The book of Ezra begins where 2 Chronicles ended—the voice of God through Cyrus of Persia to His people Israel telling them to return home. This was in fulfillment of the Lord’s word through Jeremiah. Like God’s message so long ago to His people who were in bondage in Egypt, this word through the Persian king was a call to worship. The exiles were to return to Israel to rebuild the temple so that the people of God might worship the Lord in accord with His Word.
Cyrus expressed his own desire that the God of Israel would be with the returning Jews in this great endeavor. The Persian king said that the Lord was the God who was “in Jerusalem.” Did he understand that the God of the Jews was more than a local deity?
The time had come for the people of God to give their lives for the progress of the Lord’s kingdom in their day. The tribal leaders of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and the Levites responded to this call to action—“everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the Lord.” Many others came alongside them with the gifts that would be necessary in order for the task to be accomplished. Even Cyrus sent back with this mission team “the vessels of the house of the Lord that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods.”
This passage also speaks of more that was “freely offered” by the people of God on this great occasion. They had holy work before them—work that would require courage and sacrifice. They would face enemies and difficulties recorded in Ezra and Nehemiah. Their task was appropriate to the era in which they lived. They were willing to do their part.
We are called to serve God’s kingdom today in a way that is far greater than anything that these returning exiles were to do in Jerusalem and the land of Israel. Inspired by the great offering of King Jesus, we have the privilege of bringing the message of Lord to the ends of the earth. This mission is fraught with danger and difficulty, but our God is with us, and He will use us to do the part that He has prepared for us to do. Let all who love the Savior and who are called by His Name serve Him with ready hearts and hands. Let us seek His presence and rise up to bring glory to His Name.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Father God, You fulfilled Your Word that You gave to Your people through the prophets. You kept a remnant from among them during the years of exile and then restored them to the land of Judah. But You have done much more than this in the redemption that has come to us through the gift of Your Son. You are building Your church throughout the world. Your promises are entirely reliable. The matters of Your greatest interest should be our focus as well. We are so easily distracted by our own smaller thoughts and fascinations. Help us to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness day by day. We trust You with all things, great and small.