EZRA

The following comments are from Navigator's and Quiet Time Diary journals. One verse will be entered, then the comment, then the date.

1:1b, 2b    . . . the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus the king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing 2b. . . he has appointed me to build a temple . . . at Jerusalem.

    It's now 70 years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and God put this desire into King Cyrus' heart. Some of my desires seem to come from God, but don't always work out as expected. (DRM 10/18/88)

1:2    "Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

    Persia is Iran today. Certainly the leader of Iran would not say this today!
    In those days, it seems that the Lord God made Himself known more clearly to the leaders of countries - and they could choose to follow His direction or not. It SEEMS that today political diplomacy prevents any quick changes in countries external policies.
    As individuals, we can make quick changes if led by the Lord God or Jesus. When the Holy Spirit tells us to do something, it is our duty to do it ASAP! (DRM 7/4/15)

1:7    Also King Cyrus brought out the articles of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and put in the house of his gods;

    King Cyrus apparently had many options about the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem - he could have denied the request, or given permission to "go ahead," but he went so far as to donate a large quantity of the former items that were in the temple. It would seem by this reading that he had a lot of respect for God! (DRM 1/11/09)

2:64, 65    The whole assembly numbered 42,360, 65besides their male and female servants who numbered 7,337; and they had 200 singing men and women.

    I am impressed with a migration of 50,000 people today - it must have been a really large undertaking in that time. . . they didn't just get on buses! It also seems unusual that the singers are singled out - they were apparently part of the temple servants. How should this affect me? It shows that God is in the details - He wanted the specifics to prove that His Word is accurate = true. (DRM 1/12/09)

2:68    When they arrived at the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, some of the heads of the families gave freewill offerings toward the rebuilding of the house of God on its site.

    The giving of materials or money has always been important to the Lord. This gift shows our love for Him and also advances the cause of His Kingdom. (DRM 10/19/88)

3:6    From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD, but the foundation of the temple of the LORD had not been laid.

    Some Jews had just returned from exile in Babylon/Persia (1:2). Their purpose was to rebuild Jerusalem and worship the true God. Nehemiah refers to the building of the city walls and Ezra refers here to the renewal of the sacrificial offerings to God.
    Like the Israelites, we each have times when we don't worship the Lord or don't give Him enough of our time and devotion.
    We each need times of renewal so we don't drift away from our true devotion to our Creator and the Lord of the universe. (DRM 11/19/15)

3:8    Now in the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak and the rest of their brothers the priests and the Levites, and all who came from the captivity to Jerusalem, began the work and appointed the Levites from twenty years and older to oversee the work of the house of the LORD.

    My first thought was that they were very slow in waiting a full year to begin; then I thought about the long journey and they had to build their own homes before doing this work. As in my life, God is patient and knows all that is happening - but still He wants me (us) to move on in the work He has given us to do. (DRM 1/13/09)

    It required more than a year to gather all of the materials needed to begin construction of the temple mount area. (from Word of Life diary)

3:10    When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord. . .

    The foundation for the new temple was finally complete and people seemed happy that the work was now being seen. The foundation for all believers is the most important part and can't crumble. (DRM 10/20/88)

3:11    They sang, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, saying, "For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever." And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

    The Israelites were happy for every milestone in the rebuilding of the temple after their exile in Babylon. At this time they also had to rebuild the walls as written in Nehemiah.
    This verse refers to the celebration they had when the foundation was completed on the new second temple. Clearly they were worshipping and thanking God for all He had done.
    We can also celebrate the achievements in our lives as they occur. The important part is to remember God=Jesus and the part He had in allowing (whatever it is) to occur. (DRM 6/12/16)

4:2    they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers' households, and said to them, "Let us build with you, for we, like you, seek your God; and we have been sacrificing to Him since the days of Esarhaddon King of Assyria who brought us up here."

    This verse doesn't sound bad to me, but these people were the enemies of Judah (v.1) and I think the Israelites wanted to stay pure. Only God knows the heart of these people - and I can think of the differences that exist today between the Jews and the Gentiles. Further reading in the Word of Life diary indicates that the enemy wanted to intermingle and dominate the recently returned Israelites. (DRM 1/14/09)

4:16    ". . . We inform the king that if that city (Jerusalem) is rebuilt and the walls finished, as a result you will have no possession in the province beyond the River."

    This was the end of a letter to King Artaxerxes written by Rehum, the commander (v. 8) of the inhabitants who lived near Jerusalem before the Israelites moved in from Babylon. I would expect them to be upset with the "invasion" of the Israelites, so this letter should be expected.
    As a Christian today, I would try to negotiate a way to solve any differences, but also remember that Satan's plan is to thwart us from any progress that will lead people to the Lord. (DRM 1/15/09)

4:21    So, now issue a decree to make these men stop work, that this city (Jerusalem) may not be rebuilt until a decree is issued by me.

