I find it almost ironic that immediately following the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles, are three books that are in opposite chronological order. meaning that the events of Esther, Nehemiah, and Ezra take place in that order, yet they are in reversed order in the Bible.
Why tell you this? Because if you do not know this up front, you may indeed be confused about the course of events we will be covering in this book.
One of the major problems in Israel at the time of this writing was the, oh so common, and oh so devastating problem most Christians have today. that problem; complacency.
The reason it is such a common problem is because when someone has lost something and then finds it, that person usually stops looking for that object.
Before we found Jesus we were searching, longing, looking for something that would fulfill. Along comes Jesus and not only are we now filled with peace but he throws in the security of heaven to boot. Oh we rejoice, we are happy, but again we have found what we were searching for.
I am not saying that complacency is an evil, it is certainly not, it is however a reaction to flesh and anything that reacts to flesh is subject to corruption.
sadly, even in sin, we can fall victim to the complacency zone. This is where Israel finds itself as they are nearing the end of the 70 years of captivity in babylon that they were warned about by the prophet Jeremiah.
The book of Ezra is about the return of the exiles from Babylon, the rebuilding of the Temple, and the restoration of God’s people spiritually. The book of Nehemiah is about the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, as well as the spiritual renewal of God’s people.
there are two major divisions in this book. It was Originally one book (combined with Nehemiah) the first 6 chapters deal with the restoration of the temple in 538 BC under the leadership of Zerubbabel. The project began in 536 BC. and When opposition to the building arose, work ceased for 16 years.
Complacency was setting in again and this time God sent Haggai and Zechariah to encourage them to keep building.
between chapters 6-7 there is a 58 year gap. It was during this time the events of the book of Esther took place. 81 years after the first return led by Zerubbabel, Ezra led a smaller group out of Babylonian captivity.
He was a God send inasmuch as the people were already beginning to assimilate into the pagan lands around them.
Spiritual renewal is founded and fueled by God’s power, for God’s purposes, and because of God’s promises.
the name Ezra means “Yahweh Helps” The book of Ezra begins with the building of the temple.
The restoration of the house of God is always the first thing in the way back to God.