We are now on Day 31 of our reading through the Bible in ninety days. I pray you are not only learning about God, His people, God’s work with His people, His mercy and grace; but that you are also being blessed by the Spirit of God convicting you of your sin, and convincing you of your need for repentance, and forgiveness of sin; and drawing you nearer to God.
Reading today 2 Chronicles 32 – Ezra 7.
Now, let us look at Josiah who was only eight years of age when he became king of Judah, and he too “…did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father…” (34:1-2). Josiah heard the word of the LORD, after the reading of it, called the nation to repentance, and was promised to die in peace (34:21-28).
For some reason, and I believe this to be an element of his pride, though it is not named; the king sees a battle that is not his, and he goes to war against Necho, king of Egypt. The Egyptian kings sends ambassadors saying to Josiah,
“After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him. But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, ‘What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.’ Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo. And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, ‘Have me away; for I am sore wounded.’ His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.” 2 Chronicles 35:20-24 (KJV)
Josiah goes against the word of the LORD by the prophet (34:21-28), and proceeds to war when he has none to fight. O, the futility, and death that pride brings.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God humbled Himself to the point of death, and went to the cross to die for the sins of the world; mine and yours; He was buried, and rose bodily from the grave, and He still lives, exalted at the Father’s right hand.
Some may ask, “Why do you put so much stock in the Bible?” and my answer to that is, “Because, when God speaks, it comes to pass; just like He says it.” There is not one word God speaks that has been diminished, is being diminished, or will be diminished. That is why I was so inspired and encouraged by Ezra in the first seven chapters.
Someone has said, and I believe it was written by Charles H. Spurgeon; “God will not allow His children to sin successfully.” Reading the Bible sure helps us see that. God pulls no punches. We can see clearly that God deals with sin. We see also that He is gracious, and slow to anger and wrath. He is also merciful in not giving us what we truly deserve.
According to Jeremiah’s prophecy the nation of Israel would be in Babylonian captivity for seventy years. The book of Ezra begins with words similar to the closing verses of 2 Chronicles 36:22-23. At the time of Ezra that seventy years has been fulfilled, and we read –
“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, ‘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. 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. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place helpa 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.” Ezra 1:1-4 (KJV)
Now here is a catcher for you. The prophet Isaiah names the king that will do this probably 150 years or more before Cyrus is born. How can this be? The prophet, being inspired by God; God who knows all things; who knows the past, present and the future, and knows your name; and knew you before you were born; told the prophet what was going to happen, and to write it down. Isaiah did –
“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.’ Isaiah 44:28
‘Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel Mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known Me.” Isaiah 45:1-4 (KJV)
In Ezra, God has put it in the heart of Cyrus, king of Persia to fulfill His word of promise to Israel/Judah and have the temple in Jerusalem rebuilt, even to providing the precious metals and all necessary costs at Persia’s expense.
God’s purpose in the captivity was to drive Israel from her sins, and to give rest to the land for the sabbath years the people had avoided to observe (2 Chronicles 36:21), and to restore their faith in Him. In reading Ezra we read of much opposition from people of the area, even putting the work of the temple to a standstill until the king finds that it had been ordered by Cyrus years before, then the work is continued with the approval of Persia. Haggai, and Zechariah were two prophets who prophesied during this time, and encouraged the people to continue building without the approval of the king of Persia, until they did receive it (chapters 5 – 6).
Ezra went to encourage and lead in the temple’s rebuilding and to teach the word and law of the LORD –
“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” Ezra 7:10
Now, think of what God can do for you, and with you if you would surrender yourself to the way of Salvation which is found only through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ and His death on the cross, His burial where all our sin, guilt and condemnation was carried away as far as East is from West, and then He arose bodily from the grave; and is today seated by the Father’s right hand as our Great High Priest. There is no one but Him who can deliver you from your sin.
May Jesus Christ be your courage and inspiration.