Yay! done with Kings and Chronicles.
I noticed one thing before leaving Chronicles that stuck out to me. Not sure who mentioned this, but I wrote in the margins after 2 Chronicles 36: 21 that “The Land will have Sabbath.” The 70 years in captivity, the people of Judah were forced away from their land. Apparently there is more in Jeremiah about this. We’ll see.
Personally, I’d rather jump into Nehemiah before Ezra, but Ezra really does take over where Chronicles ends. Ezra will lead the people who are returning to Jerusalem back to God and bak to the Word.
I’m reading the Bible through in 90 days. Join me. Click here for more information on the ESV Bible in 90 day plan that I am doing.
King Cyrus is stirred up by God. Pagan king… God’s instrument. The people of Judah and Benjamin and priests and Levites rise up to the challenge.
42,360 (besides servants) is the total of the assembly that returns. (Who do you think was tasked with counting all these people and animals whenever they are listed in the Bible? Do you know how hard it is to count a room of kids who are moving around? This is much harder task!)
After 7 months, they had the foundations of the temple and the altar laid. They offered sacrifices and honored Feast of Booths. They sang while doing the work: For he is Good. For His steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”
Interesting thought… When Solomon first built the temple, he had more wealth than any ever before or after. He had scores of people doing the work. The work must have been just that… work. Here, the circumstances are VASTLY different. The people have no homes to go back to. They are returning to nothingness and rebuilding it. There is a love and passion this time though. I haven’t ever thought of that.
Rebuilding stops because adversaries rise up and send a letter to King Artaxerxes to inform him of what is going on. He orders work to cease until he can investigate it more.
Artaxerxes learns the who, what, where, when and why… We are servants of the God of heaven and earth. We are rebuilding his house that was built many years ago. Cyrus gave us permission. Look in the records for yourself and let us get back to work.
Cease and desist is lifted. “Let it be done with all diligence.” Building begins again. temple is finished and dedicated. Passover is celebrated.
Interesting thought… what if God’ people just reply like this to our rulers today? We are doing the work that we must do. Look in the archives and see where we came from and by whose authority we work. Read it for yourself and get back to us…
Ezra teaches. The hand of the Lord is on him. Ezra recognizes that the heart of the king has been led by God.
The ancestry is researched and documented. Priests and Levites return to do their duties.
Even after a remnant is saved and returned to Jerusalem, the people begin to forsake the commands of God again. They start intermarrying with the locals. Ezra recognizes their guilt. He recognizes their sin. He pleads with God for forgiveness and recognizes that God is Just.
The people finally confess their sin. The people investigate those who had intermarried and hold them accountable for their actions.