As I looked through Ezra 2 again to see what else I could learn about God, what I saw was not just the individual people He had named but a variety of gifts and talents they possessed. There were people from all of the families, priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers of the temple, temple servants, descendants of the servants of Solomon, and some unclean who couldn’t prove their family purity. At first glance it looks like a bit of this and that but I don’t think so. Just as God fits us all together in His family today with all of our differences and family backgrounds, He did that then. He has always used our differences for His glory, when we let Him, in our families, our church family, community or our world.
What does this tell me about my awesome God? He can take anyone and use them to His praise, honor and glory. He doesn’t just need the spiritual giants (priests) or those musically gifted (the singers.) He desires to have the ordinary people to do extraordinary things for Him. He accepts and loves the outcasts and those considered unclean by the world around them. He wants to use them too. I love that I have a God that is so very good, so very loving, so very mighty and powerful that He even wants me! That brings tears to my eyes and humbles me beyond belief.
What about you? Do you know how very much He loves you? Do you know He is able to do anything in your life to glorify Him? Don’t think that for this reason or that you are unlovable or have no worth to Him. That is a lie of the enemy and he will continue to whisper that to you or shout it to you until you choose to believe that God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do and you are who He says you are! (From Beth Moore’s Believing God study.)
What did you learn from Ezra 2? I would love to hear about it! Continue to read God’s Word and grow in knowing Him! Love!
At first glance chapter 2 of Ezra doesn’t seem to have a lot about our awesome God. I don’t want you to miss that this whole chapter speaks volumes about Him. This long list of names that mean nothing to us must mean something to Him or they wouldn’t be here.
Verses 1 & 2 tell us this is a list of the people who had been taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon when he attacked Jerusalem. They are now being permitted by King Cyrus of Persia to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple that had been destroyed. The list that starts in verse 3 and ends in verse 67 tells who the people were and it gives the names of each of the men they were descended from, how many people in their family were going and at various places what they took with them. We will be looking more closely at the list but for right now I just want to see what I can learn about God from this glance at it.
Though knowing these names and numbers may seem insignificant, I feel they have great significance. My God is a God who knows us by name and not just our names but who the people in our families are and the details of our life day by day. He knows where we are going, who is going with us and what we are taking along. He isn’t just a God of numbers. He could have made the book of Ezra much shorter just by putting in verses 64-67. It tells us the numbers only but then we would miss who He is! He is a personal God who knows our name. We are not just a number to Him. He isn’t just interested in how many of us there are who love Him. He knows every detail of our lives. We read in Matthew 10:30:
“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
I don’t know about you but this is a great comfort to me. My God is an awesome God who knows me through and through and doesn’t miss anything that is going on in my life or the lives of my loved ones. What did you get from this part of Ezra 2? I would love to hear about it. May God’s blessings be many as you open His Word to grow in knowing Him!
I have been so focused on God’s preparing and provision for them to return and rebuild the temple that I almost missed taking some time to look at what it says about why God did this. Verse 1 “…in order to fulfill the Word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus…” I surely don’t want to miss what is one of the most important things to learn about who God is from this first chapter.
In Jeremiah 29:10-14 God says, “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” Declares the LORD, “and I will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Earlier I had said it had been 128 years after the fall of Jerusalem when Ezra 1 took place. That was from a timeline in my Quest Bible. It gave a first return of exiles to Jerusalem 48 years after the fall and the completion of the temple at 70 years. This second return at 128 years was another rebuilding. There would be a third under Nehemiah. At a later date I would like to study the timeline further from God’s Word and see what it says about each of those returning people and what was accomplished by each. For now, I am continuing in our Ezra study.
What I do learn today about God from this scripture is, His Word will be fulfilled and He uses whatever means and whomever He pleases to fulfill it. I love that I have a God that can be counted on to do what He says He can do. I love that when He scatters them for a while and allows the Babylonians to destroy their temple, His dwelling place with them on the earth, that He promised them He would bring them back and His good plan for their lives would be done. What an awesome God we have that has plans for us that are to prosper us and not harm us, to give us hope and a future. He is a God who listens to us when we call upon Him and pray to Him. He is a God who brings us back from captivity and gathers us from places He has had to banish us to because of sin in our lives. He is a God who always brings us back.
