God rules over all the affairs of humanity.
The demise of Israel came in 721 BC, when the nation was destroyed by the Assyrians. The demise of Judah came in 586 BC, when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. Jews (from Judah) were deported as captives to Babylon during several deportations between 607 and 586 BC. They remained there for 70 years, until freed to return to their homeland by Cyrus, the Persian king. This lesson focuses on the cause of the Jews captivity in Babylon, as well as the actions of the first Jews who returned to Judah when freed from their captivity.
Ezra 3:11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. 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 FALL OF JERUSALEM
A. Cause if the Captivity
2Ch 36:11 Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.
2Ch 36:12 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD.
2Ch 36:13 And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel.
2Ch 36:14 Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.
…….This shows the importance of having a moral national later. When the kings were without God, the majority of the people followed.
What a sad time when even the chief priests would transgress against the Lords commands. Not only did the people sin against the Lord, but also contaminated and defiled the house of the Lord.
It is one thing to turn away from the mercy of God, it is another to mock and trample over His statutes and covenants. Condemnation is the only result.
2Ch 36:15 And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place:
…….”rising up betimes”
Because the Lord and His Spirit is for us and not against us, he will send warning of the enemies attack early before it arrives. Even though He doesn’t always keep the battle out of our direction, He long’s for us to overcome and succeed. In proving this, His desire is to prepare our hearts for every opposition.
2Ch 36:16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.
…….When there is no remedy, (or when God runs out of options) He will use all resources to point His children back to Him, even the place of death.
The most tormenting thought about falling under the wrath of God has to be the constant knowing of “why and how” it got to this point.
B. Divine Judgement for Sin
2Ch 36:17 Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand.
2Ch 36:18 And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon.
2Ch 36:19 And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof.
…….When people harden their hearts toward God, he will give them exactly what they want. Living without the mercy of God is not living at all.
2Ch 36:20 And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia:
2Ch 36:21 To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.
…….It is amazing that the Lord used a prophecy of punishment to turn the Jews back to him.
RESTORATION AND RETURN
A. Release From Captivity
Ezr 1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
…….The mercy of God is still relevant even 70 years after wrath. His mercy is so real that he can soften the heart of the most powerful and most secular king of His this time.
There were still people, such as Daniel, who continued to worshiped only God and keep His methods.
Not only does the king give God the glory for his personal accomplishments, but also desires to build a temple so God’s people could worship Him again.
Ezr 1:2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
Ezr 1:3 Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.
Ezr 1:4 And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
…….With the proclamation of building the Lords temple, he also charges others to help the work by giving towards the expenses.
When God has a will he always makes the way!
B. Return From Captivity
Ezr 1:5 Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.
…….If you’ve ever thought your spirit was forgotten by God, don’t ever give up! These people waited, while many were born into captivity, for 70 years!
Ezr 1:6 And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.
Ezr 1:7 Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods;
Ezr 1:8 Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.
Ezr 1:9 And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives,
Ezr 1:10 Thirty basons of gold, silver basons of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand.
Ezr 1:11 All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem.
…….Ezra 2:64-70 tells the number of Jews who migrated to Judah. The number of Jews in this first return from captivity in Babylon is given as 42,360 people, accompanied by an additional 7337 male and female servants, and 200 seeing men and women. A grand total of 49,897 Jews resettled in Judah.
RECONSTRUCTING AND REJOICING
A. A Corporate Worship Restored
Ezr 3:1 And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.
…….How many times do we read that God’s people corporately worshipped? In times of distress, in times of need and in times of praise.
I long for the day that the church comes to an understanding that corporate worship will always get the attention of the Lord!
Ezr 3:2 Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.
Ezr 3:3 And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.
…….Even though the burnt offerings and blood sacrifices have been abolished, the method of worshipping in Spirit and in Truth will always be the method.
With that stated, if we ever want to get anywhere with Christ we must obey every command. Whatever it is that he speaks to remove, we must remove. If and when he speaks to add, we must add.
Ezr 3:4 They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required;
Ezr 3:5 And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.
Ezr 3:6 From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.
…….What an amazing thought that even before the work was started, the people made sure their spiritual work was in order.
Ezr 3:7 They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.
Rebuilding the Temple
Ezr 3:8 Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD.
Ezr 3:9 Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites.
…….During the Captivity, the Jews began building synagogues as houses of worship where the Scriptures were read and taught . However, without the temple at Jerusalem, no sacrifices were offered to God, and there was no central location for Jews together to keep the religious festivals. The post captivity juice salt corporate worship in a new temple in Jerusalem as essential. This was a reason gather, celebrate and rejoice!
B. Praising God; Weeping and Rejoicing
Ezr 3:10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.
Ezr 3:11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. 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.
…….”And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD”.
No matter the character or conscience of a person, when God does a work we have reason to praise!
Ezr 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:
Ezr 3:13 So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.
…….What a sight it must have been to see the elders rejoice and weep, knowing that their Lord has restored all!