Yesterday I spent hours doing a short inductive study on the Book of Ezra and it was so good I just wanted to take time to share it with you. If you are unfamiliar with inductive study, you can visit Precept.org for more information and even find a class near you.
Although I didn’t do a full inductive study of Ezra, I still learned so much and the following are my personal themes of the 10 chapters:
- God appointed King Cyrus to build Him a house in Jerusalem…; Articles restored
- Numbers of those returning to build the house; Priests are removed
- Altar restored; Sacrifices made; Foundation completed; Loud weeping & praising
- Enemies frustrate building plans; Decree issued to stop building by King Artaxerxes
- Building resumed during reign of King Darius awaiting a search of records
- Cyrus’ Decree is approved again; Building completed; Passover observed
- King Artaxerxes allows Ezra to go to Jerusalem to teach the people the Law of Moses
- All who go w/ Ezra; Ezra sends for Levites; Silver & gold utensils weighed & recorded
- Many people, priests & Levites have married foreign wives against God’s law
- Separation from others & foreign wives; Reconciliation to God; List of offenders
While I read through the Book of Ezra, I marked God, house of God, King Cyrus, King Darius & King Artaxerxes and Ezra in a specific way so that they would stand out to me as I skimmed back through to see what I had learned specifically.
I could immediately see how often God stirred the hearts of specific people and this reminded me of His sovereignty over everything and everyone. First I could see that He stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus and in doing a little further study on King Cyrus, I found the following:
1. Isaiah 44:28-45:13: Cyrus is God’s anointed, taken by the hand to subdue nations before him and open doors before him. God said He would go before him and that He calls Cyrus by name – He does this for the sake of Jacob and Israel. He gives Cyrus a title of honor and says he will build God’s city and will let His exiles go free without any payment or reward!
2. Daniel 6:26-28: I see that King Cyrus and King Darius reign over Babylon.
This is always so interesting to me, how the disobedience of the southern kingdom of Israel sends them into captivity under Babylon beginning in 586BC for the next 70 years. It is King Nebuchadnezzar who takes them into his kingdom of Babylon, but it is King Cyrus who releases God’s children after taking over Babylon with King Darius in 539BC. The prophecies of King Cyrus in Isaiah 44-45 above were given about him approximately 175 years before Cyrus was even born!!!
It’s so cool how God knows him, calls him by name and appoints him to be King and to release God’s people from captivity so they can go back and rebuild God’s house, the city and the wall, just as God said, and God said this even before Cyrus’ parents were born!!!!
I have more that I learned about God from Ezra – but I will have to share it another time. I will add to this post, so check back when you can.
April 12, 2016 – Continued Notes on my inductive study of the Book of Ezra
To continue with my thoughts from yesterday. It’s not only with King Cyrus that we see God speaking of knowing him before he was even born. In my Precept class this morning we met to discuss our first lesson on the Book of Jeremiah and look what God says to this prophet:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
And as I was typing Jeremiah 1:5 above, God reminded me of Psalm 139 written by King David – listen to what he knew of God:
“My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”
Well, these are kings and prophets, of course God has a plan for them and knew them even before they were born. That doesn’t apply to the general population though, just the special ones… Right? But once again I am reminded of another part of Scripture that talks about all those who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, Savior of the world, Redeemer of all who believe…
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
This is so cool! Not only has God also chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, before we were even born, before our parents were even born, He also did it with a plan in mind for each of us.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
Stay tuned – there’s more coming!