So…I can hear you saying, “Those promises aren’t for us! The Old Testament promises were for the nation of Israel!” Remember the purpose of our study is to grow in knowing God. “All Scripture is God–breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” II Timothy 3:16. I believe all of it is showing us who God is and if He had this plan for their lives, I believe He most assuredly has it for mine! I am so very grateful that our study of Ezra allows us to see that God fulfills His Word!!! We can trust that! We can believe that! We can love Him for it! I would like to hear any thoughts you might have on Ezra 1 before we move on to Ezra 2. God bless! May God reveal Himself to you in amazing ways as you read His word!
I just read a wonderful little book called, “Heaven Is For Real,” by Pastor Todd Burpo. I read it all this afternoon and it touched my heart! I would encourage you to read it. It is the story of Todd’s almost 4 year old son, Colton, who had surgery for a life threatening burst appendix. A few months after his surgery Colton started talking about having gone to heaven and what it was like and the people he met there including Jesus, God the Father, the Holy Spirit and people in his family who had passed away. His recollections of what it was like his parents said he couldn’t have known from any source at his age unless he had been there. His father has added scriptures that back up Colton’s descriptions. It is a heartwarming story of life after death for those who believe in Jesus as Savior.
I am not afraid to die, as I know that Jesus’ death on the cross for me allows me to have eternal life. I loved this little book that even has a picture in it of our Lord Jesus that was done by a young Lithuanian girl who also says she has seen heaven and Colton said it was Jesus when he saw it after saying none of the other pictures they showed him through the years looked like him.
I hope you will get this little book and read the scriptures in it that describe heaven. What a fun way to spend an afternoon focusing on what life will be when we take our last breath on earth and close our eyes and like a blink we will open them in heaven. Colton says it is a beautiful place! Let me know how you liked the book! Blessings and a happy 4th of July to all of you!
Not only had God moved the heart of Cyrus to allow them to return and rebuild, in his proclaimation he said anyone could go and anyone living in a place where any of the Israelite people lived would provide them with silver and gold, goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem. Wow! Talk about providing! Cyrus didn’t just command the exiles to come up with the necessary funds and goods but anyone living where they lived were to help too. I wonder how that went over in these pagan lands they were living in. I can just hear it now. I don’t think they would have easily funded this venture without much grumbling, complaining.
When I read verses 5 – 11 of Ezra 1 I am so amazed at what God can do! When everyone whose heart God had moved, prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem (vs 5), all their neighbors assisted them with what was needed. Not just some, not just many but all of them. They didn’t just give token gifts either. It says they gave articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, with valuable gifts; in addition they gave freewill offerings. Some of these neighbors were Israelites who wouldn’t go on the trip but I would assume some were not. King Cyrus gave them the articles from the temple that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the temple of his own god. There is even an inventory of those items in verses 9 and 10. God had been keeping track of them for many years and He was making sure they were taken back.
What does this tell me about who God is? God is provider! Our God is able to provide what we need from whatever source He chooses. If that doesn’t make me feel secure in His provision, I don’t know what would. In this tough economy God is able to provide for us and can and will use any means He chooses.
I think it also shows that God keeps track of the details of our lives. If He remembered how many gold dishes and silver bowls were taken from the temple and made sure they were taken back, don’t you think He remembers those things we feel are lost to us? What about our broken dreams? What about relationships that need to be restored? What about family members we love so who are lost? As we leave Ezra chapter 1 let’s take a bit of time laying what we feel may have been lost in our lives at His mighty, magnificent, all knowing, all capable feet and ask Him to bring them back to us. Then let us trust our mighty God enough to rest in peace and continue to live our lives for Him as we wait expectantly for Him to answer our requests to His perfect will.
Today as I think about this holiday weekend coming up to celebrate our nation’s independence, I am praying for the courageous men and women who are serving in our armed forces to keep our country free and safe. May God wrap His loving arms around them and bless them with safety, shelter and peace of mind. May He protect them and guide them and provide all they need. Thank you for laying your lives on the line for all of us! May God Bless and keep you. May His face shine upon you. I love you!