Ezra Bible Study

Ezra: Lesson 6


Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Ezra 5

Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were with them, supporting them.

At the same time Tattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and their associates came to them and spoke to them thus: “Who gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?” They also asked them this: “What are the names of the men who are building this building?” But the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them until the report should reach Darius and then an answer be returned by letter concerning it.

This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and his associates, the governors who were in the province Beyond the River, sent to Darius the king. They sent him a report, in which was written as follows: “To Darius the king, all peace. Be it known to the king that we went to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God. It is being built with huge stones, and timber is laid in the walls. This work goes on diligently and prospers in their hands. Then we asked those elders and spoke to them thus: ‘Who gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?’ 10 We also asked them their names, for your information, that we might write down the names of their leaders. 11 And this was their reply to us: ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the house that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished. 12 But because our fathers had angered the God of heaven, hegave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house and carried away the people to Babylonia. 13 However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, Cyrus the king made a decree that this house of God should be rebuilt. 14 And the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple that was in Jerusalem and brought into the temple of Babylon, these Cyrus the king took out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered to one whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; 15 and he said to him, “Take these vessels, go and put them in the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt on its site.” 16 Then this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and from that time until now it has been in building, and it is not yet finished.’17 Therefore, if it seems good to the king, let search be made in the royal archives there in Babylon, to see whether a decree was issued by Cyrus the king for the rebuilding of this house of God in Jerusalem. And let the king send us his pleasure in this matter.”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider:

1. Ezra 5 continues the story of events from chapter 4. Review Ezra 4:1-5, 24 (you may also wish to review lesson 5, link above). What event or activity is this passage dealing with? Cyrus issued the decree to rebuild the temple in 538 B.C. According to Ezra 3:8, how many years did it take the people to get started? What year would it have been when they started? What does 4:24 tell us happened to the work on the temple, and when did this happen? The second year of Darius’ reign was 520 B.C. How long had work on the temple been at a halt as chapter 5 opens?

2. Which two prophets declared the word of God to Israel? (1) (You may wish to stop and read their books right now to grasp God’s message to His people.) What was Zerubbabel and Jeshua’s response to the word of the Lord? (2) How is this an example of God’s instruction to Christians in James 1:22? Do you approach Bible study and the preaching and teaching of God’s word with the willingness to be a doer of God’s word and not a hearer only? What is the most recent action you have taken as a result of hearing or studying God’s word?

3. What happened once the rebuilding of the temple started up again? (3-4) What did the elders do despite this opposition, and why were they able to do so? (5) What attribute(s) of God’s character and nature does verse 5 display? How do these attributes apply to Christians today? Take a moment to thank God for His love and care for you.

4. How would you characterize the tone of the letter Tattenai and Shethar-bozenai sent Darius (businesslike, attacking, deceptive, etc.)? (6-17) In verse 8, they refer to God as “the great God.” Why might they have called Him that in light of the thousands of other gods worshiped in the ancient world? How might their view of God have been a cause of concern that Israel was building a house for Him?

5. Re-read verses 11-16, keeping in mind that this was a “might makes right” world. How might the leaders of a secular nation, wishing to make a show of strength to neighboring nations, have responded to these inquiries? Yet, how do the elders of Israel respond? What do they lead off with in their response? (11) How might verse 12 have made Israel look in the eyes of their neighbors? For what spiritual reasons might the elders have chosen to respond this way? Political reasons? What are some ways we can point our adversaries to Christ through humility and by crediting God and His sovereignty in our lives, churches, and the world?

Ezra Bible Study

Ezra: Lesson 5


Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4

The layout of Ezra 4 is a bit tricky due to a writing technique Ezra used. The first part of chapter 4 (verses 1-5) is a continuation of chapter 3. Chapter 3 closes with the people celebrating the laying of the foundation of the temple (during Cyrus’ reign, under Zerubbabel- this was the first wave of returning exiles {538 B.C.}). Chapter 4:1-5 describes the opposition immediately following the laying of the temple’s foundation.

