1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: 2 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem. 4 And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.” 5 Then rose up the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem. 6 And all who were about them aided them with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, with beasts, and with costly wares, besides all that was freely offered. 7 Cyrus the king also brought out the vessels of the house of the Lord that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods.
My Cliff Notes:
That the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia. He made a proclamation and also put it in writing: Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him. Let him go up to Jerusalem and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel. Then rose up everyone whose spirit God had stirred and all who were about them aided them with all that was freely offered. Cyrus the king also brought out the vessels of the house of the Lord that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem.
Interesting things I learned:
God used one pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar, to punish the Jews and another, Cyrus, to return the exiled people to Jerusalem to restore their temple. It’s an odd bit of Good News that the success of Godless men does not affect the Sovereignty of God’s complete authority over all men despite their manipulative intent, despite hostile power grabs and despite distance and time.
God returned His people to the very place His son must be born and to His Temple in the city where Jesus would come in order to accomplish His plans for the salvation of many. Thanks to a small footnoteª I read these words, also from Jeremiah 29:10, “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” It was curiosity that ‘stirred up’ my spirit to see a new connection between Old Testament history and the only verse I could quote from Jeremiah; the very next one after the one Ezra 1 references. It’s just one additional verse but it confirms the centuries old desire from the heart of God to His people that is still true today. You probably know it too. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” That one more verse makes Ezra more than history, it’s Good News for today!