Note: At North Baptist Church we are currently on a 31 week journey through the entire Bible. Called The Story, this journey finds us discussing the same Bible passage in our personal reading time, the sermon, Adult Bible Fellowships, and Small Groups. I figured I would post a few thoughts each week as I go through my lesson prep.
In this week of The Story we see the hope the people have been waiting for: the end of the exile. Cyrus the king of Persia decrees that the Israelites are to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple of the Lord (Ezra 1). The Israelites are not only allowed to return to Jerusalem, but they are being supplied with all the materials needed to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:4)!
Notice what the text says about who is behind this new action. While Cyrus the pagan king might be making the decree, it is Yahweh who is directing and guiding Cyrus to this decree. Yahweh brought the people into exile, and now He is returning them to the land. Through this action, God is preparing the people, the land, and Jerusalem for his next work of redemption.
Unfortunately I will not be in ABF this week, as I am on vacation. Hopefully you will have a good discuss in my stead. Be sure to look at the steps the returning exiles take to rebuild the Temple. Also note the failure of the returning exiles (Ezra 9-10)Tweet