Previous Lessons: 1
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:
2 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem. 4 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.”
5 Then rose up the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem. 6 And all who were about them aided them with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, with beasts, and with costly wares, besides all that was freely offered. 7 Cyrus the king also brought out the vessels of the house of the Lord that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods.8 Cyrus king of Persia brought these out in the charge of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. 9 And this was the number of them: 30 basins of gold, 1,000 basins of silver, 29 censers, 10 30 bowls of gold, 410 bowls of silver, and 1,000 other vessels; 11 all the vessels of gold and of silver were 5,400. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up, when the exiles were brought up from Babylonia to Jerusalem.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Questions to Consider:
1. If needed, refamiliarize yourself with the characters, purpose, and historical setting of the book of Ezra by reviewing lesson 1 of this study. Read the entirety of Ezra 1, identifying each character and location mentioned.
2. Read Cyrus’ decree in verses 2-4. Summarize it in your own words. To whom was it written, and what instructions does Cyrus give? How does Cyrus describe God? How was this decree a fulfillment of “the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah“? (1) (Notice the context all of these passages give to the popular “coffee cup verse” Jeremiah 29:11.)
3. Verses 1 and 5 say God “stirred up the spirit” of Cyrus and the people. Examining these verses in the context of this chapter, what does this phrase mean? Compare these verses to Proverbs 21:1 and these other passages about God “stirring” people’s hearts or spirits. What can we learn from these Scriptures about God moving the hearts of people in order to accomplish His will? What does this teach us about God’s sovereignty?
4. Do verses 5-6 remind you of another major Old Testament event? What are some of the similarities and differences between these two events? What are some things God might have wanted to remind His people of as they remembered the Exodus on their journey back to Jerusalem? How do both the Exodus and the return from exile point us to Christ and how He delivers us from slavery to sin?
5. Verses 7-11 describe God’s preservation and restoration to His people of the temple vessels. Who had originally seized them? (7) For how many years had God protected these worship vessels? (see link in question 2 for help). Consider God’s protection of these vessels for so many years – through war, the overthrow of Babylon, the leadership of various pagan kings – and God’s promise to return them, along with His promise to bring His people out of exile after 70 years. How can God’s sovereign protection, preservation, and deliverance of His people in this story move you to trust Him to keep His promises? To provide for you? To save and keep you? That He is always in control?