhat extent is it possible for God act through political leadersand governments?
  • Are there occasions when we can detect the 'hand of God' inworld events? If so, when have they been?
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