• William T. Howe Ph.D.

May 21, 2021

Daily Reading: Ezra 1-3

Ezra 1:3

Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.

Know it or not, if you are reading through the Bible according to our schedule you are in an exciting time in the life of Israel. Did you notice that the last two verses of II Chronicles and the first verses of Ezra are identical? Ezra picks up where II Chronicles ends, which is the decree of Cyrus that allowed the Israelites to return to their homeland. The captivity is over, but oppression is not.

This decree of Cyrus was prophesied by Isaiah about 200 years earlier (Isaiah 44:28). In these closing, and opening verses we read the fulfillment of the man of God's prophecy. 49,897 returned from Babylon to Jerusalem in the year 536 B.C. It will be about another 90 years before Nehemiah oversees the rebuilding of the walls around that city. Make no mistake, while the Israelites were permitted to return to rebuild Jerusalem they were still under the thumb of the Medo-Persian rulers (namely Cyrus and Darius).

At the same time of this decree, Daniel was in Babylon, Ezekiel was in captivity, and the "Times of the Gentiles" began which will continue until the Revelation of Jesus Christ at the Battle of Armageddon (began with the conquering of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. to Revelation 19:11-21). Meaning that there is a major change in the focus of the Word of God from the Jewish state to the Gentile world.

Another aspect of history worth noting is that with the emergence of Cyrus, the second world power, as given by Daniel, began. Nebuchadnezzar was the first, the Revived Roman Empire will be the last (five in all: Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greece, Roman Empire, and the Revived Roman Empire will be the last world empire). After these five world empires comes the Last, the Stone cut out without Hands, the Empire of Christ's rule and reign upon the earth that crushes all others.

Also, consider this for fodder. There were three major deportations of the Hebrews: 606, 597 and 586 B.C. Likewise, there were three major returns: 536, 458, and 444 B.C. Interestingly enough there are three major resurrections in the New Testament: Christ, they that are His at His coming, and the general resurrection of Revelation for the lost to come before the White Throne Judgment. Also, there are three major Judgments: self-judgment (the Christian's daily confession of sins), the Judgment Seat of Christ (the Christian's place of reward or loss of reward), and the White Throne Judgment of the lost. There are also three major simultaneous realities of God's presence and involvement: yesterday, today, and forever. There are three basic appearances of Christ: His birth and life, His post resurrection appearances on earth; and His coming/appearing in Glory. We could go on and on and on with the number three.

Suffice it to say, the focal point of the Old Testament is moving. From here on, in this Testament, there are times where the events overlap, look backward, and look forward. Be diligent to keep up with the setting and most doubtful disputations will cease.

Until tomorrow, live for Christ today.

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