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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Ezra 1

Verses 1-11

  1. INTRO
    1. I remember an article in our local paper when pastor Chuck 1st purchased the Hot Springs. He said (loose quote) “Refurbishing & rebuilding this place is really no different then what the church is all about…rebuilding people lives. They’ve been used & abused, worn & torn down, then they come to Jesus & He does a wonderful transformation in them…& it’s blessed to see.”
      1. We’ll see this same parallel w/Zerubbabel rebuilding the temple & Ezra rebuilding the people.
      2. Both require community rather than isolation. Both meet resistance. Both require time & commitment. Both have the Word of God at the center. Both bring Glory & Honor to God.
    2. The Book
    3. Ezra opens with what 2 Chronicles closed with (see 36:22,23).
      1. Ezra is very similar to Chronicles (which lead many scholars to conclude Ezra wrote Chronicles).
    4. Ezra & Nehemiah is 1 book in the Hebrew bible. (They tell 1 story)
    5. Where does this fit in World History? [i.e. during the writing of the book of Ezra] Gautama(Goat’-ima) Buddha the Indian mystic & founder of Buddhism, was in India. Confucius was in China. And Socrates was in Greece.
    6. The Background
    7. Judah had rejected Jeremiah’s warning of judgment...and his prophetic message came true.
      1. ​​​​​​​What was Jeremiah’s warning to Judah? (kicked out of the land for 70 years)
      2. Why did Judah get kicked out of the land? (see 2 Chron.36:21)
        1. To make up for almost a half a millennium of neglected Sabbaths.
        2. 1/7th of 490 years = 70 years
      3. Daniel & Ezekiel were among those who were deported.
      4. But, Jeremiah also promised Restoration! - This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for 70 years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. Jer. 29:10
    8. Lesson: What motel chain promises to...keep the light on for you? What does that mean?
      1. God kept a lamp lit at Jerusalem in order that His Son might be born through the Hebrew nation and come to save the world.
    9. Lesson: What characteristics of God do you see by allowing them to return? God of 2nd chance.
      1. Now matter how we’ve blown it in our past, God gives us an opportunity for a new beginning.
    10. Ezra covers the 1st 2 returns to Israel. Nehemiah covers the 3rd return to Israel.
      1. Return #1 - 49,897 people return [Zerubbabel leads, 538bc] Purpose? rebuild temple.
      2. Return #2 - 1,754 return [Ezra is in, 80 yrs. later] Purpose? to rebuild the people.
      3. Return #3 - Nehemiah leads (14 yrs. later) Purpose? to rebuild the wall.
    11. The Main Characters
    12. Ezra – A godly patriotic Jew. His name means Help.
      1. Read (Ezra 7:6,8,9).
      2. He was a devoted student of the Scriptures. He helped to restore the Law to the nation. He was a man of prayer (8:21-23). He was greatly burdened for the spiritual welfare of his people (9:3,4).
        1. He does not come on the scene till chapter 7.
    13. Nehemiah – An officer in the kings court.
      1. He had no prophetic call or priestly lineage.
        1. He was the original layman. The orig Joe the Plumber.
      2. Nehemiah was promoted from cupbearer to governor.
    14. Zerubbabel – He was a leader under Ezra.
      1. His name means born in Babel (i.e. Babylon).
      2. His Persian name was Sheshbazzar. (shesh-batsar)
      3. His official title was tirshatha (2:63) which means governor.
        1. He served as the political leader of the restored nation.
    15. Joshua – He was the high priest at the time.
    16. Haggai & Zechariah – They were the 2 Prophets at the time. (See Ezra 5:1)
    17. The Book Outline:
    18. The book is divided into 2 Returns: [from Babylon to Promise Land]
      1. Ch.1-6 Led by Zerubbabel to rebuild the Temple. [536bc. then 80 yrs later 2nd]
      2. Ch.7-10 Led by Ezra to rebuild the Spiritual condition of the people.
        1. The Restoration of the Temple & the Reformation of the People.
        2. Between these 2 returns (60 yr gap) Esther’s story is told.
    19. Tonights Outline: [Ch.1] The Proclamation [Ch.2] The People
    20. Tonights Title: Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?
      1. ​​​​​​​What does the Clash
    21. Feel the anguish: Listen in the poetry of Lamentations(this funeral for a city, in a 5 poem dirge), penned in Babylon, where we can hear the longing of the captives for their homeland.