In order to emphasize the ongoing nature of the opposition God’s people faced from their hostile neighbors over the ensuing decades, Ezra then inserts (verses 6-23) descriptions of opposition which took place much later, during the reign of Ahasuerus (486-464 B.C.) in verse 6, and again during the reign of Artaxerxes (464-423 B.C.). It was during Artaxerxes’ reign that Ezra returned with the second wave of exiles (458 B.C.) and Nehemiah returned with the third and final wave of exiles (445 B.C.).

Ezra then returns to the “present time” (opposition to the laying of the foundation under Zerubbabel) in verse 24.

You may wish to go back over the introductory material to Ezra and these notes to get more clarity.

Ezra 4

Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ houses and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here.” But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel said to them, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”

Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

In the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam and Mithredath and Tabeel and the rest of their associates wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia. The letter was written in Aramaic and translated. Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows: Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates, the judges, the governors, the officials, the Persians, the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the Elamites, 10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnappar deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River. 11 (This is a copy of the letter that they sent.) “To Artaxerxes the king: Your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. And now 12 be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. 13 Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired. 14 Now because we eat the salt of the palace and it is not fitting for us to witness the king’s dishonor, therefore we send and inform the king, 15 in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will find in the book of the records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from of old. That was why this city was laid waste. 16 We make known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province Beyond the River.”

17 The king sent an answer: “To Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their associates who live in Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River, greeting. And now18 the letter that you sent to us has been plainly read before me. 19 And I made a decree, and search has been made, and it has been found that this city from of old has risen against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made in it. 20 And mighty kings have been over Jerusalem, who ruled over the whole province Beyond the River, to whom tribute, custom, and toll were paid. 21 Therefore make a decree that these men be made to cease, and that this city be not rebuilt, until a decree is made by me. 22 And take care not to be slack in this matter. Why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?”

23 Then, when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their associates, they went in haste to the Jews at Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease. 24 Then the work on the house of God that is in Jerusalem stopped, and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider:

1. How would you state the theme of this chapter in 1-2 sentences? How does Ezra’s insertion of later material reinforce this theme?

2. Why wouldn’t the leaders of Israel let the adversaries help them build the temple? (1-3) Wouldn’t it have been faster and easier to have their help? Did the adversaries really “worship your God as you do“? (2) Think back over Old Testament history. What tended to happen to Israel when they intermarried or partnered with idol worshippers? How might these adversaries have influenced Israel toward idolatry? What was the adversaries’ real motive for offering help? (4-5)

3. Why is it just as important for the church today to reject ecumenism with apostate or idolatrous “churches” or “Christians”? Can you think of any events or situations today in which Christians are partnering with “adversaries” who claim to “worship your God as you do” in order to “rebuild the temple”? How does 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 show that God still doesn’t want His people to partner with pagans and idolators?

4. In verses 4-5, 24, the adversaries are fighting against the rebuilding of which structure? Why would they not want the temple rebuilt? In verses 6-23, later adversaries are opposing the rebuilding of which structures? (12-13) Why would the adversaries not want the city and walls rebuilt? Why would the king not want the city and walls rebuilt? (13,15-16, 19-20)

5. Why do God’s people – in the Old Testament, New Testament, and today – face opposition and persecution? Examine these Scriptures and compare them with the opposition and persecution faced by God’s people in Ezra 4.

Ezra Bible Study

Ezra: Lesson 4

ezra-study-e1465330077513Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3

Ezra 3

When the seventh month came, and the children of Israel were in the towns, the people gathered as one man to Jerusalem. Then arose Jeshua the son of Jozadak, with his fellow priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel with his kinsmen, and they built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening. And they kept the Feast of Booths, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number according to the rule, as each day required, and after that the regular burnt offerings, the offerings at the new moon and at all the appointed feasts of the Lord, and the offerings of everyone who made a freewill offering to the Lord. From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord. But the foundation of the temple of the Lord was not yet laid. So they gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the Sidonians and the Tyrians to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the grant that they had from Cyrus king of Persia.

