The book of Ezra is a continuation from 1st and 2nd Chronicles.
2nd chronicles ended with the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. The Babylonians set fire to the temple of God and carried the people off to exile in Babylon. After 70 years in exile, during the reign of King Cyrus, who was king of Persia in 538 BC, the captives from Judah were allowed to return to their homeland to rebuild the temple of God under Zerubbabel.
“There is still hope for Israel” Ezra 10:2
The Book of Ezra can be read in 2 parts. Below are some questions for you to ponder as you read Ezra.
Part 1 – The rebuilding and completion of the 2nd temple in 516 BC (Ezra 1-6)
- Imagine you are one of the people in exile who is now returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple that lies in ruins. How would you have felt as you were returning home?
- The work of rebuilding the temple started two years after they return to Jerusalem in 536 BC. What was the people’s reaction when the foundations for the temple was laid?
- However, opposition arose and the rebuilding of the temple was put to a stop in 534 BC. Only during 520 BC did the rebuilding started again. What happened? How and why did the people oppose the rebuilding? Note also how God moved the Persian Kings to ensure that the rebuilding continued.
Part 2 – Ezra and the Jews return to Jerusalem (Ezra 7-10)
Ezra returned to Jerusalem with the second group of exiles 80 years after Zerubbabel. Ezra, son of Seraiah is a priest, a teacher of the law of the God of heaven, and is well versed in the law given to Moses. God used Ezra to teach the Jews how to honour God with their lives.
- What was Ezra’s intention and purpose in returning home to Jerusalem? How did he carry out his call and duty?
- Ezra found out that the Jews sinned against the Lord by marrying foreign women. As you read, think about some reasons which caused this to happen. Why was Ezra so concerned about it?
- Looking at our world today, what are some opposition and situations that may hinder the process of rebuilding in our lives? How can we carry out our call to be a channel of blessing to those in our community?