      1. How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave...All the joy is gone from our hearts. Our dances have turned into dirges. The crown of glory has toppled from our head. Woe! Woe! Would that we’d never sinned! Because of all this we’re heartsick; we can’t see through the tears. On Mount Zion, wrecked and ruined, jackals pace and prowl. And yet, God, you’re sovereign still, your throne intact and eternal. So why do you keep forgetting us? Why dump us and leave us like this? Bring us back to you, God - we’re ready to come back. Give us a fresh start. As it is, you’ve cruelly disowned us. You’ve been so very angry with us. Lam. 1:1(NKJV); 5:15–22(Mes)
  2. THE PROCLAMATION (ch.1)
    1. ​​​​​​​The Proclamation (1-4)
    2. PersiaA Divine twist of irony…The Lord raised up a nation (Persia), to overthrow the nation (Babylon), that He allowed to overthrow His nation (Jer) [Daniel 2: Babylon; Medo/Persia; Greece; Rome]
      1. [3 kings of Persia] This decree by Cyrus (ch.1), the decree by Darius (ch.6), & the decree given by Artaxerxes (ch.7) remind us that God remembers us & is working for our good…even in our darkest days.
    3. Cyrus – Why does he do this? (i.e. let God’s people go)
      1. As he takes over the crumbling Babylonian empire, one of his 1st acts of office is to reverse the Babylonian policy of deporting conquered people from their homelands.
      2. Remember this was the Cyrus mentioned in bible prophecy, 170 years earlier. Is.44:28
        1. *Remember when the words & actions of world leaders disturb you, just remember God is still on the throne & has things in control.
      3. Cyrus A true believer or a pagan ruler? “Archeological finds indicate Cyrus showed similar respect to the deities of all conquered people. This seems to have been motivated by national policy rather than faith-motivated conviction.”
    4. The DecisionShould I Stay or Should I Go Now? (5,6)
      1. Where I grabbed my title. The Clash (Eng Punk band 1976-86)
    5. Judah & Benjamin - Let’s us know that though they had to assimilate into a pagan culture they still maintained their tribal structure (including the role of priests & Levites).
    6. Not everybody returned…why not?
      1. How many of you (or your parents) came to America from a different country? Would you move back now?
      2. Let’s all say we’ve been out of our country for 70 years. So in 1945 we all were made to leave, let’s say Syria. How many of us were born after 1945?
        1. How would we look at moving to this new country we’d never lived in nor even visited?
      3. Keep in mind their homeland was burnt & destroyed so it was a wasteland, & the place they were moved to was a place of luxury & beauty.
      4. The trip was going to be difficult (like the covered wagons in the old days here). Life was going to be demanding.
      5. They had settled into a district of their own in Babylon, found employment, & lived generally comfortable lives.
        1. Note: Those that returned were all whose spirits God had moved.
          1. How does He do that today, how does your spirit personally sense His moving/promting?
        2. Note: Those that didn’t return encouraged those that did & helped w/expenses. (Even their Babylonian neighbors helped out)
    7. So why Go back?
      1. It was worth the price to do God’s will even though it was going to cost.
    8. The Articles (7-11)
    9. They couldn’t worship without them. We can’t worship with them
      1. Jn.4 women at well - It’s not where you worship or what you worship with but how you worship. i.e. in spirit & truth.
    10. Are articles/things needed today for your worship? If so what/which ones? (sound system, instruments)
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Ezra 1". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/ezra-1.html. 2017.