Friday, July 15, 2016

he got by with a little help from his friends

The Word for today:
Ezra 4
mark this: Ezra 5:1-2 --
Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the prophet prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them.
Then Zerubbabel set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, helping them.
The Bible student will find it helpful to create clusters. Like grapes on the vine, clusters are things that are meant to hang together.
The book of Ezra should always be thought of as part of a cluster which includes the books of Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah. Bible scholars call them post-captivity books.
God's people are taken away (Isaiah, Jeremiah).
We must remember that the great prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah warned the people that they would undergo judgment for their unbelief and idolatry. Just as they predicted, judgment struck. Much of the nation was carried off to Babylon. Jeremiah said they would remain there for 70 years.
God's people in foreign captivity (Daniel, Ezekiel).
During their captivity in Babylon, the prophets Daniel and Ezekiel were among them.
God's people come back home (Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah).
The book of Ezra begins when, after seventy years of captivity, the Persian ruler Cyrus issues a decree permitting the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.
The first group to return is led by Zerubbabel, who was a political leader in the line of King David. Spurred on by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, what came to be known as Zerubbabel's temple was completed. It was very plain and simple, not at all the sumptuous spectacle which Solomon's temple had been. The old-timers, who remembered the elegance of Solomon's temple before it was destroyed, wept at the contrast. But the rest of the people were greatly encouraged that a temple stood again.
About fifty years later, Ezra led a second contingent back to Jerusalem. As we will see in subsequent chapters, Ezra worked to rebuild the spiritual lives of the people.
After we finish the book of Ezra, we will enter the book of Nehemiah. He directed and inspired the people to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem.
So always cluster these books and characters. Together they form a picture of how God uses contrasting personalities with their various gifts to perform his purposes:
Zerubbabel, the political leader, rebuilt the temple.
Nehemiah, the layman, rebuilt the walls.
Ezra, the priest, restored hope and faith among the people.
The prophets Haggai (the practical, nuts-and-bolts builder) and Zechariah (a poet-dreamer) cultivated the revived spiritual lives of the people.
Ezra got by with a little help a lot of help from his friends.

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