Now in the second year after their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak made a beginning, together with the rest of their kinsmen, the priests and the Levites and all who had come to Jerusalem from the captivity. They appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to supervise the work of the house of the Lord. And Jeshua with his sons and his brothers, and Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together supervised the workmen in the house of God, along with the sons of Henadad and the Levites, their sons and brothers.

10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the directions of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,

“For he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”

And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider:

1. Read Ezra 3 and summarize the story line in 1-2 sentences. What was the first thing the people did when they arrived in Jerusalem after coming out of exile? (1, also 2:70) After the people had settled into their homes and towns, what was the first structure they built? (2) The second? (10)

2. What does verse 1 mean when it says the people gathered “as one man“? In what aspects can the church come together “as one man” when we meet for worship or do Kingdom work? Who led the way in rebuilding the altar (2-3) and what were their positions of leadership over the people?

3. In verses 2-6, what do the phrases “as it is written in the Law of Moses” (2), “as it is written,” and “according to the rule” (4), mean? How do the people’s actions in these verses show that their worship was guided by Scripture and carried out in obedience to it? How do the altar and the sacrifices point us to Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross?  Consider the worship service at your church. Are all aspects of the service guided by Scripture and carried out in obedience to it? Does your worship service center around Christ and the cross?

4. Considering the spiritual significance of the first temple, why would it have been important to rebuild the temple? Compare verses 8-10 with Luke 6:46-49. What are some parallels between Israel laying the foundation of the temple according to God’s word and the foundation of our faith today being obedience to Christ and His word?

5. Compare verses 11-13 with 2 Chronicles 7:1-10. What are some of the similarities and differences between the people’s response to completion of Solomon’s temple and their response to the laying of the foundation of the post-exilic temple? (Especially compare v. 11 with 7:3 and v. 12-13 with 7:10). Was there any weeping at the completion of Solomon’s temple? Why would the “old men” have been weeping in verses 11-12? Recalling all that had happened to Israel between the completion of Solomon’s temple and the laying of the foundation of the post-exilic temple, was there good reason for both joy and weeping? What were those reasons?

6. In what ways could the laying of the foundation of the temple be considered Israel’s being “born again”? Think about…

…how the exile points to our captivity by the enemy and bondage to sin

…how God delivered His people from bondage through Jeshua the high priest, who “made a beginning” (8) of the foundation, and how God delivered us through Yeshua our High Priest who made a beginning – the beginning and the end, the founder and perfecter – of our faith.

…how the people mourned over the sin that had destroyed God’s ideal dwelling yet rejoiced over beginning a new life with Him, delivered and forgiven, and how we do the same when we come to new life in Christ.

Ezra Bible Study

Ezra: Lesson 3

ezra-study-e1465330077513Previous Lessons: 1, 2

Ezra 2

Now these were the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried captive to Babylonia. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town. They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah.

The number of the men of the people of Israel: the sons of Parosh, 2,172. The sons of Shephatiah, 372. The sons of Arah, 775. The sons of Pahath-moab, namely the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,812.The sons of Elam, 1,254. The sons of Zattu, 945. The sons of Zaccai, 760. 10 The sons of Bani, 642.11 The sons of Bebai, 623. 12 The sons of Azgad, 1,222. 13 The sons of Adonikam, 666. 14 The sons of Bigvai, 2,056. 15 The sons of Adin, 454. 16 The sons of Ater, namely of Hezekiah, 98. 17 The sons of Bezai, 323. 18 The sons of Jorah, 112. 19 The sons of Hashum, 223. 20 The sons of Gibbar, 95. 21 The sons of Bethlehem, 123. 22 The men of Netophah, 56. 23 The men of Anathoth, 128. 24 The sons of Azmaveth, 42. 25 The sons of Kiriath-arim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, 743. 26 The sons of Ramah and Geba, 621. 27 The men of Michmas, 122. 28 The men of Bethel and Ai, 223. 29 The sons of Nebo, 52.30 The sons of Magbish, 156. 31 The sons of the other Elam, 1,254. 32 The sons of Harim, 320. 33 The sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, 725. 34 The sons of Jericho, 345. 35 The sons of Senaah, 3,630.

