After the Israelites spent decades in exile, they finally were able to return home. Due to comfort and convenience, some Israelites never returned. A remnant came back to the land to reestablish the nation and await the Messiah.
Life In Exile
- Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther conclude the historical section of the Old Testament, and they highlight Israel’s return to their land.
- Some of the prophets speak to their return and the post-return problems.
Rebuilding the Promised Land
- King Cyrus led Persia to capture Babylon in 538 BC. Shortly after, he issued a decree to allow Jews to return to their homeland (Ezra 1:2-4).
- Under the leadership of Zerubbabel (direct line from King David), the first task, amidst great opposition, when they return is to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1-6).
- The prophet Haggai addresses those who are more concerned with reestablishing their house than God’s house: “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” (Hag. 1:4).
- 57 years after the temple is finished, Ezra, from the lineage of Aaron and skilled in the Law, was allowed to go back to Jerusalem to reinstate the religious community (Ezra 7-12).
- God shows his sovereignty over the nations and his keeping of Israel by placing Esther as queen for “such a team as this” (Est. 4:14).
- Nehemiah is sent to fortify the city by rebuilding the walls in order to establish the nation against continual opposition (Neh. 1:3).
- Nehemiah proves himself to be a great leader in how he motivates the Israelites to finish the job.
- On one such occasion, he told these builders to go to battle and stationed their families behind them so they would fight with fervor (Neh. 4:13-14).
- After the wall is complete, Israel settles into the new normal and yet become complacent in their worship yet again.
- The prophet Malachi rebukes the people and calls for reform.
- In the final words of the Old Testament, Malachi prophesies of the Day of the Lord coming (Mal. 4:1), and that one is coming to prepare the way (Mal. 4:5).
- After this book, the page after represents 400 years of silence from God.
15 Key Words