A Child's Lenten Meditation-Day 19-Return from Exile?

Ezra 1
Cyrus Helps the Exiles to Return
1:1-3pp -- 2Ch 36:22-23
1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: 2 "This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: " 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. 3 Any of his people among you--may their God be with them, and let them go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. 4 And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.' " 5 Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites--everyone whose heart God had moved--prepared to go up and build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem. 6 All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings. 7 Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god. 8 Cyrus king of Persia had them brought by Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. 9 This was the inventory: gold dishes, 30 silver dishes, 1,000 silver pans, 29 10 gold bowls, 30 matching silver bowls, 410 other articles, 1,000 11 In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and of silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along with the exiles when they came up from Babylon to Jerusalem.

If you've studied ancient history at all you may remember hearing about the Babylonian Empire that conquered a lot of the surrounding territories and organized into a much bigger empire than the city kingdoms that existed before. After that, another empire, the Persian empire, led by Cyrus fought with the Babylonian empire and conquered all of the territory that the Babylonians used to occupy, and more. Israel was no longer in captivity to Babylon, now it was Persia who was in charge.

The new king allowed the Israelites to go back to their own country, rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and the temple. God kept his promise and anyone who wanted to go back to Judea was allowed to go, with the king's blessing.

What do you think they all did?

Did they all go back?

Compared to how many were taken out of Judea, and how many there must have been in Babylon, not many actually went back to Jerusalem.

They had been in Babylon a long time. Many of those who were first taken were probably dead, 70 years is a long time. Their children and grandchildren would have grown up in Babylon, they were used to it there. A lot of them didn't want to return to a city without walls and do the work of rebuilding their country again.

But a faithful remnant returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the wall, and the temple.

But did they have a new spirit yet? Did they have new heart? Did the nations come to them for wisdom because they saw the light? Did the presence of God fill the rebuilt temple?

Well, not yet. So parts of God's promise had been fulfilled... but the rest was still to come.

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