The wayyyyyy too brief overview of Ezra
The book of Ezra is one of the shorter books of the Bible. It’s nowhere near as short as the book of 2 John (only 1 chapter!) And it’s certainly in no way close to the massive length of Psalms (150 chapters!!)
But no matter the length, every book of the Bible has priceless, valuable information for God’s people to learn and live by. Ezra’s book especially, since it documents the slow growth of a tiny, sprout of chosen people beginning to bloom into a beautiful flower after years in the rain. Read up on this brief overview:
Ezra can be split into two main concepts of rebuilding:
Rebuilding the Temple
If you recall from 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, the Israelites’ main cities were destroyed and they were scattered throughout the land into captivity by foreign rulers. More significantly, the Holy Temple of God was completely obliterated in Jerusalem, plus many Israelites were forced into slavery by Babylon.
After several years in exile, King Cyrus of Persia has his heart touched by the Lord of Israel. He commands the enslaved Israelites to return to Jerusalem at Judah and rebuild their Holy Temple.
Over 40,000 Israelites return to put in work and praise God for allowing them to be redeemed. Many surrounding enemies try to stop the rebuilding of the temple, but no man is able to foil the plans of the Lord.
Rebuilding the People
As the people rebuild their city and the temple, they realize that they too are in need of ‘rebuilding‘ to reconnect with God. A wise teacher and priest named Ezra travels from Babylon to teach the exiled people.
After the temple is completed, Ezra moves the people’s hearts and urges them to give guilt offerings to ask forgiveness for their wicked ways. The revival of the Israelites and their land becomes slowly, but surely underway.
That’s pretty much it for this book! Feel free to take a look at Overview Bible, for more details on the events, people, and historical documents of Ezra.
Now let’s jump into how to relate this book and its messages to our everyday lives as young adults in the 21st century!
Big Takeaway #1 – God can and will work through anyone believer or not. Open up your mind to everyone.
Ezra 1:1 – “… In order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus King of Persia.”
Jeremiah was a prophet who had a vision from the Lord that the people of Israel would be in exile 70 years in Babylon before being saved. This verse shows the truth in God’s vision for His people as He begins to release them from bondage by touching the heart of King Cyrus. The sudden release from captivity is a miracle, promised by the Lord.
The big takeaway for us young adults from Ezra 1:1
We often always look towards our elders, pastors, and other Christian/Godly icons to help guide us with revelations and advice throughout life.
Yet, what we need to understand is God created everyone and can work through anyone! Believer or not, God can use any person to help guide us to our God-given duties and path.
Don’t put a stone limit on who can help you, based on what someone looks like, believes, or lives by. God works in us all and will work in everyone around you to get you to where you’re supposed to be.
Big Takeaway #2- If You Seek to Do the Will of God, He Will Provide You with Everyone You Need.
Ezra 6:8-9- “Moreover, I make a decree regarding what you shall do for these elders of the Jews for the rebuilding of this house of God. The cost is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue, the tribute of the province from Beyond the River. And whatever is needed—bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require—let that be given to them day by day without fail..”
After countless (failed) attempts from foreign tribes trying to stop the Israelites from rebuilding the temple, a government official named Tattenai of the Trans-Euphrates steps in to shake things up. He sends an official letter to the most recent king of Persia at the time, Darius, to have the Israelites royally declared to stop.
While a smug Tattenai thinks he has the upper hand in ruining everything for God’s people, a royal decree from King Darius awards him with an embarrassing loss.
Not only does Darius allow the Israelites to continue building, he demands riches from their treasury, and all sorts of animals be given to them to pay for all the Israelite expenses and sacrifices at the altar!
The big takeaway for us young adults from Ezra
If you dedicate your hard work to the Lord and glorifying His kingdom, He will supply you with all the materials (money, connections, strong fan base, etc.) you need.
Following God’s call for you with a trusting and faithful heart can open locked doors that would have never been possible to open before. Simply because God holds the skeleton key to all doors of blessings and victory.
God understands His amazing works to be done through us usually require things we can’t always get on our own. That is why, we can take comfort in a guaranteed future victory when we serve God knowing that He can give us all the tools to succeed, no matter the circumstance!
Up Next- Nehemiah
The flower of hope and redemption continues to bloom in the next book as the Israelites rebuild their city. Read along in Nehemiah!