“In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled.”
Don’t you wish all of the fulfillment God’s promises were that clearly pointed out for us? Big neon sign in the sky with a big arrow: God’s promise for you fulfilled here! It is certainly what I want from time to time, just a little reminder of the way in which God is working around us to fulfill his good plans and purposes. I’m certain that if someone were writing a book looking back into our time, as the author of Ezra was, I’m sure that he or she would be able to make a statement similar to what appears in the first line of Ezra.
That thought aside Ezra is a book all about restoration, not just of the Temple and Jerusalem, although they are the main focus of the work of the returning Israelites; but it most importantly about the restoration of Israel as a nation and more specifically, it is about the restoration of relationship between God and his people.
The thought that occurred to me as I was reading these chapters is that there is a broad-stroke message in Ezra for all of us who call ourselves Jesus-followers. I haven’t met a Christian yet who has not gone through a period of time in their lives when they feel like they are in exile. Either because they feel like God is miles away, or because God is disciplining them (yes this does happen my friends!) or because they have chosen to walk a path for a period of time that is away from God. The amazing truth that comes through Ezra is that God’s desire is to be restored to his people. He wants us to be in his presence, the whole focus of his plan since the fall is the restoration of humanity to himself.
As you read Ezra and Nehemiah and Esther, let that thought percolate in your mind and consider how God desires to bring you into a fuller restoration with him.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Ezra 4-6; Psalm 137