Sunday, January 3, 2010

Book Review: Ezra

Ezra from the Holy Scriptures was written by possibly Ezra, but not really known who the exact author was. It seems to be that the person who wrote Ezra also wrote Nehemiah. This book of the Bible is inspired by God and written by holy men of old. It was written during the time period of 430-400 B.C. Unrest was going on and the Jews had been exported from their land due to disobedience. Now, the Jews who had been exiled had returned to their land and God is showing us that He has a remnant (a people chosen for His name)and that He is continuing His sovereign work of redemption and reestablishing true worship among His people. This book shows us God's compassion for His chosen people and his judgement for those who are disobedient. The book starts out with King Cyrus, king of Persia, making a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and putting it into writing that the temple of the Lord is to be rebuilt and all who are able are to help. We see the foundation laid, the exiles return, the alter rebuilt (and offerings made to the Lord and feast days kept. Next we see adversaries come and scare away the people. This is during the second year and the rebuilding stops. It seems at this point like all hope is lost! Later, King Artaxerxes, takes the throne in Persia. A letter is written to him concerning this matter and he orders the rebuilding of the temple to stop. It does not start again until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia. He orders that the temple rebuilding start and not be hindered. The temple is rebuilt and the passover is celebrated. Money is given and offerings are made before the Lord as Ezra teaches the people and appoints counselors and leaders in certain places. All is going well until, someone comes to Ezra and tells him that the priests and Levites have fallen into sin and taken foreign wives. He grieves bitterly, fasts, and prays to the Lord concerning this matter. It is then decided that all people should gather together while Ezra addresses the issue. The people confess their sins and agree to divorce the women. The book ends on a rather sad note listing all those who had married foreign women and some had children. We ask the question, "Now where is God? Is He working?" The answer is,"Yes!!!" He must first bring about true repentance and there still remains a people devoted to His name.

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