Thoughts About What We’re Reading!
This week, we turn our attention to the book of Ezra
As we start to come to the close of our Old Testament reading, it is important to note the last few books cover a relatively short time span in the history of Israel.
As we read through Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, it is better to read them with the understanding of how they work together. We know from these books there were at least three returns from Babylon to the land of Israel.
In the book of Ezra, the first six chapters tell the story of the first return of the Jews from captivity led by Zerubbabel – with the primary focus on the rebuilding of the temple.
Ezra chapters 7-10, record events 60 years later when Ezra leads a second group of exiles back to Jerusalem.
The book of Esther takes place in the period between chapters 6 and 7 of Ezra.
The third return from Babylon is recorded in the book of Nehemiah.
I will write something on the books of Esther and Nehemiah in the weeks to come.
The events described in Ezra are set in Jerusalem and the nearby surrounding area. This reminds us that the returning exiles were only able to populate a tiny portion of their former homeland.
The mighty, independent nation of Israel was no more.
In Ezra, we witness the rebuilding of the temple, and see how the returning tribes worked together, sharing common struggles.
Sixty years go by, spiritual apathy sets in, and it seems we have a stop work order (my words) on the surrounding walls of Jerusalem. Ezra returns a second time with two thousand folks to infuse some energy and we have a spiritual revival!
By the end of the book, we find that Israel has renewed its covenant with God and is acting accordingly.
The Gospel Transformation Bible has this to say about the Book Of Ezra:
“God’s redemptive plan looms large here, as we see him preserving the people to whom he has given his covenant promises—through Abraham (Gen. 12:1–3) and David (2 Sam. 7:12–17). Those promises were carried through generations of Abraham’s seed and channeled through the tribe of Judah (see Ezra 1:5) until they ultimately culminated in Christ. Ezra shows the merciful continuity of God’s covenant, even for a sinful people punished by exile for their ugly rebellion against God. God’s promises will not fail; they are even more solid and beautiful than all the gold and silver vessels produced here as glorious evidence.”
Once more we are reminded that God keeps His promises and continues to bless those who are faithful to Him.
Until next time… keep reading!