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©Michael Player

Chapter 1:1-4 (ESV)

Posted on October 05, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 1:1-4 (ESV) - 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.”

Question to consider: Where were the people of Israel exiled at this time?

Even though the book of Jeremiah comes after the book of Ezra in the Old Testament, Jeremiah died about ninety years before Ezra was born. The books of the Bible are grouped according to type, and Ezra is listed among the historical books and was written during the generation at the end of the Babylonian exile. Jeremiah had prophesied that Israel would be brought back to the land after seventy years of exile in Babylon. Isaiah affirmed this vision by saying all this would be done at the hand of Cyrus (who would not be born for 150 years after this prophecy).

At the time of Moses, nations sought to destroy all others in an attempt to defeat their gods. Nebuchadnezzar was probably the most successful of these kingdoms, crushing other nations, giving their people new names after the Babylonian gods, and then forcing them to eat food sacrificed to these gods. Ultimately, Babylon created an idol of king Nebuchadnezzar, and he was happy to force people to bow to it.

People say history repeats itself, but it is more nuanced than that. Often nations try to rehash old ideas and methods while tweaking them to see if they can produce a different outcome. Currently, we are living through a generation who is trying to bring Socialism to the west, arguing that the new version is more democratic and will be done correctly this time. In truth, it cannot work because it begins with the premise that people are fundamentally good and can eventually be trained to divest themselves of their desire for possessions and create a new society where everything is distributed equally by a benevolent state. We who love scripture know that people are fundamentally in rebellion against God and fail to live up to God’s command to worship Him alone and love our neighbor. Thus, governments become corrupt, and our attempts to build an earthly utopia will continue to fail until Christ returns in righteousness.

Ultimately, the leadership style of Nebuchadnezzar failed because people eventually revolted when being forced to worship the gods of their oppressors. Cyrus of Persia gained enough power to topple Babylon because he understood that it was better to create allies out of your enemies and let them retain their worship practices and customs. In the case of Israel, Cyrus recognized that their God was not of this world but ruled the heavens and allowed him to rule the earth. Because of this, he proclaimed that he was rewarding this God by promising to let His people build their temple in Jerusalem.

Rulers like Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus recognized the prophets of God like Daniel who were given dreams or the ability to interpret the king’s dreams. I’m sure this God who inhabited the heavenly dream realm seemed harmless to Cyrus because the mighty Marduk was more interested in land dominance. Whatever the reason, Cyrus allowed select Israelites to inhabit the land of Judah and began to restore their temple.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for making sure Your prophetic word always came to be. May these fulfillments give us the faith to persevere and look forward to the day when Christ has promised to return. Amen.