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  • Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, the last three books of the history of God’s chosen people in the Old Testament, are related to God’s chosen people in their captivity (2 Chron. 36:17-21). Ezra concerns the return of God’s people from their captivity (cf. Daniel, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi) to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, and Nehemiah concerns the repair, the rebuilding, of the city. Esther presents to us a pattern of how the omnipresent and omnipotent God becomes the hiding God who secretly preserves and cares for His chosen people in their captivity.

    The book of Ezra provides a record of the two returns of the children of Israel from their captivity, which fulfilled God’s promise, spoken through Jeremiah, that the captivity would last only seventy years (Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10; 2 Chron. 36:21-22; Dan. 9:2). The first return was under the kingly leadership of Zerubbabel (chs. 1—6), a descendant of the royal family of David who was appointed to be the governor of Judah by Cyrus (Ezra 5:14; cf. note Ezra 1:81). The second return was under the priestly leadership of Ezra (chs. 7—10).

    The return of Israel to Jerusalem from their captivity was crucial in four points:
    1) it recovered the purpose of God’s calling Israel to make them His testimony according to His law (see note Exo. 20:11);
    2) it recovered the oneness of Israel on the unique ground of Jerusalem (Deut. 12:5, 11-14);
    3) it recovered Israel’s enjoyment of the good land promised by God; and
    4) it allowed God to fulfill His intention of having His house built and His kingdom established on the Satan-usurped earth in order to carry out His eternal economy through Israel’s participation in and enjoyment of the good land. All the foregoing crucial points typify today’s recovery of the church life, which is a recovery of the church out of captivity in the great Babylon (Rev. 17:1-6) back to the unique ground of God’s choice, the ground of oneness.

  • At the expiration of the seventy years of the captivity in Babylon, the omnipotent, sovereign God moved in a hidden way to stir up King Cyrus openly to release the Israelite captives to go back to their own land to build up God’s temple (vv. 1-4). The stirring up of the spirit of Cyrus and the spirits of the leaders of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi (v. 5) was a work of the hiding God (see note Esth. 1:11a, par. 1) for His move to rebuild His house in Jerusalem.

  • Because Cyrus not only issued the decree ordering the captives of Israel to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the house of God there (vv. 2-4) but also cooperated in this matter (vv. 7-11), he is called God’s shepherd, one who would fulfill God’s desire (Isa. 44:28), and God’s anointed, one who would serve God’s purpose (Isa. 45:1-4, 13).

  • The particular intention of the recovery of Israel from their captivity was to rebuild the temple as God’s house on the earth among His elect and to re-establish the kingdom of God on the earth for the accomplishing of God’s eternal economy. Likewise, the particular intention of the Lord’s recovery of the church in this age is to have all the saints come together in their localities to be built up together as the house of God in many cities (Eph. 2:22 and notes; Rev. 1:11 and note Rev. 1:111). Through such a house God will have His kingdom for the carrying out of His economy.

  • The gold and silver vessels of the house of God typify the experiences of the various aspects of Christ in His redemption (silver) and in His divine nature (gold). These experiences are the means to serve Christ as food to God’s people. The return of the vessels from Babylon to Jerusalem typifies the return of Christ’s riches to the unique ground of the genuine oneness of the church to enrich the recovery of the church. See note Isa. 22:242.

  • Perhaps the Babylonian name of Zerubbabel; also mentioned in Ezra 5:14, 16.

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