Monday, June 17, 2019

Ezra Bible Study - Stirred: Cyrus' Proclamation

Ezra begins with a proclamation from King Cyrus, the king of the Persian Empire, considered the greatest ruling power in the world at that time. Cyrus was a great military leader, bent on universal conquest. Babylon fell before his army - B.C. 538 on the night of Belshazzar’s feast (Daniel. 5:30), and then the ancient dominion of Assyria was also added to his empire (Isaiah 21:2)In capturing Babylon, the Jews had new leadership under King Cyrus. The oft-quoted verse in Jeremiah 29 refers to the Jews who were in captivity. In Jeremiah 29:10, Jeremiah prophesies that after 70 years are passed in Babylon, I (God) will visit you because God knew the plans he had toward his people: thoughts of peace and not of evil to bring you an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11). God had plans for the Jews' freedom.

The Jews were no longer in captivity, but they were still in Babylon. If they knew of this prophecy, they probably could not conceive how their lives would turn around; how they would be the beneficiaries of peace
instead of evil. It was a year later when Cyrus made his proclamation, which in essence said, "you're free, you can go back home." Not only did he give freed Jews permission to leave, he told his countrymen to provide for them as they traveled and give an offering for the temple. In some way, he gave them reparations for their captivity.

Cyrus' proclamation is found in Ezra 1:2-4.
This is what King Cyrus of Persia says:“The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are his people may go to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild this Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. And may your God be with you! Wherever this Jewish remnant is found, let their neighbors contribute toward their expenses by giving them silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock, as well as a voluntary offering for the Temple of God in Jerusalem.”

Up to this point in time, the great kings of the earth had only oppressed the Jews. Cyrus was to them as a “shepherd” (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1). Daniel served under King Cyrus, and there is some speculation that it was he who made King Cyrus aware of the prophecy concerning him. The Lord stirred up Cyrus' heart, and Cyrus recognized that this stirring was from God. On his own, he may not have done anything, but being stirred, he moved. With his proclamation, Cyrus initiated the first wave of Jews returning to Israel. Cyrus' proclamation also facilitated the building of the temple since the building expenses were paid from the royal treasury (Ezra 1:4-11). Without his proclamation, the Jews may not have returned to Israel to rebuild the temple. However, God used him in doing service to the Jews. Sometimes, we all need a proclamation!

Cyrus is known for his advancement of human rights, his brilliant military strategy, and bridging eastern and western cultures. He had tremendous influence. Cyrus was willing to play his part, acknowledging God's sovereignty, being obedient and humble though he was considered great. He was a leader that epitomized Proverbs 21:1 (

Reflections - Don't count people out. Perhaps you can be the one that opens other's eyes to God's truth. Cyrus was aware of how he would be used in the Jews journey and used his power to do his part.  Seventy years is a long time to wait for God's promise to be fulfilled. Some of the older generations may have died in despair or doubt may have set in for those that remained. The younger generation, seeing no change, was probably also doubtful. With new leadership under Cyrus, the Jews were perhaps expecting more of the same. But God had other things in mind. Sometimes we need a proclamation to remind us of our freedom. We can get so used to being in bondage, that we may be tentative about our new found freedom.  Cyrus proclamation was insistent in its liberty and generous in its preparation for the next steps. Likewise, we are free in Christ with ample provision for the road ahead.

Prayer - Dear Lord, we see that you stir hearts; you move people to action. You stirred Cyrus' heart in issuing his proclamation of freedom. Then you stirred the hearts of the priests and Levites and the leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of the Lord. Your stirring initiates and activates. Stir our hearts, Lord, to do your will. As you stir, may we remember that we are no longer in bondage for you came to set us free. May we live as free as we are awakened by you. Amen.

Logos Bible Software
Scofield Reference Bible
Bible Gateway


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  1. Beautiful truth, Nylse! God will stop at nothing to accomplish his purposes, and even a pagan king is swept into the flow of God's purposes. Amazing thoughts on Daniel and Cyrus. I can picture the conversation, and like the leader he was, Cyrus would not wanted to have missed out on the opportunity to influence history!

  2. Dear Nylse, thank you for sharing insights into Cyrus and the tremendous impact he chose to make upon the Jewish people. I especially appreciated your encouragement that we may be the one to open someone's eyes to the Lord. I have a dear friend who is seeking, but through knowledge and intellectual pursuit. It's hard to hang in there with him, speaking and living the Lord. Thanks for your exhortation!

  3. Thank you Nylse for this study on Ezra. That's not a book I've look at with any in depth study in a long time. You brought out some excellent points and I need to get in there and dig deeper in that book, very soon. Thank you for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

  4. God has poured out His blessing on you to bring such wealth to your heart from the scripture here. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for encouraging toward's Him.

  5. Thank you for sharing this passage and study! Such a reminder that we need to listen to God's leading and then FOLLOW - because He can use us in the lives of those around us.


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