Read: Ezra 1
Ezra was a man of words, and a man of the Word.
As an exile, he worked as a scribe in the Babylonian government, where he had access to legal court documents, as well as the king himself.
As a priest, Ezra later served in the temple in Jerusalem, where he taught God’s Word and raised up a new order of priestly scribes to make meticulous copies of the scrolls.
The book of Ezra is part history and part memoir. In the first part, we meet Zerubbabel who led the first caravan home. In the second part, we meet Ezra who led the second caravan home.
The first verse of the first chapter sets the tone for the entire book.
“In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah, the Lord roused the spirit of King Cyrus to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom and to put it in writing…” (Ezra 1:1)
The first thing Ezra wants everyone to know — with the very first sentence he writes — is that God’s Word can be trusted. Remember Jeremiah’s prophecy?
“For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Jeremiah said it. God did it. And Ezra reminds everyone of it.
Right out of the gate, Ezra puts everyone on notice. This book is about God’s faithfulness to His Word. God is the central character of this story, but along the way, we’ll meet a number of people God used to restore the Jewish community.
In essence, the book of Ezra is a story about going home — about returning to God’s path.
As an English teacher, I can tell you the most common motif in all of literature is the theme of “going home.” Because something inside us knows we were made for something more than what we’re experiencing here and now. Our souls long for something beyond what we can see and touch and hear and know. Apart from God, we’re in a spiritual exile of our own, and our lives are a journey toward our true home.
While our lives today may look very different from those living in Jerusalem almost 500 years before Christ was born, there is so much we can learn from their journey home — their journey from brokenness to wholeness.
In a journal or notebook, write Ezra 1:1.
“In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah, the Lord roused the spirit of King Cyrus to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom and to put it in writing…”
Or write any passage from today’s reading that stands out to you.
Thank you, Lord, for always being faithful to keep your promises. Thank you for not forgetting about your people. Thank you for always seeing, always knowing, and always caring. When the vessels were taken from your temple, you did not forget them. In your timing, you brought them back to Jerusalem. You brought them home. And you restored each vessel to its rightful purpose. In the same way, I pray that you restore me — a living vessel. Help me to fulfill the purpose you have designed for me. Help me to bring glory to your name by being a vessel in your kingdom. In your name I pray, amen.