Read: Ezra 1
The exiles were brought up from Babylonia to Jerusalem. (v. 11)
Exiles: those forced to leave their native country—banished from their homes against their will. For the Jews, exile began when, in 597 BC, Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah, destroyed Jerusalem and took captives back to resettle throughout the Babylonian empire. This captivity was a clear consequence of the peoples’ sin and for their continuing worship of false idols throughout their land. They paid dearly for this sin; for all intents and purposes, the people no longer existed as a nation.
But while the Jews had been unfaithful to God, God was still faithful to them! According to his promise to Jeremiah, the Jews would be brought back to their homeland after 70 years of captivity (Jer. 25:11-12). This is what was taking place in Ezra 1: Cyrus the Persian, who had conquered Babylon, issued a proclamation allowing the Jews to return to rebuild “the house of God that is in Jerusalem” (v. 4). Cyrus restored the vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from the temple so that they could once again be used in service.
This was a daunting task for the survivors who chose to return to their homeland. The journey was perilous. The city was in ruins, and the temple itself no longer existed. Would it be possible to rebuild? How different would this new life be from their lives as captives in Babylon? After so many years in a pagan land, could they remain faithful among the ruins? —Laura N. Sweet
As you pray, thank God for his faithfulness to his people, and trust in him.
About the Author
Laura N. Sweet is a wife, mother, grandmother, and former Christian schoolteacher from Midland, Michigan. She writes devotional material for both adults and children, and her work has appeared in more than a dozen publications.