Have you ever moved away from home or a place that you lived and then return to find that it’s different? The look, environment, culture, new buildings replacing old buildings, and the people are different. It’s not the same. It doesn’t feel like home or that place that you once knew. The events in Ezra are a lot like this.
The book is a bit weird where the person the book is named after—Ezra—isn’t mentioned until chapter seven. The first six chapters explain life before Ezra was born. There’s one more tidbit—the books Ezra and Nehemiah were actually one book until 300 years after the church started at Pentecost. More on Nehemiah in a couple weeks…
Before Ezra is mentioned, the first six chapters are like a history book. The Jewish community began to return home from a seventy-year exile in Persia (Jeremiah 25:11). This was a hard adjustment for this community to return to a place that looked different from when they left. Then there were others who were born and raised in Persian culture and customs, which was a struggle to now make Jerusalem their home. This group of exiles returned to Jerusalem, which already had a population of Jews who were not taken into exile, along with other ethnic groups who settled there during the exile. The adjustment was difficult for those coming back home.
No matter how difficult this was for the exiles returning…it was God’s plan for them. This was their God-given land, even if they were born in Persian exile. Reading through Ezra, the theme is for Israel to trust God through worship and keeping the Law. From the rebuilding of the city and the temple, all of the return and rebuilding was God keeping good on His promises that He would bring them back home from exile. It was also setup for the Messiah to come to rescue His people.
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