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The book of Ezra, from the commencement of it to the conclusion, contains a very interesting record in the history of the church. It opens with the proclamation of Cyrus, king of Persia, to permit the Jews to return from their captivity in Babylon to Jerusalem. Here is an account of the return of certain of the people. The rebuilding of the temple; and the vessels of the temple, carried away in the captivity, brought back and restored.
This first year of Cyrus was immediately upon the finishing the 70th year of Israel's captivity. This is a great point in this history to attend to, inasmuch as it becomes a confirmation of the word of God concerning the desolation of Jerusalem. Jeremiah 25:11-12 . Now, whoever is desirous to make the calculation will find, that it corresponds; perhaps to a day, as the case of Egypt, in the deliverance of Israel from thence, did before. Exodus 12:40-42 . Calculating by the reigns of the several kings of Judah, and comparing with the reigns of the kings of Babylon from the first of Judah's captivity, it will be found completing the seventy years exactly. Jeremiah 52:0 with 2 Kings 25:27-30 . The captivity of the people began in the first year it should seem, of Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned 45 years. To him succeeded his son Evilmerodach, who reigned twenty-three years. And after him his son Belshazzar, whose reign was about two years. So that those periods added together make seventy years. But what is worthy also of equal regard is, that the end of Israel's captivity was the end of the Babylonish empire. The Lord had taken Babylon as a rod to correct his people; but when that purpose was accomplished, the rod is cast away. No doubt Babylon mightily oppressed poor Israel, as we read in that pathetic mournful song of the church on the occasion, Psalms 137:0 . And Daniel intimates as much when standing up before Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 4:27 . But Reader! perhaps the most interesting account of any to be attended to in this wonderful subject, was concerning the instrument by whom the Lord wrought the deliverance of his people, I mean Cyrus, concerning whom the prophet Isaiah had been commissioned two hundred years before Cyrus was born, to tell the church both of his name and the deliverance he should accomplish. Before you go further in the history, I beg you to pause here, and to read the forty-fifth chapter of Isaiah's prophecy, and diligently attend to what the prophet, or rather the Holy Ghost by the prophet, tells the church. The two leaved gates, which the Lord promised to open him, were probably those mighty gates under the walls of Babylon which had no entrance but through the great river. And the loins of kings the Lord promised to loose. Now was this astonishing prediction accomplished when Belshazzar trembled in the very night when the impious monarch was slain and Babylon taken? Daniel 5:30; Daniel 5:30 . And may we not add, that as the Lord condescended to call Cyrus his anointed on this grand concern, was he not a type of our adorable anointed Jesus, whom the Father from everlasting anointed to deliver the prisoners out of prison, and them that sat in darkness out of the prison house? Isaiah 42:6-7 . Reader! never lose sight of this, I beg of you. For what a sweet testimony is here afforded of Jesus, that everything, and all events, had a reference to him. And is not this indeed the first and principal sense and meaning of what Jehovah said to Cyrus on this occasion before he was born, (calling, as the apostle saith, things that are not as though they were) when the Lord said, For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect. Isaiah 45:4 . Is not Jacob here named for Jesus? And was not Jacob's seed blessed in and for Jesus's sake? Yes! Jesus is the Holy One, the elect, the beloved of the Father. And in his name, and for his sake, both Israel and his seed are blessed.
I think it is probable that some of the Lord's hidden ones might have painted out to Cyrus what the Lord's prophet Isaiah had predicted concerning him. But that Cyrus knew nothing of the Lord in a way of grace, though the Lord stirred up his mind to those acts of clemency, seems decided, Isaiah 45:4-5 . And it is possible from the awful end of Belshazzar, who died in the very act of profaning the holy vessels of the temple, that Cyrus sent away those sacred things from a dread and fear.
It should seem that many of the people remained in Babylon reconciled to their captivity, and had mingled with the Chaldees. An awful representation of characters, in all ages, whose condemnation is that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. John 3:19 . And those precious souls whose spirits God had raised up to return to Jerusalem, what a sweet representation are they of all that through the blessed recoveries of grace emerge out of the captivity of sin and Satan, and seek Jesus, of whom Jerusalem, the holy city, was a type. Reader! see in this the blessed lesson the Holy Ghost teacheth. Jerusalem was in ruins at this time; the temple destroyed, the walls thrown down. But amidst all this discouragement the people willingly, and with joy, returned. And doth not the poor sinner, when once his eyes are opened, his prison-doors thrown open, and the Lord's grace leading him by the hand, ask the way to Zion with his face thitherward, to join himself to the Lord in a covenant that cannot be forgotten? Jeremiah 50:5 .
Was not Cyrus a type, in this instance, of the gentile church, concerning whom it was said that they should bring of their abundance to beautify the place of God's sanctuary. Isaiah 60:3-14 . And it is remarkable, as if the Lord meant from the earliest days of the church to point out his holy will and pleasure, in making the Jew and Gentile church at length one in Jesus, that in the first wilderness church after the people departed out of Egypt, the church was supplied from the spoils of the Egyptians, Exodus 12:35-36 . But I wish the reader to make another observation which those verses suggest, namely, amidst all the impiety and profaneness of the kings of Babylon, in desecrating the holy vessels of the temple, how did the Lord watch over both the people and the temple treasures. Yes! the Lord's eye was upon them, and according to his own precious word, their memorial was always before him: In my wroth I smote thee, saith the Lord; but in my favor have I had mercy upon thee. Isaiah 40:10 . How sweet a lesson this to the long and painful exercises of his afflicted ones now. He knows all they feel; hears every groan, and is speaking to them in the same gracious words; I the Lord do keep it. I will water it every moment; lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day. Isaiah 27:2-3 .
HERE let our contemplations be called forth in the account given of Cyrus, and behold in him a lively type of the truly anointed of the Lord, full of grace and truth, the Lord Jesus Christ. Cyrus was foretold two hundred years before he came, that he should deliver the Lord's people froth Babylon, But Jesus was held forth as a deliverer of the Lord's people from sin and death, from everlasting. The one ministered to a temporal salvation; the other to an eternal. The one proved a blessing for a time; the other forever. The one saved from this world's sorrow; the other from all the evils of this life and that which is to come. Hail! all-glorious, almighty Deliverer! the Lord of hosts is thy name.
But, my soul, did Cyrus proclaim deliverance to captives? Did the Persian king cause it to be published that everyone with whom God was might go out free, and return to Jerusalem from their captivity? And did the people willingly offer themselves, in whose hearts the Spirit of Jehovah was, to avail themselves of these privileges? And shall Jesus, whom the Father hath anointed to preach the gospel to the poor, and to give liberty to the captives, issue forth his proclamation and none regard it? Oh! Lord God! thou who didst graciously put thy Spirit into the minds of the chief of the fathers; put forth thy Spirit now. Lord incline the hearts of sinners, that they may see and know the year of jubilee is come. Let that precious promise be fulfilled in which thou hast said, In the day that the great trumpet is blown, they shall come that are ready to perish. Do thou, precious Lord Jesus! do thou work in the minds of sinners both to will and to do of thy good pleasure. And Lord in mercy grant, that none of thine may remain in the Babylon of this world, nor be fond of the chains which sin and Satan hath cast around them. Let them hear thy voice thou Son of God. for thou hast said, all that h ear shall live, By the blood of thy covenant bring forth the prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. Take to thyself thy great name, and reign and rule the Almighty, universal Lord, of all. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Ezra 1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19