    Time passes. This all makes more sense when we (I) realize that King Cyrus (1:1) authorized the Israelites to go to Jerusalem, but now King Artaxerxes was in charge - so he stopped the building. In v. 24, we are told King Darius will authorize them to continue. Like the Israelites, I need patience as the world around me changes. While not my plan, I have to follow His direction. (DRM 1/16/09)

4:24    Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

    As always, the Israelites had opposition from the opposing rulers who did not want Jerusalem rebuilt. A Christian can always expect opposition also - but must persevere. (DRM 10/21/88)

5:2    Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, helping them.

    This implies that the work on the temple was started again, not by a king, but by God through His prophets. Though some objected, the Lord will win after all! (DRM 10/22/88)

5:3    At that time Tattenai, the governor of the province beyond the River, and Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues came to them and spoke to them thus, "Who issued you a decree to rebuild this temple and to finish this structure?"

    It seems that the "stop order" decree from King Artaxerxes was to stop building the city of Jerusalem, not the temple. Two prophets were consulted (v. 1,2) and the decision was made to proceed with rebuilding the temple.
    Like the Israelites, I would also want to "do what I came for." I would read the decree and see if I could find a "loophole" so I could do what I came to do. In some ways I feel exactly that way today. (DRM 1/17/09)

5:8    Let it be known to the King (Darius) that we have gone to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God, which is being built with huge stones, and beams are being laid in the walls; and this work is going on with great care and is succeeding in their hands.

    As the temple walls were being rebuilt, the neighbors wrote a letter of question/complaint to King Darius who authorized the project. (Really it was his predecessor King Cyrus (6:3).) It seems to me that whatever project is started - good or bad - that there will be people in opposition. It's best to expect it when you (I) begin. (DRM 5/1/10)

5:11    Thus they answered us, saying, 'We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth and are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished.

    This verse is part of a letter written to King Darius in Babylon asking if he authorized the re-building of the temple in Jerusalem.
    In this verse the builders clearly expressed their faith in God. Not only did they state their faith, they were actually doing what the Lord directed them to do.
    Am I/we doing the same thing? When God tells us (even in a small voice) do we do anything, or write it down or just forget it happened?
    I pray that I may hear and DO the will of God. (DRM 6/11/14)

5:12, 13    But because our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon. 13However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this house of God.

    This part of Ezra seems to give an accurate history of what happened to Solomon's temple, which was being rebuilt at the time.
    The writers were from "the province beyond the River" (v. 6) who wanted the work stopped. They were writing to Darius who was the king of Persia (4:4); hoping he would stop the work.
    God's plan clearly was for the temple to be rebuilt and Darius later approved the rebuilding of the temple.
    This is another reminder that God is in control, no matter what the enemies may try - they can't stop God's will. (DRM 3/7/16)

5:17    "Now if it pleases the king, let a search be conducted in the king's treasure house, which is there in Babylon, if it be that a decree was issued by King Cyrus to rebuild this house of God at Jerusalem; and let the King send to us his decision concerning this matter."

    The "neighbors" were sending a letter to the new King Darius (v. 7) telling him what was going on in Jerusalem. They wanted him to tell them if the work should stop or continue, as they wanted it to stop.
    Satan puts obstacles in our way all the time, like this letter, but we (I) are to continue pressing forward in our service to Jesus=God. (DRM 1/18/09)

6:6    Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the province beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai and your colleagues, the officials of the provinces beyond the River, keep away from there.

    The person who wrote (new) King Darius complaining about the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple was Tattenai (v. 5,6) and a new decree stated that he was to keep away! God worked through Kings Cyrus and Darius to get this temple built - He can change all circumstances - even today! (DRM 1/19/09)

6:14b    . . . they finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia.

    The memo was found to prove that King Cyrus ordered the temple to be rebuilt, so it was completed in the sixth year of Darius (v. 5). Despite objections in Chapter 5, the work continued. We must always continue despite objections. (DRM 10/23/88)

6:16    And the sons of Israel, the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy.

    God wants us to have joy and celebrate major accomplishments when they are completed. The temple was complete and now they could worship the true God in a special place.
    The events in the USA today are also a cause of celebration because it shows that a majority of people are open to change. The important question to me is if our leader will follow the direction of God, like the Israelites did in this passage. (DRM 1/20/09)

7:6a    this Ezra went up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given . . .

    This is the introduction to the person Ezra. It seems obvious to me that a person that is totally devoted to God's work was recognized by others. Christians should also be recognized, as different, by others. (DRM 10/24/88)

7:10    For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.

