Ezra 2-3

Ezra 2‑3  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 6
EZR 2-3Sophy. How did the king of Persia get the treasures of the Lord's house which were carried to Babylon?
M. God had allowed the king of the Medes and Persians to conquer Babylon. This was God's judgment on that wicked nation. God had allowed them to punish the children of Israel for their wickedness, and they served the king of Babylon for seventy years. But when the seventy years were accomplished God determined to punish the king and the nation of Babylon, because they had no mercy on His people. Babylon had become great and powerful, and was called the lady of kingdoms; they thought themselves so great and rich that they never could be brought low. The nation had said: I shall be a lady forever! But God had brought them low in a moment. Now God was going to call His people back from Babylon as if to try once more if they would be faithful; and they began well.
S. How did they begin?
M. By separating themselves from all who were not Israel. Every man who came up to the work, had to show his family and his tribe; and each one was numbered accordingly-the priests, the Levites, the singers and the porters. And those who were not able to show their genealogy were put away from the priesthood.
S. Why was that?
M. Because they were polluted. If they could not show that they were really of Israel, it was clear that they had got mixed up with the Babylonians, and had not cared enough about being Israelites to preserve the record of their family. So, if they ever had any connection with Israel they lost it by their own neglect; just like Esau, who despised his birthright and sold it for some food. A day might come when God would have a high priest again who would wear the Urim and Thummim, and he would be able to tell; but here in their weakness and difficulty they could not be too particular to shut out everything that would hinder their blessing.
S. Why did they think they must be so separate?
M. Because they had suffered so terribly for not being so. All the sorrows of God's people from first to last, were caused by their receiving amongst them or connecting themselves with those who served other gods than Jehovah. We read in the book of Chronicles how the children of Judah suffered by being mixed up even with the other tribes after Jeroboam made calves of 'gold which made Israel to sin.
God said: "Be ye holy because I am holy." And in a place where evil is, if a man desires to be holy he must be separate from the evil, as God is.
Now the children: of Israel were called out of Babylon, only a little remnant of that mighty nation which God had once led out of Egypt, and they were going to make a new start, so their first act was to show that they were all true Israelites, of the family of God, going up to join in the work of the house of the Lord. They offered freely, and gave according to their ability. And all Israel dwelt in their cities. And when the seventh month was come, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem.
S. Why did they come in the seventh month?
M. The first day of the seventh month was the time when the priests were to blow with the silver trumpets to call God's people together. I think it was also a remembrance of the year of jubilee; for in that year on the tenth day of the seventh month, Moses had said they were to make the trumpets sound throughout the whole land, to proclaim their liberty (that they were no longer captives in Babylon); and that every man was to return to his own land. The first thing they did was to set up an altar, and to offer burnt offerings as Moses had written.
S. Did they read God's word?
M. Yes. It has marked the faithful remnant in every time, that they always valued the written word of God. These poor people had nothing else for their guidance or comfort. They were in fear because of the people of the countries around. They had no fine army now to defend them, no king to lead them to battle, no fenced cities to protect them from their enemies; and their enemies were all there round about them as strong, and as much against them as ever. But they had their altar, and God was in their midst. They had faith in Jehovah, and they were trying to hold fast His word, and to confess His name, and the great things He had done for them. This was expressed in their feast of tabernacles, when they owned how God had led them out of Egypt, and made them dwell in tents, until He brought them to a good land and large, a land that flowed with milk and honey. Now they were brought back to it again, and as soon as they had laid the foundation of the house of the Lord, the priests blew with their trumpets and the sons of Asaph came with their cymbals, to praise the Lord, as David had ordained. They sang together, and, gave thanks to the Lord, saying, in the words of David: Because He is good, for His mercy endureth forever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout; but some of the old men wept!
S. Why did the old men weep?
M. Because they had seen the house that Solomon built, and they remembered the time of Israel's greatness. They wept to think of the difference know. The thought of their sins was humbling and sorrowful, and they did right to weep. I think too they were moved to tears by the sense of the goodness and grace of God, that had so far restored them in spite of all their sins and failures, as to have the foundation stone thus relaid. God meant His people to rejoice that He was among them again, and it was right that the noise of their shouting should be heard by those who were far away.
Perhaps it reached the ears of their enemies, for they at once tried to hinder their work.