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April 19, 2023 - Ezra 1-2

Chronicles ended with Cyrus, king of Persia, issuing his famous edict, and with the people preparing to return home from exile. As when leaving Egypt, the people received provisions from the people who were holding them captive. Cyrus instructed, “And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem” (1:4). Also, Cyrus brought out and returned all that had been plundered from the temple. Our God always provides, usually through means but sometimes miraculously, what we need when we need it.

It’s so important, I think, to linger a bit on the very first verse of Ezra: “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled . . .” (1:1). The exile was God’s doing, though brought about through the means of Nebuchadnezzar and his armies. The return was God’s doing, though realized through Cyrus’ power as king and his decree. Furthermore, Israel’s return to the land of promise was right on time and in fulfillment of the Lord’s promise through Jeremiah. How good our God is! How he cares us!

Triumphant Lord, thy goodness reigns

Through all the wide celestial plains;

And its full streams redundant flow

Down to th’ abodes of men below.

O give to every human heart

To taste, and feel, how good thou art;

With grateful love, and reverend fear,

To know how blest thy children are. -- Philip Doddridge (1812)

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