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Concluding Thoughts on Chapter 1 – Raised Up for a Purpose
If there’s one thing I know about God, it’s that He’ll always outperform our hopes and exceed our expectations. Maybe not in the way that we think it should go, but according to His wisdom and power.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21, KJV)
While we look for the good in life, God gives us the best. He knows our mind, He searches our soul, and provides for us in ways we could never provide for ourselves.
What a beautiful thing it is to have the King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords working on our behalf for our good. It doesn’t always feel that way, but I’ve come to learn how important it is to separate feelings from facts.
The fact is, the Lord was never far from His people. Yes, they were carried away by the enemy, and yes, their homes were destroyed, but they weren’t forgotten. Those years in captivity were merely a part of a much greater plan, that would move them to repentance and draw them closer to God.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7, KJV)
We tend to forget that the same God who hung the moon and the stars is the same God at work in our lives. We fail to see that the same God who created man has the power to open doors at a moment’s notice and move one’s heart according to His will.
That’s what we see in this chapter as God opens the door for His people by directing the heart of King Cyrus.
I think we all have that feeling of uncertainty at times. Wondering what we’ll do next. Wondering where God will lead. Wondering how things could possibly change. And then it suddenly does. Why? Because God’s been at work opening doors, softening hearts, and preparing the way.
Answer Key – Chapter 1
- Ezra 1:1 refers to the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy. What was that prophecy? (See Jeremiah 29:10)
For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
- What mission did God appoint to Cyrus?
To rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem which is in Judah.
- How did the neighbors (the Jews who stayed behind) assist the Israelites in their return?
They gave them silver, gold, goods, beasts, and the freewill offering for the house of God.
- How many articles of gold and silver did Sheshbazzar, The Prince of Judah, bring back to Jerusalem?
5,400 articles of gold and of silver.
- In Isaiah 45:1, what does God refer to Cyrus as?
- In the proclamation made by King Cyrus, who did he say could go to Jerusalem to build the temple?
Any of God’s people.
- Look up Sheshbazzar (Hebrew name Zerubbabel) using an online resource like Wikipedia. List three things you find out about him:
1. He was the grandson of Jeconiah, King of Judah.
2. He led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360.
3. He is always associated with Joshua the High Priest.
- Have you ever been used by God in ways you wouldn’t have imagined? Or placed in an unexpected position of ministry? Explain one that stands out.
(This answer will be different for everyone.)
Concluding Thoughts on Chapter 2 – A Chosen Priesthood
As I went over this chapter again this week, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the old hymn, “A New Name in Glory.” You might remember the chorus goes like this,
There’s a new name written down in glory,
And it’s mine, oh yes, it’s mine!
And the white-robed angels sing the story,
“A sinner has come home.”
Throughout scripture we see reference to “The Book of Life,” a record of the faithful ones who have turned away from their sin and turned to the Lord.
In much the same way we see the faithful few listed in this chapter. Merely a remnant compared to the great nation they once were. And so, even though we think these names aren’t all that important in the scheme of things, they are, when we see how they parallel our own names written in the Lamb’s Book of life.
The king’s declaration, remember, was an invitation for anyone who wanted to come.
In much the same way, Jesus tells us a parable in Luke Chapter 14 about a certain man who held a banquet. Once everything was set in place, he sent his servants out to invite the guests. But, just as many do today, they couldn’t let go of their love for this world, and so they made excuses.
I just got married… I bought some cattle… I bought some land…
One must be careful that their love for this world does not exceed their love for the Father. Or that we don’t treasure the things we have more than those things to come.
Jesus says, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
In other words we need to put God first in every choice that we make, like Abraham who left everything behind to follow God in a foreign land. Like Moses who left the comforts of Egypt to lead his people to freedom. Or Ruth who left her home back in Moab to embrace God and His people.
Answer Key – Chapter 2
- What does 1 Peter 2:9 say? Write the verse out here.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. (1 Peter 2:9, KJV)
- As royal priests, what are some ways that we can offer sacrifices to the Lord? Or, perhaps another way to word this might be, what are some things we might surrender to the Lord?
This answer will be different for everyone. Some answers might be:
Our bad habits.
Our sinful past.
- What warning does Jesus give us in regard to communion in 1 Corinthians 11?
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 11:27, KJV)
- What should we do before we come to the communion table? See Matthew 5:23-24 and 1 Corinthians 11:27.
We need to examine our hearts to see if we have any unrepented sin that we need to get right with God. We also need to forgive those who have trespassed against us and do our part to make things right with other people.
- How many people returned from exile (including the slaves and the singers) in this chapter?
- How many of them were Levites?
- Stop for a minute to examine your heart. Is there anything that you need to change in your life? Is there anything that you need to get right with God?
(This answer will be different for everyone.)
- Is there anyone in your life that you haven’t forgiven? Is there anyone that you are having an issue with? If so, what can you do to reconcile this?
(This answer will be different for everyone)
Ezra: Rebuilding the Temple, Restoring the Heart, available now @Amazon.com
Now available at Amazon.com
When you purchase a copy of the study guide you are helping to support this ministry as we share the gospel with over 500,000 women around the world.
FREE Printables – Autumn Scripture Cards
During the 6 weeks of the Bible study, I’ll be creating a set of Autumn-themed 4 x 4 inch scripture cards. Each week I’ll give you 4 for a total of 24 cards in total. These high resolution images will correspond with the theme of each week.
Click here to view and print this week’s note cards.
Darlene Schacht and her husband Michael live in Manitoba Canada where the summers are beautiful and the winters are cold. Together they’ve come to learn that relationships aren’t always easy, but that marriage, the way God intended it to be, is a treasure worth fighting for.
She began her publishing journey about twelve years ago when she pioneered one of the first online magazines for Christian women, known at the time as “Christian Women Online Magazine.” After three years, Darlene left CWO to blog as a solo author at Time-Warp Wife Ministries.
It was also during this transition that she worked alongside actress Candace Cameron Bure to write the NYT Best-Selling book, Reshaping it All: Motivation for Spiritual and Physical Fitness. Reshaping it All was the winner of both the 2011 USA Best Book Awards and the 2012 Christian Reading Retailers Choice Awards.
Author of more than 15 books, Darlene continues to write and to minister to her readers through her blog at TimeWarpWife.com.
Connect with Darlene:
You are loved by an almighty God,
The Time-Warp Wife