1 Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, so that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, and he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, 2 Cyrus, king of Persia says this, The LORD God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Who is there among you of all his people? His God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (He is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. 4 And any survivor in any place where he stays, let the men of his place help him with silver, with gold, with goods, and with animals besides the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
- King Cyrus knew which God was the true God.
- A principle for missions found here is: those who do not go can support.
- Jeremiah 10:10 the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth will tremble, and the nations will not be able to abide his indignation.
God stirred up the spirits of the people to go build His house
5 Then the heads of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin rose up, and the priests, and the Levites, with all those whose spirit God had stirred, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. 6 And all those that were around them encouraged them with articles of silver, with gold, with goods, with livestock, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered. 7 Also, Cyrus the king brought out the articles of the house of the LORD that Nebuchadnezzar had brought out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; 8 Cyrus, king of Persia, brought out those things by the hand of Mithredath, the treasurer, and recorded them to Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah. 9 And this is the number of them: 30 gold trays, 1,000 silver trays, 29 knives, 10 thirty gold bowls, 410 silver bowls of another kind, and 1,000 other articles. 11 All the articles of gold and of silver were 5,400. Sheshbazzar brought up all these with them from the captivity that were brought up from Babylon to Jerusalem.
- What an astounding honor that God, Maker of the universe, desires to dwell with us.
- 1Corinthians 6:19 What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?
God fulfills His word in His time for His reasons
1 Nowthese are the sons of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had carried away to Babylon, and came again to Jerusalem and Judah, every one to his city; 2 Which came with Zerubbabel: Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mizpar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel: 3 The sons of Parosh, 2,172. 4 The sons of Shephatiah, 372. 5 The sons of Arah, 775. 6 The sons of Pahath-moab, of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,812. 7 The sons of Elam, 1,254. 8 The sons of Zattu, 945. 9 The sons of Zaccai, 760. 10 The sons of Bani, 642. 11 The sons of Bebai, 623. 12 The sons of Azgad, 1,222. 13 The sons of Adonikam, 666. 14 The sons of Bigvai, 2,056. 15 The sons of Adin, 454. 16 The sons of Ater of Hezekiah, 98. 17 The sons of Bezai, 323. 18 The sons of Jorah, 112. 19 The sons of Hashum, 223.
- In Ezra chapter 1 the God of heaven gave all the nations of the world to king Cyrus and charged him to build a house for the God of heaven at Jerusalem.
- This happened exactly 70 years after God had directed that His people be removed from the land He gave them (for longstanding disobedience and idolatry.)
- Some of these are listed according to their city that they were taken from and were returning to.
- Some cities were named after people.
- Some are listed according to families or functions in serving at the temple.
20 The sons of Gibbar, 95. 21 The sons of Bethlehem, 123. 22 The men of Netophah, 56. 23 The men of Anathoth, 128. 24 The sons of Azmaveth, 42. 25 The sons of Kirjath-arim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, 743. 26 The sons of Ramah and Geba, 691. 27 The men of Michmas, 122. 28 The men of Bethel and Ai, 223. 29 The sons of Nebo, 52. 30 The sons of Magbish, 156. 31 The sons of the other Elam, 1,254. 32 The sons of Harim, 320. 33 The sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, 725. 34 The sons of Jericho, 345. 35 The sons of Senaah, 3630. 36 The priests: the sons of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, 973. 37 The sons of Immer, 1,052. 38 The sons of Pashur, 2,247. 39 The sons of Harim, 1,017. 40 The Levites: the sons of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the sons of Hodaviah, 74. 41 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 128. 42 The sons of the gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons of Shobai, 139 in all. 43 The Nethinims: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth, 44 The sons of Keros, the sons of Siaha, the sons of Padon, 45 The sons of Lebanah, the sons of Hagabah, the sons of Akkub, 46 The sons of Hagab, the sons of Shalmai, the sons of Hanan, 47 The sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, the sons of Reaiah, 48 The sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, the sons of Gazzam, 49 The sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, the sons of Besai, 50 The sons of Asnah, the sons of Mehunim, the sons of Nephusim, 51 The sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, 52 The sons of Bazluth, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, 53 The sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Thamah, 54 The sons of Neziah, the sons of Hatipha. 55 The sons of Solomon’s servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Sophereth, the sons of Peruda, 56 The sons of Jaalah, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, 57 The sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth of Zebaim, the sons of Ami. 58 All the Nethinims, and the sons of Solomon’s servants were 392.
- God awakened their spirits to go build His house.
- Ezra 1:5 Then rose up the leaders of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.
59 And these were they that went up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsa, Cherub, Addan, and Immer: but they could not show their father’s house, and their lineage, whether they were of Israel: 60 The sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 652. 61 And of the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Koz, the sons of Barzillai; who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai, the Gileadite, and was called by their name. 62 These searched for their register among those that were recorded by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore they were put from the priesthood as polluted. 63 The Tirshatha/governor said to them, that they could not eat of the most holy things until a priest stood up with Urim and with Thummim.
- The Urim and Thummim was Israel’s system of asking questions of God.
- The stones of the breastplate of the high priest would light up in one place for ‘yes’ in another place for ’no.’ The stones also spelled out words by God's light shining from them in order of spelling.
- Then the people would know directly and absolutely from God the answer to their question (1 Samuel 10:20-22).
- God makes those who do the will of the Father His family.
- These people are all unique masterpieces from the hand of the Almighty God.
- They are people that He gave life and breath.
- They are people that He died to give eternal life. As are you.
