Ezra

Studies in Ezra 1

Ezra was a descendant of Hilkiah, the high priest who found a copy of the law during King Josiah’s reign. (See Ezra 7:1 and 2 Chronicles 34:4) Ezra could not serve as a priest during the captivity because there had not been a temple since the exile, but he studied the Word of God and became “a skilled scribe in the law of Moses.” (Ezra 7:6) Ezra was also a great revivalist and reformer; in fact, revival among the returned exiles was initiated as Ezra read the Word of God. (See Nehemiah 8)

Ezra 1 & 2

Date: 5th century B.C.

Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther are the last of the historical books.

Both Ezra and Nehemiah write of events in Palestine which took place after some of the exiles returned from the Babylonian captivity.

Both books cover a period of approximately 100 years. The emphasis of Ezra is on the building of the Temple. In Nehemiah the emphasis is on the building of the wall of Jerusalem.

Between chapters 6 and 7 there is a gap of 50-60 years. During this period the events depicted in Esther took place.

This time lapse also accounts for the change in characters in the second part of the book. Some evidently had died.

Zerubbabel led the first return from exile in chapters 1-6. Ezra led the second in chapters 7-10.

The Jews were in Babylon. They hung their harps on the willow trees—how did they get there? See 2 Chronicles 36:14-21.

Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the city, the walls and the Temple. He took the sacred vessels/prisoners.

Jeremiah foretold that the captivity would last 70 years. See 25:12 and 29:10.

Daniel was reading this (9:2) and he began to pray for his people and for their return to their own land. Here we have a picture of a man of Go don his knees pouring over the Word of God. What a lovely sight.

“Prayer moves the hand of Him Who moves the Universe.”

Through the prayer of Daniel God stirred the heart of the king; and God’s program was set in motion.

v. 1—“The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia.”

Prefatory Note for Ezra

That the book of Ezra contains much-needed truth for the present time is my firm belief. A re-affirmation of early principles is necessary on account of the attempt on the part of many to set aside “that which is written” as to the gathering and fellowship of children of God in separation from evil; and this, because of break-downs on the part of some who sought, through grace, to take a scriptural position years ago. Corporate failure has been supposed (in some way incomprehensible to one who would be guided alone by the word of God) to sanction individual turning from the path of the truth, and thus excuse and palliate what the late W. Kelly very appropriately called “nothingarianism in Church relations.”

No amount of failure alters divine truth. We to-day are as responsible as our fathers were to go back to “that which is written” and act in faith upon it.

It is true difficulties and perplexities abound as might be expected, because of the near close of the dispensation. But “God and the word of His grace” are still all-sufficient for every peril or disaster. A careful study of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah would, I feel certain, preserve from a gloomy pessimism as to the carrying out of the truth of gathering to the Name of the Lord and furnish many needed warnings against the abounding snares of the last times.

This little book has been written far away from the opportunities of consulting the writings of others, while laboring in the gospel among the Pueblo Indians. Here in the wilderness the same blessed work is going on among our red-skinned fellow - believers, of making Christ the one only Centre. The principles put before them, and blessed to the souls of many, are, in this brief exposition, presented for the consideration afresh of those older in the truth.

Ezra

The events which we have been considering, at the close of Kings and Chronicles, were deeply significant. The throne of God was no longer at Jerusalem. God had fulfilled His threat of casting off the city which He had chosen. He had bestowed the throne of the earth upon the Gentiles (Daniel 2:37). Not only had Israel failed under the old covenant, and rejected God (1 Samuel 8:7), so that God was no longer their king; but even after grace had raised up the house of David to sustain the relati...

Ezra 9-10

Purification of the people. Up to this point, the restoration (for Ezra7 to 10 deal with restoration, rather than with revival) had produced its effects on the company which went up with Ezra to Jerusalem.   Brought by humiliation, fasting and supplications to realize their poor condition and all that they lacked for the service of God, these men realize that only grace can guide and keep them.  They hold fast to the word of God.  Their leaders understand that practica...

Ezra 8

The second exodus In this new exodus, Ezra is accompanied by part of the people who had remained in the province of Babylon.  These people, like their leader, possess an exact genealogical record.  Scriptures mentions all of them according to their families and not, like part of those in Ezra2, according to their cities.  In the first great movement of restoration, there had been relatively little doubt as to the rights of individuals to belong to the people of God, and thi...

Ezra 7

Ezra Here we enter on a new period in our history.  Forty-seven years have passed since the dedication of the temple, approximately sixty-eight years from the time of the decree given by Cyrus.  Ahasuerus (also known by the name of Xerxes), the monarch referred to in the book of Esther, the son of the Darius the Great (Hystaspis) mentioned in Ezra 5 and Ezra 6, had succeeded his father during this interval, and he had been followed on the throne by Artaxerxes his son (Artax...

Ezra 5-6

Revival and the Construction of the temple Ezra 5 In the preceding chapters, we have seen the activity of the remnant of Judah. They were composed, in large part, of people who were able to prove their genealogy. Those who were not able to do so were by that very fact excluded from the priesthood as being profane, but God recognized them nevertheless, as a whole so to speak, and, in the presence of their enemies, they bore certain features which distinguished them from the surrounding ...

Ezra 4

The work interrupted. Up to this point the people had shown themselves to be faithful in their witness, and the Lord had helped them and encouraged them. But this did not suit the enemy; he cannot stand to see the work of God prosper in this world, and immediately seeks to spoil it. He has more than one means to attain this goal. Here God characterizes the instruments of Satan with this word: "the adversaries of Judah" (v. 1). They belonged to the nations which the kings of Assyria, accor...

Ezra 3

The altar and the foundations of the temple. Our chapter points out a great many other characteristics of the remnant, in addition to the two features mentioned above. "And when the seventh month* came, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem. Then stood up Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer up burn...
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