Read for This Week’s Study: Jer. 25:11-12; Dan. 9:1-2; Ezra 4:1-7; Isa. 55:8-9; Ezra 7:1-28.
Memory Text: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah”. (Ezra 1:2, NKJV).
In the writings of Jeremiah, God had promised that His people would return home after 70 years of Babylonian exile. King Cyrus was God’s instrument to allow this return to happen. Anointed by God (Isa. 45:1), Cyrus issued a decree about 538 B.C., freeing up God’s people to return to their country and to rebuild the temple.
It was God (not Cyrus) who spoke regarding Jerusalem: “ ‘Let it be rebuilt’, and of the temple, ‘Let its foundations be laid’ ” (Isa. 44:28, NIV). God was the guarantor that Jerusalem would be rebuilt, and He stirred the heart of Cyrus to grant permission to build the temple.
It is always encouraging, too, to see God’s people respond positively to the Lord’s actions: “Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites — everyone whose heart God had moved — prepared to go up and build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:5, NIV).
Here we see an example of people responding positively to God’s mighty and gracious acts. Our best performance comes from a realization of who God is and what He has done, and from knowing how He lovingly intervenes on behalf of His people.