2Chronicles 35:16 – Ezra 10:44
Day 34 of this 90 day journey brings us to a turning point for God’s people. King Josiah dies and after a series of events & kings, God’s prophesy comes true. God’s people became more unfaithful and followed the practices of the neighboring nations and they defiled the temple of the Lord. God then gave them over to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon who took all of the various articles of the Temple of God, the treasures and all the valuable things of the kings palace. They burned the temple and broke down the walls of Jerusalem. Everything of value was destroyed. Nebuchadnezzar took those who were not killed into exile as captives and they became servants to him and the future kings. Our reading picks up in the book of Ezra where we find the Israelites being released from their captivity after 70 years as predicted by God. The LORD moved the heart of Cyrus, king of Persia, to release God’s people and allow them to go back to their land and rebuild the Temple. A list of the Israelites who were returning from captivity are listed and then we read that the alter and the Temple of the Lord were being rebuilt. Darius, a new king in Persia questioned why Israel was rebuilding the Temple but finds the original decree by Cyrus and allows them to complete the Temple. Now, Ezra the Chief Priest arrives in Jerusalem and brings a letter from King Artaxerxes. All of the articles of the Temple are being returned as well as all kinds of gold and silver. He also decrees that anyone who wants to, may leave Persia and return to their land. A list of all those who were exiled and return is given. So, those who God put in their heart to return to Jerusalem, returned to their homes. When Ezra returned, he learned that there were men of Israel that came back to Israel and inter-married with foreign women. He calls a mandatory meeting of all Israelite men and reminds them of God’s law. The reading concludes with the men confessing their sin to the Lord, putting away their foreign wives and repenting.
Scripture – Ezra 7:10
110 For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.
What was left of the nation of Israel had been carried away to Babylon and the people became servants. For 70 years, the people of Israel were separated from their land, way of life and Temple worship practices. During this time, Ezra the priest was diligent in reading and studying and observing God’s law. He also taught the law and it’s decrees to the people. While many people of Israel simply gave up on their faith or life as they knew it, Ezra was faithful in reading, understanding and applying God’s word into his daily life.
Everyone has highs and lows in life. Difficult circumstances come to us and draw us away from God. It is in times like these that we should draw closer to our Lord and lean on His word. We should devote ourselves to prayer and know that the challenges we are facing will help us in our faith and draw us closer to our Heavenly Father. During very difficult times, Ezra continued to practice and grow in his faith. He even shared it with others through the teaching of God’s Word. We can be prepared for difficult times if we draw close to God and devote ourselves to the reading and study of His Word.
Lord, when times get tough, help me to lean on you and not turn away from your love. Your scripture is a blessing that allows me to cling to you and leads me through the challenges in my life. I praise your name that you never leave me during these times.