A New Beginning

Today's Bible reading: Ezra 1:7-11

Even before allowing His people to be taken away into exile, God promised their return … and that promised rescue did come.  Babylon fell to a new power - the Persians - whose policy in dealing with subjugated peoples was mild and enlightened.  The Persian’s way of thinking was that nations were more likely to remain loyal subjects if given a measure of freedom and autonomy.

And this brings us to the last of the history books of the Old Testament: Ezra and Nehemiah.  The twin books of Ezra and Nehemiah give an account of the history of the community in Judea after their return from exile – from the edict of King Cyrus of Persia to the end of Nehemiah's activity.

It’s not a continuous story … nor is it easy to date all the events recorded.  However, if we look at the two works together we see that they deal with three main issues: 1. the permission to rebuild the temple … 2. the endorsement of the law … 3. the permission to rebuild the walls.  Each section begins with the authorization of a Persian king, and concludes with a solemn public service of dedication.

Prayer: Lord of history, stir my heart to praise You and serve my neighbor according to Your merciful goodness.  Amen.