    Ezra moved from Babylon (v. 6) to Jerusalem to study and share his knowledge of the Law with the Israelites.
    As we (I) learn more about the Bible, we should want to share our knowledge with new believers - and also to grow in the faith/knowledge - as Ezra did. (DRM 1/21/09)

7:17    . . . with this money, therefore, you shall diligently buy bulls, rams and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings and offer them on the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem.

    I never really thought about that. I thought the silver and gold was used to create the utensils and cover the walls of the temple - but that was Solomon's temple. Here silver and gold (v. 16) are used as money to buy the animals for sacrifice. It's more like currency of today. This was just one of many things that King Artaxerxes trusted Ezra with. (DRM 1/22/09)

8:18    According to the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of insight of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel, namely Sherebiah, and his sons and brothers, 18 men;

    Ezra saw that of all the people who wanted to go to Jerusalem, none were Levites (v. 15), so he put in a request and received Sherebiah and his family. The Levites were necessary to be the priests of the temple.
    Ezra depended on the Lord God for his needs and protection on the journey. As time progresses, I wonder if I should be praying and depending more and more on Him? The answer, of course, is "Yes!" (DRM 1/23/09)

8:31    On the twelfth day of the first month we set out from the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way.

    Ezra depended on God to protect him during his travels and prayed to Him to protect him (Ezra). Certainly I need protection from God during my travels also! (DRM 10/25/88)

8:34    Everything was numbered and weighed, and all the weight was recorded at that time.

    I would call this section of Chapter 8 the transfer of the wealth. The silver and gold was given to the priests (v. 24) before the journey. God protected them for the journey (v.31), then the treasure was brought to the temple (v. 33). God had protected them and their movements in the journey - just as He does for us - as He wills. (DRM 1/24/09)

9:1a    Now when these things had been completed, the princes approached me, saying, "The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, according to their abominations. . . "

    The Israelites were intermarrying with the peoples of the neighboring lands, which is clearly against the Law. This is referred to as an abomination against God.
    Whenever I think of abomination, I wonder what will happen during the tribulation period when the antichrist enters the holy place. Probably the only similarity is that both acts are considered "abominations." (DRM 1/25/09)

9:2    For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has intermingled with the peoples of the lands; indeed, the hands of the princes and the rulers have been foremost in this unfaithfulness."

    The Old Testament has hundreds of laws that were written for God's chosen people, the Israelites. When I think of the Law, I primarily think of the Ten Commandments, but there are a lot more. . . including one on marriage for the Israelites - that they should only marry other Israelites.
    Ezra, or the writer of this book, felt it was an "abomination" to God when he discovered that the Israelites had married non-Israelites.
    God gave us laws to follow. Thankfully, as Christians, Jesus died for us and our sins, but it is good to try to follow the law - if it still applies to us. (DRM 10/21/15)

9:7    Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt, and on account of our iniquities we, our kings and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity and to plunder and to open shame, as it is this day.

    The writer was praying to the Lord God. This confession of sins was not just for him personally, but for the nation of Israel. They had been in captivity and now had the opportunity to return to Jerusalem and start anew.
    When we confess our sins and the Lord forgives us (thank you, God!), we have an opportunity to start anew also. It's a long, slow process called sanctification, but, with His help and His Holy Spirit, we will improve and become more like Him. (DRM 5/2/14)

9:8    But now for a brief moment grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us an escaped remnant and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage.

    This verse is just a part of a prayer given by Ezra. I thought this verse is also somewhat appropriate today. When our (my) eyes were opened, it was only because of God's grace. I had escaped from worldly desires and was now a part of His kingdom - like the Israelites entry in Jerusalem - now they and we need revival to keep on track and serve Him daily. (DRM 1/26/09)

9:15    O Lord, God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.

    To be a sinner is something that all of us have experienced. No matter what we have done, we don't deserve God's forgiveness, but, thanks to Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven! (DRM 10/26/88)

10:2    Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, said to Ezra, "We have been unfaithful to our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope for Israel in spite of this."

    God wants us to be aware of our errors (sins) and to ask Him for forgiveness - that hasn't changed in thousands of years. Shecaniah saw that God is willing to forgive us, and in the next verse, he suggests a way to avoid making the same mistake again. I (we) need to learn the same thing - what am I doing wrong (sinning) in and what can I do to correct my error? And not repeat the same sin (error) again. (DRM 1/27/09)

10:11    (Ezra said) "Now make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives."

    God is gracious and will accept our repentance. In this case Ezra made the Israelites aware of their sin and they immediately (v. 12) asked for forgiveness, as I should in similar cases. (DRM 10/27/88)

10:19    They pledged to put away their wives, and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their offense.

    The men of Judah and Benjamin (v.9) admitted their sin (v. 12) and were fully investigated (v. 17) by the households (v.16). As this verse (v. 19) states, they pledged to turn (repent) and change their ways.
    This is the same general format that we (I) should also follow when I sin - repent and change. (DRM 1/28/09)