If you’ve been reading the Bible along with me, you’ll recall that the next books were meant to be Daniel and Ezra; I’ve added Nehemiah into the mix here; it only takes about 45 minutes to read, and it pairs so nicely with Ezra that these two really shouldn’t be separated. A little background about Ezra and Nehemiah is helpful:
In 539BC, the Persian empire overthrew Babylon, the empire that had destroyed Jerusalem and taken the Jews into exile. The first emperor of Persia, Cyrus, allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem, and actually gave them a building allowance for the purpose of rebuilding the temple there. This was par for the course for the Persian empire; they liked the people they conquered to stay in their own land and build up their culture, as this would create a better relationship between those who had been conquered and the empire. Though there were probably at least 2 million Jews in Babylon in exile, only 50,000 returned to Jerusalem. The first wave of exiles returned to Jerusalem in 538BC under the leadership of Zerubbabel. In 458BC, the second wave of exiles returned to Jerusalem with Ezra. Though the first wave of exiles were meant to build the temple upon returning to the land, they met opposition from non-Jewish inhabitants of Judah, and they stopped building for fifteen years. The temple was finally completed in 515BC. Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem in 444BC for the purpose of rebuilding the city’s walls. Unlike the temple, the walls were built quickly, as Nehemiah was committed to doing the task that God had given him. Both Ezra and Nehemiah were committed to making sure that the people of God were living godly lives, especially now that they had returned to the Promised Land.
If you’re reading the Bible along with me, our next post will be on Zechariah, Esther, Haggai and Malachi. All four books will take approximately one hour and forty-five minutes to read.
Main Idea: God is greater than any earthly king; His kingdom is greater than earthly kingdom.
Reason Written: To show how God is sovereign over all rulers and kingdoms.
Timeless Truth: God’s people are to have a devoted prayer life (Daniel 6).
Ezra + Nehemiah
Ezra Main Idea: The remnant returns to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the city. Ezra the priest is sent to teach the people; he deals with issue of intermarriage.
Ezra Reason Written: Written to show how the remnant returned to Jerusalem, and to warn against intermarriage.
Ezra Timeless Truth: God provides everything one needs for his/her calling (Ezra 1:2-4; 6:1-15; 7:14-20).
Nehemiah Main Idea: The remnant rebuilds the wall of Jerusalem and reestablishes their covenant with God.
Nehemiah Reason Written: To show how the wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt, and how God’s people once again resorted to rebellion, even though they had reestablished their covenant with God.
Nehemiah Timeless Truth: God’s people are to live lives that are pleasing to the Lord (Nehemiah 5:19; 13:14,22,31b).