Summary: In this second sermon in this series, we explore how Israel follows God's lead after King Cyrus gives them permission to return and rebuild the Temple of God.
A. Many of us have our favorite songs. Maybe it’s a song that describes the theme of our lives or of our relationships.
1. Major league baseball now uses what are called a player’s walk-up song – It is used as a player heads to the mound or walks to the batter’s box.
2. A player’s walk-up song can tell a lot about that player.
3. So I got to thinking about what might be the “walk-up song” for some biblical characters.
4. What song would you suggest for the following biblical characters?
1. Adam and Eve: “Strangers in Paradise”
2. Methuselah: “Stayin’ Alive”
3. Noah: “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”
4. Moses: “The Wanderer”
5. Esther: “I Feel Pretty”
6. Samson: “Hair”
7. Daniel: “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”
8. Nebuchadnezzar: “Crazy”
9. The Israelites: “On the Road Again. I just can’t wait to get on the road again!”
10. The Israelites have done a lot of traveling – following God’s lead.
B. Last week we started a new sermon series on the Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah called “Restoring and Renewing the People of God.”
1. We began by setting the historical stage for the events of Ezra and Nehemiah.
2. We learned that after the Israelites had disregarded years of God’s warnings, God allowed His people, the Jews, to be taken into Babylonian captivity, just as He had warned.
3. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, destroyed the Temple of God in Jerusalem, and the whole city of Jerusalem, and took huge numbers of people away into exile.
4. Our sovereign and gracious God had spoken through the prophets, like Jeremiah, and had predicted the exile and its’ duration of 70 years.
5. Two hundred years before these events, God had prophesied through Isaiah the prophet, that Cyrus King of Persia would be the one to allow God’s people to return and rebuild after the exile.
6. All these things transpired just as God had promised.
7. God had not forgotten His people. God had not been defeated by the gods of Babylon. God had been faithful to His promises all along.
8. Today we want to examine what took place as God’s people began to take advantage of Cyrus’ edict allowing them to return and rebuild.
I. The Story
A. Let’s read Ezra 1:5-11: 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. 6 All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings. 7 Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god. 8 Cyrus king of Persia had them brought by Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. 9 This was the inventory: gold dishes, 30 silver dishes, 1,000 silver pans, 29 10 gold bowls, 30 matching silver bowls, 410 other articles, 1,000 11 In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and of silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along when the exiles came up from Babylon to Jerusalem.
1. Let’s notice several things in these verses.
2. Notice that the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi are mentioned.
a. The southern kingdom, called Judah, was comprised of only the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
b. The Levites had no land of their own and were scattered among all the tribes of the south and the north.
3. Notice that only those in whose heart God had moved decided to go up and build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem.
a. I wonder how that worked – did God target only some of their hearts to move them, or did God try to touch all of their hears, but some were more receptive than others.
4. In verse 6, we notice that all their neighbors assisted them by giving them money, goods, and livestock.
a. In many ways, this is reminiscent of the time when the Jewish people left Egypt and were sent off by the Egyptians will all kinds of stuff, so they plundered Egypt.
5. In verses 7 – 11, we are told about the articles from the Temple of the Lord that Nebuchadnezzar at taken and were now being returned by King Cyrus.
a. Let’s spend a moment getting a sense of what a big deal this must have been to the Jews.
b. Can you imagine what an awful sight it must have been to see the beautiful vessels of God’s temple in the hands of pagans?
1. They had been specially created for use in the worship of God.