By now, you probably know the drill. If you are new, this series, as you may have deciphered, is an outline of the entire Bible, book by good ol’ book.
If you want to truly know your King, you can follow this link to read all of the current portions to date!
Previously in 2 Chronicles… After the death of David, 2 Chronicles begins with the powerful reign of his son, Solomon. 2 Chronicles essentially follows the history of 1 Kings and 2 Kings with a focus on the nation of Judah, which split from Israel after Solomon’s reign. This focus was no doubt because of King David who’s throne was to be established forever in Christ, the Lion of Judah. For all his wisdom, Solomon clearly experienced all the vanity of the world and was eventually swayed by other gods during his lifetime. Because of his unfaithfulness, Israel was stripped from the house of David and given to Jeroboam, but the Lord allowed David’s line to rule separately over the tribe of Judah because of His promise to David and because of David’s faithfulness. Unfortunately, as we know, the tribe of Judah, much like the rest of Israel, had many ups and downs and slowly declined to the point of falling into captivity under the Babylonian empire, rounding out the book.
BEFORE READING MORE – It would be ideal if you read the chapters to be discussed prior to looking through the outline! This week we are covering Ezra 1 – 6.
EZRA – In Ezra we fast forward through 70 years of Babylonian captivity, and we come to the proclamation of Cyrus, king of Persia and conqueror of Babylon, who, stirred up by the Lord himself, released the people of Judah so they might rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. So the line of David returned to Jerusalem under decree of Cyrus, and they immediately rejoiced. Within the first year, they rebuilt the altar, and the next year, they started rebuilding the temple of the Lord. As time passed and the building continued, the surrounding nations took offense and tattled, forcing the Israelites to stop construction. But guided by the Lord, they soon continued, despite opposition. After this, Ezra the scribe/priest returned to Jerusalem with a second wave of Israelites who were documented in great detail and number as the first. Ezra proceeded to guide the nation in the way of the Law, finding particular issue in unequally yoked marriages.
- Ezra 1-2 | Cyrus was stirred by the Lord to rebuild the temple – The Israelites returned to Jerusalem and the families are chronicled: After 70 years of captivity under the Babylonian empire, king Cyrus led the nation of Persia to conquer Babylon. In his very first year as king, Cyrus was very clearly stirred up by the Lord to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. He released the people of Judah and Benjamin, and he gathered all the treasure that had been taken from the house of the Lord and sent it all back to Jerusalem. In the second chapter we get a detailed list with exact numbers of the people of Israel, the priests, the Levites, the servants, and many others families who left captivity and returned to Jerusalem. Most notably, we see the name of Zerubbabel, grandson of king Jechoniah of Judah, direct descendant of king David, and ancestor to Jesus Christ (Matthew 1).
- Ezra 3 | The altar of the Lord was rebuilt in the first year of the Israelites return – The rebuilding of the temple was started in the second year: In the seventh month of their return, the Israelites gathered together and they rebuilt the altar of the Lord. They came in unity and they offered sacrifices to the Lord as required in the Book of the Law. They gave money to laborers and to suppliers to bring the famed cedars of Lebanon in order to rebuild the foundations of the Temple, and in the second year of their return, Zerubbabel and all the priests and Levites began to rebuild the foundation of the Temple.
And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the directions of David king of Israel. And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever towards Israel” | Ezra 3:10-11
And then one of the most beautiful scenes of the Bible unfolds as tears are shed, but the shout of joy is so great that the weeping is completely overshadowed.
And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away. | Ezra 3:11-13
- Ezra 4-6 | Foreign nations attempt to join the rebuilding – Foreign nations plea to the new king of Persia – Israel is forced to cease – Haggai and Zechariah rekindle the work of the Temple – those in opposition again reached out to the king of Persia, Darius – King Darius upholds the decree of Cyrus – the Temple is finished and the Passover celebrated: Naturally, the commotion of all that was going on in Jerusalem garnered the interest of other nations. These nations came and attempted to join in the rebuilding, claiming allegiance to the same God. Zerubbabel quickly denied their desire, which set the foreigners in opposition to the Israelites. Naturally, the generals and leaders of these nations reached out to the king of Persia to complain of the work being done, warning him that the nation, Israel, had a history of rebellion. The king decreed the work of the temple to be halted, and Israel was forced to stop. However, what seems like years later, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah rekindled the heart of the Israelites towards the building of the temple, and they began again, despite the decree of king Atarxerxes. Again, those in opposition reached out to the new king Darius, attempting to stifle the Israelites. After finding the decree of Cyrus, Darius rejected the request to stop the Israelites, and he affirmed with great vigor that no one should interfere with the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. So the Temple of the Lord was finished, and the Israelites celebrated the Passover once again.*There is some historical convolution in these two chapters of Ezra as Atarxerxes historically comes after Darius, not before – I am currently in the process of researching and updating this portion as I learn more accurate information*