Happy Monday in the Word together, sweet friends! YES! I am so excited we are taking this journey together!
Below, you will find a link that says, “Journey Your Way through the Word” which I’m providing every day so you can do just that. It’s FREE and all you have to do is click on the link and download it and print it. If you want to get super snazzy, you can punch holes in the side and make a notebook out of it!
BUT…I want to encourage you to journal your way through the Word whether you use my freebie or not.
You can just use your own journal or just a spiral notebook. Whatever works for you. But I promise you, you will treasure reading through how God has spoken to you in His Word as you reflect on your own journey through the Word.
HERE’S the LINK: Journal Your Way through the Word
SOOOOO…. Here we go with EZRA!
Are you ready?
A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON EZRA:
Ezra was a scribe and a priest during the 5th century B.C. Although we often read through the Bible and think it is in chronological order, but it’s not. It is interesting to note that Ezra lived during the same time as or within a hundred years or so of many other biblical writers.
Some of their lives intersected. Others lived just years before or after the bold, brave scribe.
Ezra lived around the same time as Zechariah, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Ezekiel, Malachi, and not long after Daniel, Obadiah, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah. Here is a link to a chart that can help you see how their lives may have intertwined a bit better.
Theologians believe that Ezra penned the book of his namesake, Ezra, as well as Nehemiah and 1st and 2nd Chronicles. In fact, Ezra and Nehemiah were one book referred to as Esdras A & B (or some referred to it as Esdras 1 & 2). Christian divided them in the 3rd or 4th century and Jewish manuscripts followed suit around the 15th century.
Ezra wrote these books after the Jewish people were exiled from from their own land by the Assyrians and Babylonians and then returned. Ezra was the leader of the second return from Persia (ca. 458 B.C.), so the completed book of Ezra was written sometime within the next several decades (ca. 457–444 B.C.).
Each day, I’ll be sharing a bit of what the Lord has shown me in His Word and/or how He has spoken to me. Some of what the Lord shows me I will be keeping to myself. Sometimes the Lord speaks a RHEMA to us and it is just for us. We are the only ones who will understand it and the only ones He wants to ‘get’ it.
Those sweet Rhemas will be mine…all mine. 😉
So, here are some things the Lord showed me in EZRA 1 & 2…
2 Chronicles ends with the same words that Ezra begins with. (2 Chronicles 36:22-23 are the same as Ezra 1:1-3) but in verse 3 of Ezra, we find a continuation of 2 Chronicles. Kind of a dot. dot. dot… A sort of, “And here’s the REST OF THE STORY!” continuation.
I love how the Lord doesn’t keep us hanging. Not in Ezra, and not in life. We may not always understand, but He puts a dot. dot. dot. on every story of our lives.
In Ezra 1:1-2, we see the Lord working in the hearts of men (‘the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus the king of Persia’) to accomplish His will and His Word. He stirs the hearts of those He chooses to fulfill His plan.
And in Ezra 1:5, it says, ‘whose spirits God had moved.’
God’s people were set free from captivity to worship Him. Just like in Exodus when God led Moses to deliver His people so they could make their way to the the wilderness and worship the Living God.
Sometimes we feel like God is not in control because life is hard and things seem so out of control. But God is Sovereign and moves in the hearts, lives and circumstances of men to accomplish His will. We may not always understand why we have to wait so long, or why certain things happen or don’t happen…but God is good, even when our circumstances are hard.
Cyrus fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah 29:10 as Yahweh’s shepherd and anointed because he not only cared for God’s people, but he liberated them from Babylonian captivity.
God called for the children of Israel to make their way back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple where God was worshipped and He dwelled among His people. The temple. Where a flawless God made His presence known among a flawed and needy people.
In the Old Testament, God made His dwelling place in temples made of stone. Today, He makes His dwelling place in the hearts of all who receive Him through faith in Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 6:19)
Cyrus restored that which had been stolen from the temple by Nebuchadnezzar (Ezra 1:7-11).
Sometimes, we need to regain what has been stolen from us. Ground God has given us. Promises we have allowed to be taken because of our unbelief.
Other times, we need to give back to God what we have taken. Maybe we aren’t trusting Him with our families, our homes, our tithes, our ministries, our jobs, or our whatever. It may be time to give back to God, that which we have taken back from Him. Maybe we dedicated out kids to the Lord when they were young, but we keep taking them back. Maybe it’s time to lay them at the altar again and give them back to the Lord.
In Ezra 2, there was a list of those who had come back from captivity. Each name was a father, a mother, a son or a daughter. Each one counted to God because everyone counts to God.
The genealogies and lists of people throughout Scripture tend to be the things we skim over. But I’m SO glad God doesn’t skim over us and miss our names. He doesn’t miss our names or the names of our kids. Sometimes, we may feel like we don’t matter…like God doesn’t see us…like God doesn’t see our kids or our family members. But God sees…He cares…and He knows each one by name. And HE ALONE can bring them back from captivity. HE ALONE can bring each of us back to the place where we “come to the house of the Lord and offer freely.”
In Ezra 2:69 it says everyone gave to the Temple Building Fund according to their own ability. They had a heart to build and they had a heart to give.
I love that God doesn’t give us all the same dollar amount to give, but calls us to give according to our own ability. I pray I will always be a willing giver and He increases my ability to give more for His glory.
As I read through Ezra 1 & 2, I was so encouraged by the fact that not only does God move in the hearts of people to accomplish His will, but to Him…everyone counts. You count, sweet friend. He sees you and He knows you by name. He sees those kids you pray for like crazy. He sees your husband who is struggling to make ends meet. He sees you and you count. Everyone counts to Him. Even when no one else sees us or cares…we are never invisible to God.
Don’t you love knowing that!
YOUR TURN: How did Ezra 1 & 2 speak to you?
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