Talks for Growing Christians
The Jewish Captives in Babylon Who Returned to Jerusalem
Lesson Number 2
- God keeps records of the activities of His people. Ezra 2:1-61
- God keeps records of the attitudes of His people. Ezra 2:68-70
- Let’s sing unto the Lord.
- List three categories of people who had been carried away to Babylon and then returned to Jerusalem and Judah.
- Why did Cyrus issue his edict in 538 B.C. allowing Jewish people to return to their homeland?
- How many Jewish captives returned to Jerusalem under the edict of Cyrus? How do we know this?
- Which other book of Scripture is similar to Ezra 2 concerning this first return of the Jews to their land?
- Read Ezra 2:63. What is the Urim and Thummim?
- The leaders, the families, the priests, the Levites, the temple servants, the sons of Solomon’s servants.
- Cyrus was a polytheist, and he wanted to appease the gods of all the nations. But we know that God was working behind the scenes in all of this to accomplish His good purposes for Israel. “The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus…” (Ezra 1:1)
- About 50,000. Add the numbers in Ezra 2:64-65.
- The historical record in Nehemiah 10-12 is similar to Ezra 2.
- We don’t know exactly, but Exodus 28:30 says that the Urim and Thummim were associated with the breastplate of the high priest and were used for making decisions. They may have been precious stones, used like lots to determine God’s will in some situations.
- Why did God include this long list of names? It was not only to show the historical importance of this event, but to show us that He keeps track of the activities of His people – then and today. God knew all about them and what they were doing, and the same is true today. God keeps records. He knows all about you. This can be both a great comfort to us, and a warning to us to live our lives for Him.
- “They came to the house of the Lord…” (Ezra 2:68) This verse does not say that the people returned to the ruins of the temple, but rather to the house of the Lord. Even though the former temple was in ruins, it was still the house of the Lord in the mind of God and in the minds of the people. What a great attitude! How do you look at things? Do you look at them as already being accomplished for God?
“…they freely offered for the house of God…” (Ezra 2:68-69) The people gave willingly according to their ability. Your true heart attitude is reflected by the amount you have left after giving to the Lord, or by the amount you are using for other things. Ponder this. See 2 Corinthians 9:6-8.
- The singers are given special mention. See Ezra 2:65, 70. These were the men and women designated to lead and promote that aspect of worship to the Lord. Singing was important then in worship and it is important now in worship. Do you thank the leaders who give great amounts of their time and ability in preparing music for worship? See Colossians 3:16.
- “These are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away to Babylon, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his own city.” Ezra 2:1
- “…they had two hundred men and women singers.” Ezra 2:65
- “…when they came to the house of the Lord, they offered freely according to their ability…” Ezra 2:68-69