Brothers and sisters,
The book of Ezra records a very important time in the history of God’s people Israel. It records the end of their Babylonian captivity and return to Israel as prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah, who had said that it would happen after 70 years of captivity. Their return meant they had learned their lesson and were ready to stay away from idol worship to return to the true worship of Jehovah. The return from captivity was God’s special way of preparing Israel to be a global blessing again. (Jer. 29:11: 29:10). The nation would fulfill its original commission to bless the other nations of the world. (Jer. 31:7; 33:9)
The name Ezra means: “the Lord is our Help.” Israel was going to need God’s intervention, provision and protection to return home and to rebuild the temple of the Lord. The temple was central to their worship of Jehovah and in obedience stay away from the gods of the heathen.
In this book, what stands out to me is not Ezra the Scribe as much as the hand of God moving on king Cyrus to release the people to go home and to fully sponsor the building of their temple in Jerusalem. Cyrus acknowledged that the Lord God of Israel is the only true and living God. This was the moving or stirring of the Holy Spirit in him to actually make it the law of the land to do this.
Ezra 1:1-4 The LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, 2 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Who is among you of all His people? May 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 God), which is in Jerusalem. 4 And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem. NKJV
Do you realize what a miracle this was? Cyrus like Pharaoh of old headed the superpower of that day…the Medo-Persian empire. It took the hand of the Lord for him to liberate God’s people willingly. Babylon had fallen due to the pride of its leaders. It fell to Medo-Persia a gentler empire with a different policy. The Spirit of God stirred the heart of king Cyrus to send Israel back to its homeland and to provide them with supplies to rebuild the temple. He also restored the gold and silver that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and put in the temple of his gods. What a move of God this was!
In addition, God directed later Persian kings such as Darius and Artaxerxes to ensure that the Jews received all that they need to revive their worship in Jerusalem.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Lordship. The story of Ezra emphasizes God’s lordship over the nations. The Holy Ghost moved on kings to release their wealth for the building of His temple.
God’s people also gave (Ezra 1:5-6) and as they obeyed God and stepped out to go build the temple, He saw to it that the wealth of the heathen came to them in abundance. Today, this still is God’s plan. Look at these Scriptures:
Prov. 13:22 But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. NKJV
Isa 60:5 …Then you shall see and become radiant, And your heart shall swell with joy; Because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, The wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you.
Isa 60:11 …therefore your gates shall be open continually; They shall not be shut day or night, That men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles, And their kings in procession. NKJV
As you and I obey God with our finances and go about building His kingdom as laborers together with Him, He by His Spirit of Lordship and Dominion will move on the world, the heathen and the corrupt to release their wealth to come to us for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to be fully furnished. Amen!