- Matthew 7:21 Not every one that says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
- Matthew 12:50 For whoever will do the will of my Father who is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
64 The whole congregation together was 42,360, 65 beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were 7,337: and there were among them 200 singing men and singing women. 66 Their horses were 736; their mules, 245;
67 Their camels, 435; their asses, 6,720. 68 And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD that is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place: 69 They gave after their ability to the treasure of the work 61,000 gold coins, 6,250 pounds of silver, and 100 robes for the priests. 70 So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the gatekeepers, and the Nethinims, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities.
- Notice that they have servants and maids.
- God had prospered them in exile.
- They had been taken captive as slaves and now sent to their homeland with servants.
- He has made us kings and priests to God.
- What people when captured by a mighty army have ever been returned to their homeland?
- Only God could do this.
- Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And has made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
- Genesis 18:14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD?
- Luke 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
1 Now when the seventh month came, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. 2 Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak stood up, and his brothers the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brothers, and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. 3 They set the altar on its bases; for fear was on them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, burnt offerings morning and evening.
- In 538 God’s people arrived at Jerusalem and to build God’s temple.
- The temple ceremonies showed the only way to God.
- The people gathered as one.
- John 14:6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
- John 17:11…Holy Father, keep through Your own name those whom You have given me, that they may be one, as we are.
- John 17:22 And the glory that you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
4 They also kept the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required; 5 And afterward they offered the continual burnt offering, both for the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and from every one that willingly offered a freewill offering to the LORD. 6 From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.
- Worship of God was established as God had prescribed.
- 1Corinthians 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
7 They gave money to the masons and to the carpenters; and food, and drink, and oil, to those of Zidon, and to those of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had from Cyrus king of Persia. 8 Now in the second year after coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, began, with Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, the remnant of their brothers the priests and the Levites, and all those that came out of the captivity to Jerusalem; they appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD.
- It is an astounding honor that the Creator of the universe desires to dwell among us.
- 1Corinthians 6:19 What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?
9 Then Jeshua stood with his sons and his brothers, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, as one, to oversee the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brothers the Levites. 10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, by the ordinance from David king of Israel.
- King David had organized rotations schedules for the priest and Levites to serve at the temple of the LORD.
- For one month out of the year they would do their service and the other 11 months they were at their homes with their families.
God is good; His mercy endures forever
11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks to the LORD; because he is good, for his love endures forever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
- These people had been taken captives out of the land God had given them because of idolatry.
- At God’s appointed time He returned them to their land.
- He was merciful to do this because the people, like us, were rebellious and sinful rather than loving and obedient to Him.
12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes; and many shouted aloud for joy: 13 So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.
- The temple that Solomon built for God was large and luxurious beyond description.
- This temple was modest. The building isn’t what matters but the One who lives in it.
- Ephesians 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
- Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will feast with him, and he with me.
1 Now when the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity built the temple to the LORD God of Israel; 2 Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers and said to them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God as you do; and we sacrifice to him since the days of Esar-haddon, king of Assur, who brought us up here. 3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel said to them, You have nothing to do with us to build a house to our God; but we ourselves together will build to the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.
- We are not to be deceived by enemies who act friendly, who bring gifts and say things that we want to hear.
- Evil wants to enter, ruin, or bring compromise.
- Truth is not always politically correct.
- Politically correct is about not upsetting anyone.
- God’s people were doing God’s will and the enemy was trying to hinder it.
- Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and do not lean unto your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.
- 2Corinthians 6:17 come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
- Ephesians 4:15But speaking the truth in love, grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
4 Then the people of the land discouraged the hands of the people of Judah, and frightened them in building, 5 And hired counselors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus, king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius, king of Persia. 6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote to him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 7 And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, to Artaxerxes, king of Persia; the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue. 8 Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows: 9 Then wrote Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, and the Elamites, 10 And the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnapper brought over and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest that are on this side the river. 11 This is the copy of the letter that they sent to him, to Artaxerxes the king; Your servants, the men on this side the river. 12 Let it be known to the king, that the Jews who came up from you to us to Jerusalem, are building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up its walls, and joined the foundations. 13 Now be it known to the king, that if this city is built, and the walls set up again, then will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so you will damage the revenue of the kings.
- God’s motive is never money.
- Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD’s, and its fullness; the world, and they that dwell in it. 2 For he has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
- Proverbs 10:22 The blessing of the LORD, it makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.
God is to be honored above all
14 Now because we have maintenance from the king’s palace, and it was not fitting for us to see the king’s dishonor, therefore have we sent and informed the king; 15 That search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers: you will find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that they have incited revolt in the past: for which cause this city was destroyed. 16 We notify the king that, if this city is built again, and its walls set up, by this means you will have no possession on this side the river. 17 Then the king sent an answer to Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and to the rest beyond the river, Peace. 18 The letter that you sent to us has been plainly read before me. 19 And I commanded, and search has been made, and it is found that this city in the past has incited revolt against kings, and that rebellion and revolt have been made in it. 20 There have been mighty kings over Jerusalem, who ruled over all countries beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid to them.
- Fear of loss of honor and revenue was the tactic used to stop the building of God’s temple.
- God is the Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
- He loved us enough to send His Son to die for our sins.
- We need to consider His honor above all things.
- Jesus is the mightiest king. He will rule over all forever and ever.
- Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he will reign forever and ever.
21 Now give commandment to cause these men to stop, and that this city not be built until another commandment is given from me. 22 Take heed now that you do not fail in this: why should damage grow to hurt the kings? 23 Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they hurried up to Jerusalem to the Jews, and made them stop by force and power. 24 Then the work of the house of God that is at Jerusalem stopped. It stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius, king of Persia.
- Abraham was delayed by his earthly father, Terah, from going into the promised land. Here God’s people were delayed by their enemies.
- Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
SUMMARY: Ezra 1-4
- The LORD, Maker of heaven and earth, stirred up the people to build His house at Jerusalem
- He fulfills His word in His time for His good reasons
- God is good
- His mercy endures forever
- He alone is to be honored above all