As a church we are reading through the Bible and this week we head into Ezra. That’s right, we are nearly finished with the Historical Books of the Bible!
As always, we like to give a quick overview of the text to offer some context and guidance. Ezra and Nehemiah were originally combined books but were divided by the 3rd Century, so for the sake of brevity, our overview will look at both texts together. Think of it as a two for one blog post.
We finished Chronicles with the Babylonians capturing and burning Jerusalem and taking Israel as captives. And then as God would have it, the Persians conquered the Babylonians leaving Cyrus as King of Persia. In his first year as king he decreed that the Israelites could return home and rebuild the Temple.
And that’s just what they did, though it did take nearly a century from the decree to the end of Nehemiah for it to be completed.
In Ezra and Nehemiah we read how the remnant of Israel returned and took back the land they hadn’t occupied in roughly 70 years; the obstacles they endured; what they built; their return to the Mosaic Law; and more importantly, how they learned to worship God rightly.
An easy way to remember the events are by the four R’s:
- Return from exile
- Rebuild the Temple
- Restore the land
- Recommit to the Lord
There are several themes throughout the two books, but I would like to draw your attention to four of them.
Faithfulness & Mercy
- God is faithful to His promises and merciful to His people
- Israel is faithful in keeping the Mosaic Law and worshiping the God of Israel
- The Lord protects His people
- Israel protects itself from worshiping false gods
- God works providentially, especially through powerful rulers, to fulfill His Covenant
- Worship is at the center of the life of God’s people
Let’s do this!
If you would like more information on this time period and genre, read or re-read our previous blog post on the Historical Books.
We invite you to join us as we read the Historical Books as a church. If you attend service, there will be a reading bookmark for you to pick up at the welcome table. Until then, you are welcome to access the reading plan via this spreadsheet (not as nice looking).
If you want to dive in deeper or have questions, contact me (Tawny@RealChicago.com) and I can offer resources and/or a nerdy conversation.