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Summary: Sermon 1 in series. Israel ignored the Sabbath rest principle for the land. God declared that they would spend one year in captivity for each year the Sabbath rest was not kept. Add to this the wickedness and false worship of Judah. God keeps His word and

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The Book of Ezra

Study #3

(Ezra 1:1-4)

The Decree of Cyrus

Introduction

• Israel ignored the Sabbath rest principle for the land.

• God declared that they would spend one year in captivity for each year the Sabbath rest was not kept.

• Add to this the wickedness and false worship of Judah.

• God keeps His word and does not ignore sin.

• But now God is ready to forgive and heal!

• So, as He had prophesied through years before, He brings a king to power, then stirs his heart to “Let my people go.”

I. The Sovereignty (1a)

Ezra 1:1-11 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled,

• God is zealous to protect the integrity of His Word.

• God is desirous that you and I know that we may have rock-solid confidence in His Word!

• Jeremiah had prophesied that Israel would be there for 70 years. (See Study #1)

The Believer’s Bible Commentary reminds us that, “The decree ended seventy years of captivity for the Jews. The seventy-year period can be calculated in two ways:

* from 605 b.c., when Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem and led off the first deportation, to 535 b.c., when the foundation of the temple was laid;

* or from the fall of Jerusalem, in 586 b.c., to the completion of the temple, in 516 b.c.”

• And even though he used Babylon to punish His children, He will punish those who lift a hand against His people.

• And that is exactly what happened as we see in the handwriting on the wall in Daniel.

II. The Stirring (1b)

[1B] the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,

• God made it so that Cyrus could find no peace till he had moved in the way that the Lord directed.

A. The Prophecy (Isaiah 44:28-45:13)

1 Kings 8:56 Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.

• Please keep in mind that Isaiah wrote prior to 700 B.C.

• This would be 200 years before the events in Ezra.

• To deny this would be to make God no better than the idols mentioned in the chapter.

• Yet the prophecy in Isaiah reads like a newspaper account.

• Can you imagine a prophecy of George Washington that the events of 9/11 would take place.

• Yet that is exactly what Isaiah did!

• As you read this, the absolute rock-solid reliability of God’s word should fill your mind.

Isaiah 44:28 That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. 45:1 Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; 2 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: 3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. 4 For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. 5 I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: 6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. 7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. 8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. 9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. [NOTE: how silly that the broken pieces of pottery shall rise up in league against the potter who made them!] Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? 10 Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth? 11 Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. 12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. 13 I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts.


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