36 The priests: the sons of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, 973. 37 The sons of Immer, 1,052. 38 Thesons of Pashhur, 1,247. 39 The sons of Harim, 1,017.

40 The Levites: the sons of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the sons of Hodaviah, 74. 41 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 128. 42 The sons of the gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, and the sons of Shobai, in all 139.

43 The temple servants: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth, 44 the sons of Keros, the sons of Siaha, the sons of Padon, 45 the sons of Lebanah, the sons of Hagabah, the sons of Akkub, 46 the sons of Hagab, the sons of Shamlai, the sons of Hanan, 47 the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, the sons of Reaiah, 48 the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, the sons of Gazzam, 49 the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, the sons of Besai, 50 the sons of Asnah, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephisim, 51 the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, 52 the sons of Bazluth, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, 53 the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Temah, 54 the sons of Neziah, and the sons of Hatipha.

55 The sons of Solomon’s servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Hassophereth, the sons of Peruda,56 the sons of Jaalah, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, 57 the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth-hazzebaim, and the sons of Ami.

58 All the temple servants and the sons of Solomon’s servants were 392.

59 The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer,though they could not prove their fathers’ houses or their descent, whether they belonged to Israel:60 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, and the sons of Nekoda, 652. 61 Also, of the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, and the sons of Barzillai (who had taken a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name). 62 These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but they were not found there, and so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 63 The governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food, until there should be a priest to consult Urim and Thummim.

64 The whole assembly together was 42,360, 65 besides their male and female servants, of whom there were 7,337, and they had 200 male and female singers. 66 Their horses were 736, their mules were 245, 67 their camels were 435, and their donkeys were 6,720.

68 Some of the heads of families, when they came to the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, made freewill offerings for the house of God, to erect it on its site. 69 According to their ability they gave tothe treasury of the work 61,000 darics of gold, 5,000 minas of silver, and 100 priests’ garments.

70 Now the priests, the Levites, some of the people, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the temple servants lived in their towns, and all the rest of Israel in their towns.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider:

1. Review again the historical background for the book of Ezra from lesson 1 (link above). How many stages of exile had there been from Judah to Babylon? How many stages of return of the exiles from Babylonia? Was this (v.1-2) the first, second, or third of the return trips? Who led this return trip? Where did the exiles settle upon their return? (1)

2. Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Does “all Scripture” include Ezra 2:2-67? How is the census information given in verses 2-67 “profitable” to Christians? Do you think the information in these verses is for teaching, reproof, correction, or training in righteousness? How do these verses “complete” and “equip” Christians for good works?

3. Notice that the group of exiles precisely numbered in verses 2-67 is organized and subdivided into several categories. What are those categories? (2b, 36a, 40a, 43a, 55a, 59). Read verses 68-69, and glance ahead at Ezra 3. What is the main event of those passages? Does this shed some light on why the categories in verses 2-67 focus largely on temple officials and leadership?

4. What was the special situation of the people mentioned in verses 59-63? (53) What two actions were taken regarding this situation in verses 62 and 63? Why would they have been excluded from the priesthood or partaking of the most holy food? What were the Urim and Thummim, and why would the priest have needed to consult them? What does this passage demonstrate about the separation between God’s people and the world? How does the New Testament reinforce this idea for Christians? Why did/does God not want His people to yoke themselves to unbelievers?

5. What does the precision and organization of the census information in verses 2-67 tell you about Ezra’s administrative skills? How can people with administrative gifts use those gifts to serve the body of Christ today? How does the information in these verses reflect on the nature and character of God? His omniscience? His love and care for His people? His attention to detail? The accuracy of His word?

Ezra Bible Study

Ezra: Lesson 2

ezra-study-e1465330077513Previous Lessons: 1

Ezra 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:

“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. 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. 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.”

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. 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. 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.Cyrus king of Persia brought these out in the charge of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. 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?