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Ezra 1

Talks for Growing Christians

Events Leading Up to the Jews' Return from Captivity in Babylon

Ezra 1

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Lesson Number 1

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. God moves the hearts of kings to fulfill His good word. Ezra 1:1
  2. God moves the hearts of His people to accomplish His good will. Ezra 1:5

Practical Application

  1. Have you returned God’s stolen property?
  2. Let God do more than just open the door.

Questions

  1. God allowed the kingdom of Judah to be conquered. By whom was the kingdom conquered?Why did God allow the kingdom to be conquered?
  2. What was the date of the destruction of Solomon’s temple?
  3. Where were the Jewish people held in captivity and for how long?
  4. Who was Cyrus and what did he do for God’s people, the Jews?
  5. How many Jews returned to Jerusalem at that time? Under whose leadership did they return?
  6. How many Jews returned to Jerusalem at that time? Under whose leadership did they return?
  7. Why was the project delayed?
  8. Name the prophets who motivated the people to resume the rebuilding of the house of the Lord.

Answers

  1. God allowed the kingdom to be conquered by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian armies because of Judah’s sins of idolatry and immorality.
  2. 586 B.C.
  3. In Babylon for seventy years.
  4. Cyrus was king of Persia. He overthrew Babylon in 539 B.C. King Cyrus issued a royal decree which allowed and encouraged the captive Jews to return to their homeland.
  5. About 50,000 Jews returned to their homeland under the leadership of Zerubbabel.
  6. To rebuild the temple of the Lord that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.
  7. At first the project went well and the foundation of the new temple was laid. But then, because of discouragement and apathy and enemy threats, the work was halted for 15-16 years.
  8. Haggai and Zechariah.

Discuss/Consider

  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, so that he made a proclamation through all his kingdom….” (Ezra 1:1) The Persian Empire did not follow the one true God, but God moved the heart of this man, Cyrus the king, to fulfill the word of the Lord as spoken by Jeremiah. Read Jeremiah 29:10. More than 200 years before this time, the prophet Isaiah had predicted the rise of Cyrus by name. See Isaiah 44:28. Can God do the same for us today? Are you facing a major difficulty or decision in your personal life right now, where someone’s heart has to be moved? Trust God! God has promised in His word that He wants to bless us, and He can move even the heart of a king to fulfill His good word.
  2. “…all whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the house of the Lord…” (Ezra 1:5). When God stirs the hearts of His people, it’s amazing what can be accomplished. It was no small project to organize 50,000 people to travel about 900 miles on foot. And beyond that, even those who did not return to Jerusalem were moved and motivated to give generously to the project.God moved the heart of a king to fulfill His good word. God moved the hearts of His people to accomplish His good will. God can do the same today. Recall some projects that have been blessed by God when He moved in the hearts of His people – first, as to need, then by motivation of heart to see the vision become a reality.

Challenge

  1. The articles mentioned in Ezra 1:7-11 were temple treasures that had been stolen from the house of the Lord by the Babylonians. Now they were being returned to Jerusalem for the rebuilt temple. What is the spiritual lesson here? If you are a believer, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6:19). Before you became a Christian you used your time and talent and money for your own interests. But now, as a believer, you must ask, “How much of your time have you returned? And your talent? And your ability? And your money? All of these things have been given to you. Return them to God to glorify Him.
  2. Let God do more than just open the door. “…let them help with money and goods, besides the freewill offerings…” (Ezra 1:4) God not only opened the door for the Jews to return to Jerusalem, but He also provided for their return. God not only moved the heart of the king, but He moved the hearts of the Persian people as well. Think of the implications for that to happen today! When God opens doors, he provides the means to go through those open doors. Wait on the Lord. Let God do more than just open the door.

Key Verses

  • “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, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom….” Ezra 1:1
  • “Whoever is left, let them help him…besides the freewill offerings for the house of God…” Ezra 1:4

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