Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ezra 1-7

Day 144

Cough, cough, snort, snort, sneeze, sneeze.  That is the sound at our house.  But we are better! It WAS cough, snort, sneeze, cough, cough; cough, snort, sneeze, cough, cough.  You get the picture.  

Tonight we are going to Edmond to a cookout celebration for one of my kindergartner's....Matthew was in my first class of kindergartner's back in 1996!!!! He is also the kid who went running and screaming out of my room my first day ( I started teaching in the middle of the year because the original teacher took off with a guy she met on the internet) and  saying, "I QUIT THIS SCHOOL--I HATE YOU ALL!"   I became fast friends with his mom to love and help Matthew through kindergarten and we've been friends ever since.   So we are going to his high school graduation celebration party tonight!  

Ezra...well, you have to read 7 chapters in the book of Ezra to ever find out who he is.  But here we are finally in a different book.  Chronicles ended with the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem and the carrying away of treasure and captives.  The year is 587BC and Nebuchadnezzar took the people into exile in Babylon.  The Jewish nation is over and gone.  Ezra is a supplement to Chronicles and tells about how the returned exiles came back.  The returned exiles are mainly concerned with the reconstruction of the altar, temple, and city, but also with the religious problems of freeing the community of foreign, religious elements.  

Chapter 1  King Cyrus of Persia was to deport the people they have conquered but now they have even fallen to Babylon.  One of King Cyrus' first acts was to send the exiled people back home and allow them reinstate their national gods.  Among those who are to benefit are the Jews.  

Chapter 2  a list of the census for the first group of exiles returning...

Chapter 3  rebuilding the temple began under Sheshbazzar.  The first  thing to be rebuilt is the altar so that worship and sacrifice may begin again.  They follow the pattern of Moses.  The phrase is almost a refrain in Ezra, "according to the instructions of the law of Moses."  Read that as "the 10 commandments."  Everything must be properly done.

Chapter 4 As with anything good, there is opposition to the rebuilding of the temple.  The work comes to a standstill.  The settlers (adversaries) offer to help and they even want to help and offer sacrifices. But the Jews will have nothing of it and so the settlers stir things up so much that they manage to stop the work for 15 years! And then comes along King Darius. 

Chapters 5-6 Urged on by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, the people again start building.  This time an attempt to get the new king, Darius, to stop it has the opposite effect.  Darius checks the court records, and discovers the scroll on which King Cyrus' decree is written. The Jews have official authorization for their temple, even to the dimensions and materials used.  In 4 years, the temple was completed and they celebrated the Passover.  For a nation and a people that have been through a second exodus, they have reason to celebrate.  They are truly the remnant of Israel, true to their identity.  

Chapter 7   in chapters 7-10 we will focus on Ezra, a priest who can trace his line right back to Aaron, the first high priest.  Ezra is a scholar of God's law.  He will teach it to the new community of God's people so that they will not repeat past mistakes.  Artaxerxes, the king now ruling Persia is favorable towards the Jews and Ezra is given permission to teach the law and appoint magistrates.  

tomorrow:   chapters 8-10.   

1 comment:

  1. From my Bible--Homecoming--Oddly enough, only SOME of God's children have the courage to return home, the ones whose spirits God stirred to rebuild the house of the Lord. We are told they numbered about 42,360 people plus servants and singers...clearly only a portion of a multitude in exile. Called by God, they were willing to risk the danger. The cost of homecoming will be a common theme in Jesus' later parables and teaching. God makes it possible, just as God changed Cyrus's heart. But the Spirit is what moves people to stake eerything on the Lord.