Day 172: Ezra; a second chance
Ezra is a priest who helped rebuild the Jewish nation after their 50 years in exile. This story takes place in two areas, Israel and Persia, which is now Iran. The Persians take over the Babylonian capital, basically Baghdad in present day Iraq. The Persian empire is Northern Africa, Egypt, India, and Libya. The Middle East does seem to be a battleground, exchanging hands all the time. Seems true, even today.
The Book of Ezra is going to be naming the men, families, children and all who came back to Jerusalem that the king of Babylonian, King Nebuchadnezzar had carried away. I won’t list any of that but it is way into the thousands. They brought back with them all the things that Babylonia had stolen from Solomon’s temple. This was decreed by the Persian King, Cyrus. King Cyrus freed all captives there to go back to their homes, if they wanted.
This is definitely a revival, and the Jews don’t want to make the same mistakes they made in the past. They even divorce their non-Jewish wives at the urging of Ezra via the suggestion of Shecaniah, because marrying the foreign wives could bring about destruction as they had followed them in idolatry of the false gods. Even wise old Solomon failed here because some of his wives talked him into building shrines to their gods.
They are ordered to leave, along with their children so that the Jewish race can become pure again. But, remember in the Book of Ruth, who was an Arab (from Moab), she became the great grandmother of King David, and the line of descendants whom Jesus came through. So, it was not necessarily the current law that they COULDN’T marry outside of their religion. This was the law of Moses, and they thought it didn’t apply to their current day living.
As happens when people move around to different places, new families are born in the new place. Children grew up there, homes may have become situated, and so not all of them left. Some were content to remain in Persia, and did so. This is because this ruler is a good ruler. He allows those that want to, to leave, and those that want to stay, can stay. It’s a long walk home. They were given cattle, and other things to sustain their journey. Once home, they took the time to get settled in, so they didn’t begin building the Second Temple until the second year.
This is about 500+ years before Jesus is born, but when He was a man He prophesized to His disciples that this temple would be demolished, and every stone would be torn down, but in three days it would be rebuilt again. No one understands what He means, because clearly, to build a temple takes much manpower, money, and time. How could He rebuild it in three days? It crashed when Jesus was crucified, and when they saw this happening to the temple, many eyes were opened that He truly was the Son of God, and on the third day, He arose from the dead, and that is what He meant. Jesus came to establish a New Covenant.
It has been said that something is going to happen to our current world that will be so cataclysmic, even all governments will not know what to do with their people because there will be so much chaos. It will cause many to convert their lives back to God, and those that don’t will be left to live in the craziness. It will be like you get one final chance to repent, or suffer the consequences because there will be no turning back. It will be so profound, you will know this is from God. But, there will be many that will try to say it never really happened THAT way, and try and keep people from repentance and conversion. Some believe that this is when the Rapture will happen. After that, things will get very ugly.
Note — I believe in prophecy. There is no doubt in my mind that God’s Word will NOT come true. The Antichrist will come from a powerful position, possibly in military, and he will look to be a good person. It will look like he is uniting the Jewish and Arab nations, but as soon as that treaty is signed, the Jewish people will be attacked. If this is true, all we have to do is wait and see. He will be able to perform what appears to be miracles, so be very diligent about that. Because when Jesus comes back, you will see Him come from the sky, the Heavens, and there will be no mistaking Him. He will only have to hold up His hand, and the chaos will immediately stop. As a Christian, I DO encourage you to follow Him. He really is the real deal. He preaches Love and Forgiveness. We are in a place that is NOT practicing forgiveness. many are NOT practicing love, instead it is hate. Hate is from Darkness, Love is from Pure Light. You cannot get to Heaven with hate in your heart. You cannot. Jesus teaches us to Love, forgive, and PRAY for our enemies, because only God can change the hardened heart. “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”
The younger generation is happy with how this temple is coming along, because they have no recollection of Solomon’s temple. But, the older generation who DO remember, cry, because it pales in comparison. Even though they regained their freedom, again, they don’t have what they had before. It is a reminder of their past sins. The next blow to this is the current locals don’t like seeing the Jews return, nor do they like that they are building a new temple. They complain to the current king about it, telling him of how the Jews rebelled in the past against empires, etc. The locals win the stopping of the building, and stopped it for decades.
The new King Darius was prompted by the Jews to look up old records that say king Cyrus encouraged the Jews to build a new temple. He finds them and not only does he allow the building to resume, but allows tax monies to fund the project. This temple lasts 500 years, longer than Solomon’s temple and much longer than King Herod’s temple.