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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
(412)822-7255
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Pastor's Pen - May 21, 2007
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May 21, 2007

Ezra 1-3
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Ezra
Chapter 1
  1. Now 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, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
  2. Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
  3. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.
  4. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
  5. Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.
  6. And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.
  7. Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods;
  8. Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.
  9. And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives,
  10. Thirty basons of gold, silver basons of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand.
  11. All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem.


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Ezra
Chapter 2
  1. Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city;
  2. Which came with Zerubbabel: Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel:
  3. The children of Parosh, two thousand an hundred seventy and two.
  4. The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two.
  5. The children of Arah, seven hundred seventy and five.
  6. The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and twelve.
  7. The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.
  8. The children of Zattu, nine hundred forty and five.
  9. The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore.
  10. The children of Bani, six hundred forty and two.
  11. The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and three.
  12. The children of Azgad, a thousand two hundred twenty and two.
  13. The children of Adonikam, six hundred sixty and six.
  14. The children of Bigvai, two thousand fifty and six.
  15. The children of Adin, four hundred fifty and four.
  16. The children of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety and eight.
  17. The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and three.
  18. The children of Jorah, an hundred and twelve.
  19. The children of Hashum, two hundred twenty and three.
  20. The children of Gibbar, ninety and five.
  21. The children of Bethlehem, an hundred twenty and three.
  22. The men of Netophah, fifty and six.
  23. The men of Anathoth, an hundred twenty and eight.
  24. The children of Azmaveth, forty and two.
  25. The children of Kirjath-arim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty and three.
  26. The children of Ramah and Gaba, six hundred twenty and one.
  27. The men of Michmas, an hundred twenty and two.
  28. The men of Bethel and Ai, two hundred twenty and three.
  29. The children of Nebo, fifty and two.
  30. The children of Magbish, an hundred fifty and six.
  31. The children of the other Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.
  32. The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty.
  33. The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty and five.
  34. The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five.
  35. The children of Senaah, three thousand and six hundred and thirty.
  36. The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy and three.
  37. The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two.
  38. The children of Pashur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven.
  39. The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen.
  40. The Levites: the children of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the children of Hodaviah, seventy and four.
  41. The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred twenty and eight.
  42. The children of the porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, in all an hundred thirty and nine.
  43. The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabbaoth,
  44. The children of Keros, the children of Siaha, the children of Padon,
  45. The children of Lebanah, the children of Hagabah, the children of Akkub,
  46. The children of Hagab, the children of Shalmai, the children of Hanan,
  47. The children of Giddel, the children of Gahar, the children of Reaiah,
  48. The children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, the children of Gazzam,
  49. The children of Uzza, the children of Paseah, the children of Besai,
  50. The children of Asnah, the children of Mehunim, the children of Nephusim,
  51. The children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur,
  52. The children of Bazluth, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha,
  53. The children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Thamah,
  54. The children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha.
  55. The children of Solomon's servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, the children of Peruda,
  56. The children of Jaalah, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel,
  57. The children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth of Zebaim, the children of Ami.
  58. All the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants, were three hundred ninety and two.
  59. And these were they which went up from Telmelah, Telharsa, Cherub, Addan, and Immer: but they could not shew their father's house, and their seed, whether they were of Israel:
  60. The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred fifty and two.
  61. And of the children of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai; which took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name:
  62. These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.
  63. And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim.
  64. The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore,
  65. Beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women.
  66. Their horses were seven hundred thirty and six; their mules, two hundred forty and five;
  67. Their camels, four hundred thirty and five; their asses, six thousand seven hundred and twenty.
  68. And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place:
  69. They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pound of silver, and one hundred priests' garments.
  70. So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities.


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Ezra
Chapter 3
  1. And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.
  2. Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.
  3. And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.
  4. They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required;
  5. And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.
  6. From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.
  7. They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.
  8. Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD.
  9. Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites.
  10. And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.
  11. And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever 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 chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:
  13. So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.


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Thought for the day:
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 II Chronicles 36 ends with an interesting statement. The era of the kings of Israel and Judah had ended with the beginning of the Babylonian captivity, which started approximately 606 B.C. This captivity is mentioned in II Chronicles 36:20, where it states that

"And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia:"
The Bible then tells us that this captivity was to last for seventy years because the Jews had failed to keep the Lord's Sabbath years of rest for many generations, and the Lord was now going to allow the land to rest for the amount of time that the Jews should have allowed over their years of rebellion. This was to continue until Cyrus, the king of Persia, uttered a proclamation that he had been called by God to have a new Temple built in Jerusalem, and that he was going to allow any Jew who wanted to return to Israel to do so.

 The book of Ezra opens with this proclamation of Cyrus, which was made in 536 B.C., 70 years after the deportation of the Israelites had begun. It is interesting to note that Isaiah's prophecy of this event was delivered 150 years before Cyrus was born, and 80 years before the Jews even went into captivity. Isaiah 44:28 says,

"That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid."
This is one of many proofs of the authority of the Word of God, for how could Isaiah have known these facts, even down to the name of the king, if God had not revealed it unto him? God's Word is always right, and even though we may not understand it, we know that what it says will take place!

 Thus, in Ezra 1, Cyrus makes his declaration, and allows any Jew who wants to return to Jerusalem to go. All those Jews who remained behind in Babylon were to help with the finances of the endeavor. In all, over 42,000 Jews made the trip back to Israel, along with numerous servants. By chapter three, the Israelites had arrived back in the Promised Land, had gotten settled in, and had begun the work on the Temple. They immediately set up an altar so that they could offer sacrifices to the Lord. This was done for two reasons: first, because it was commanded in the law of Moses, and second, because they feared the people who lived around them (vs. 2-3). They realized that if their mission was going to have any success, it was going to be because of God and not because of Cyrus. Therefore, they set out to be sure that God was pleased with what they were doing.

 Finally they began to lay the foundation for the Temple. As soon as this part was finished there was a great cry of rejoicing from many of the people. The Temple was a vital part of their life and worship, and it was a great thrill for them to see its foundation laid again. However, some of the elderly men who had seen the original House of God were moved to tears. They were undoubtedly happy that a Temple was being built, but they grieved from the realization that this building would be inferior in every way to the one that they had previously worshipped in. They perhaps thought of what they could have still had if they had only followed God, but now that was a distant memory, and the newer, smaller, less beautiful Temple would have to do. Here is a lesson that can be learned from this incident: once something has been lost because of sin, it may never be restored. All that comes from God is good, and it is right to rejoice in whatever He sends our way. However, sometimes when we reflect on situations, we understand that, while what we have is good, what we could have had was greater. Had Israel obeyed in the first place there would have been no captivity and deportation, and no destruction of the Temple. Sometimes we fail to realize how good we have it until it is taken away from us. May we be thankful today for all that we have, and see to it that we never have to settle for "second best" from God.

Pastor Dr. Mark J Montgomery

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