Scripture Read: Ezra 1 - 2
Title: The Exiles Return to Jerusalem
(H) Highlight verse: "Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel - he is the God who is in Jerusalem.' " Ezra 1:2 - 3
(E) Explain: The Israelites had been in captivity for a long time, about 60 years (this time frame is correct if we consider the the beginning when Judah was taken into captivity around 598 B.C.). They were under the rule of King Cyrus. In his first year as ruler the LORD stirred his spirit to allow the Israelites to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple that was destoryed by King Nebuchadnezzar. God allowed the exile to happen originally as judgment against Israel and Judah for their disobedience and unfaithfulness. Many prophets arose during this time, so proclaimed judgment while others spoke of the day when Israel would go back to their land. The number of people returning would be close to 50,000 individuals and their livestock.
(A) Application: The Bible continually proves the faithfulness of God. While it is true that God allowed the exile of His people as a way of punishing and judging them for their disobedience, and He allowed it because of His great love for His people. We so often look at hardships, struggles and difficulties in our lives as ways that God is punishing or abandoning us. But often God allows us to go through trials and tribulations because of His great love for us. As we have seen throughout the Bible that when we get off track, God will go to whatever lengths necessary to get us back on track with Him. He has promised through Jesus Christ to give life and give it abundantly. He has promised forgiveness, redemption, restoration and transformation in the lives of those who believe. These are promises that He will and has kept.
(R) Respond: Today, you may feel like a captive trapped in exile in a foreign land, but be encouraged because God is with you, as He was with His people in captivity in Babylon.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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