Three Deportations into Babylonian Captivity
1. 605 B.C. – Nebuchanezzar, Jehoiakim deported to Babylon
2. 597 B.C. – Nebuchanezzar, Zedekiah put as vassal king
3. 586 B.C. – Nebuchadnezzar takes Jerusalem, temple destroyed, and city is leveled.
Length of Captivity (70 years) Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10
• Jeremiah’s dates of prophesying are 627 B.C – 586 B.C.
• Temple destroyed 586 B.C. / Temple finished 516 B.C.
Three Returns from Babylonian Captivity
1. 538 B.C. – led by Sheshbazzar / Ez 1:1 [1st year of Cyrus]
2. 458 B.C. – led by Ezra / Ez. 7:7 [7th year of Artaxerxes]
3. 444 B.C. – led by Nehemiah / Neh. 2:1 [20th year of Artaxerxes]
A. Why so early in his reign? (1:1)
• Josephus has Daniel, serving as Prime Minister, reading the prophecy of Isaiah to Cyrus / Is. 44:24-28; 45:11-13
• Isaiah ministered to Judah from 739-686 B.C. (Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah) Cyrus’ proclamation was in 538 B.C. – 150 years later.
B. Details of Cyrus’ Edit (Ezra 1:2-4; 6:3-5)
• Personal order for the rebuild.
• Cost defrayed from King’s account.
• Certain specifications to be met in the rebuilding.
• All Jews could return if they wished.
• Those Jews who remained in Babylon were urged to assist financially.
• Original temple articles, taken by Nebuchadnezzar, were to be returned.
C. Zerubbabel and Jeshua as their leaders
• Zerubbabel was of the lineage of David through Jehoiakin (1 Ch. 3:17)
• Jesus was Zerubbabel’s descendant (Matt. 1:12-13)
• Jeshua served as the High Priest in the lineage of Aaron. His father, Jozadak was exiled under Nebuchadnezzar (1 Chr. 6:15)
D. Relatively Few Return (2:1-70)
• 42,360 (besides 7,337 servants and 200 singers)
• Probably 2-3 million in exile
E. Altar and Festival of Booths (3:1-6)
• Zerubbabel and Jeshua put the altar in place
• The Feast of Tabernacles (v. 4) Sept-Oct 537 B.C.
• Reminiscent of the Exodus out of Egypt (Lev. 23)
F. Building Temple and Opposition (3:8-4:5)
• When foundation was laid, praise began (3:10-11)
• Tears were shed by those who knew the original temple (3:12-13)
• Outsiders trying to sabotage the work (probably these where Assyrians and Babylonians who were placed in this land just as the Israelites were placed in other lands.)
G. Discrepancy in Text and Time (Insert 4:6-23)
• This is an insert by Ezra to show how there was opposition to all that the Hebrews were doing in the land regarding the temple and the rebuilding of the walls.
• It is not sequential. This is a literary technique.
H. Prophets Exhortation to Build (5:1-2)
a) 1:1 8th month of 2nd year of Darius.
b) 1:3-6 The Lord exhorts the exiles to not be like their fathers who pass away with time, but to take heed of His statues which stand forever.
c) 6:9-15 Joshua will finish the temple and be the priest. However, this is a prophetic illustration of the Messiah (Joshua = Jesus) who will build the Temple of the Lord and bear the glory, rule on the throne, etc.
I. King Darius gets involved (5:3-6:11)
• The Governor of the land questions the rebuilding
• The Jews keep building as a letter is sent to King Darius
• King Darius finds Cyrus’ Edict in the annuals of the Persian kings. This was found in Achmetha, in the province of Media.
J. Dedication of Temple (6:13-22)
• Temple finish on Feb/Mar of 516 B.C. – 6th year of Darius’ reign
• The people reestablished the Passover and The Feast of Unleavened Bread
1) Ezra description (7:1-10)
• Lineage to Aaron the High Priest
• Skilled Scribe in Law of Moses
• Prepared heart to seek the Law of the Lord, to do it, and to teach it.
2) Ezra leaves Persia (8:1-36)
• Assemble at the River Ahava
• Prepared fast and prayer
• No help from King Artaxerxes desired – only wanted the Lord to receive credit
3) Sins of the people (9:1-5)
• The Holy Seed was mixed
• Deuteronomy 7:2, 3
4) Ezra’s Prayer (9:6-15)
• Shame at the guilt of the people
• Admits guilt of all people (past and present)
• Recognizes God’s grace by producing a remnant and giving a place back in Jerusalem
• Speechless after discovering the intermarriages
• Sense God punished rebellion before, God will probably do so again and wipe out the remnant
• Leave themselves at the mercy of God
5) People’s response (10:1-44)
• Willing to put off intermarriages
• Listing of those involved in intermarriage
Ezra – Take Away Points
#1 Spiritual leaders are to lead.
Our leaders are under God’s commission to confront, hold up the standard, do the hard work of moving us to the image of Christ. How they go about it is still in a human body. They are broken, frail, and, at times, sinful. This does not negate their authority nor their responsibility in our lives.
#2 Satan is an accuser.
We are dressed in filthy rags as we stand alone before God. We are accused and wretched. The Lord rebuked Satan and did the following:
• Reminded Satan and Joshua that He chose Jerusalem.
• Removed filthy garment and clothed with rich robes.
• The Angel of the Lord stood by. We stand clothed in righteousness before God only with Christ standing by.
• An admonishment to walk in ‘My ways and keep My commands.’
#3 The Glory of the Lord is not recorded as Dwelling in the Temple. Tabernacle (Ex. 40:34-38) and Solomon’s temple (I Kgs. 8:10-11), but not Zerubbabel’s temple. Why? Ezekial saw the Spirit depart before the Babylonian Captivity (Ez. 10:18) and saw that He would return to The Temple and Mountain of the Lord (43:1-5). John the Apostle saw a vision of the New Jerusalem and there was no Temple–The Lamb was the Temple! (Rev. 21:1 ff, 22)
#4 Who is going to break the chains of the past?
Zechariah mentions breaking away from the sins of the fathers. Many of us are fighting our fathers sins which we have confirmed in our own lives. Now is the time to break them. Now is the time to fight, in the Spirit, the enemies of the past.
#5 When there is sin, repent.
Repentance over intermarriages–There was a great fear over being punished like their ancestors by the hand of God.
• The lineage was at risk with intermarriage.
• Repentance happened through divorce. How could this be? It seems they chose the lesser of two evil.
#6 To follow the Lord you probably will not be alone, but you won’t be in the majority.
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