Reading the Bible Together – Ezra

February

– The book we are reading this month is the Book of Ezra which is the 15th book of the Old Testament.

This will be the 51st book of the Bible we will have read, since commencing this initiative over three years ago in October 2015. (We have actually read Matthew and Joshua twice!) . There are a total of 66 books in the Bible, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.

We will review this month’s book at  our Bible Study and Prayer Meeting on Thursday 7th March 2019.

The book of Ezra

Ezra 1:1-3 – 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, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? His God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.

Ezra 9:6-8 – And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. Since the days of our fathers we have been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day. And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.

Summary of the book of Ezra

Hebrew Name – Etzra “Ezra”.
Greek Name – Esdras (Greek form of the Hebrew).
Author – Ezra (According to Tradition).
Date – From 536-456 BC Approximately.
Theme of Ezra – The return from the captivity.
Types and Shadows – In Ezra Jesus is the one who led the captives out.

The contents of the book of Ezra may be summarized as follows:

  • Chapters 1 to 6 – The return of the Jews to the land of Israel under the leadership of Zerubbabel, to the rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.
  • Chapters 7 to 10 – The arrival of Ezra in Jerusalem, Ezra reforms religion and government, (note the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah correspond with this time period).
Outline of the book of Ezra
  1. The return of the exiles to Jerusalem at the decree of Cyrus, 546 BC (Ezra 1-2).
  2. The work of rebuilding the temple begun, brought to a standstill through the efforts of heathen neighbors, and finally completed at the urging of Haggai and Zechariah (Ezra 3-6).
  3. Ezra’s return to Jerusalem for the purpose of restoring the temple service (Ezra 7-8).
  4. The problem of mixed marriages, which threatened to plunge the Jews into the same course of idolatry which had brought about their original downfall (Ezra 9-10).

The Hebrew traditions treated the books of Ezra and Nehemiah is one book, although they were probably separated in the Bible. The book of Ezra bears the name of an individual who was a descendent of the priest Hilkiah who had helped initiate reforms in the time of Josiah (2 Kings 22:8). Ezra returned from the Babylonian captivity in 457 BC which was 80 years after the first group of Jews had returned to Israel under the leadership of Zerubbabel (13 years before Nehemiah). Ezra was both a priest and a scribe and he had a single purpose, to purify the worship of the Lord among the Hebrews based on the law of Moses. The Jews have regarded Ezra as the second greatest hero in the history of Israel, after Moses. The most important observation about the book of Ezra is to see how God fulfills his Word, and the prophets spoke continually about the restoration of the people of Israel to the land of their inheritance, after the captivity. God did miracles in the hearts of foreign monarchs like Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes. He fulfilled his purposes through great leaders like Joshua, Zerubbabel, Haggai, Zechariah, Ezra, and Nehemiah to bring about the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem, and the Temple of Solomon, and the re-establishment of the law of Moses. The book of Ezra along with Nehemiah provide for us all the history among the Jews between 536 BC and 430 BC. The accomplishments of Ezra focus on the period from 536 two 456 BC, and Nehemiah begins his mission in 445 BC with a detailed description of 12 years of events.

More information on the above can be found HERE

SHORT ILLUSTRATED SUMMARY OF EZRA

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