Monday, September 17, 2012

The Return

So far this series has covered:
The Patriarchs
The Exodus
The Wandering
The Conquest
The Judges
The Kings
        "    - the Divided Kingdom
                the Prophets
The Exile

And today, the next event - The Return from exile.

The History of How this Happened:
722BC - Israel falls to Assyria
586BC - Judah falls to Babylon
562 BC - Nebuchadnezzer dies - he was an incredible leader, and immediately the empire begins to crumble
539 BC - Babylon falls without a fight to Cyrus (the Great) - Persian.  The city was so disorganized that they didn't fight, just fell.  He didn't destroy the city, just occupied it.
538 BC - Cyrus signs the decree stating that all Jews can go back home if they so desire.
537 BC - The 1st. return - Zerubbabel - roughly 50,000 Jews go back to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple
536 BC - temple reconstruction begins.  For about 10 years nothing much done after the start due to a lot of opposition and discouragement.  Around 520 BC the prophets Haggai and Zachariah rise up to encourage the people to resume repairs.
516 BC - the temple is completed - much weeping amongst the people - some from great joy because of the miraculous return to their homeland (the younger ones) - some in great sorrow for remembrance of the glory of Solomon's temple (the older generation)
458 BC - the 2nd. return - under Ezra
445 BC - the 3rd. return - Nehemiah
Esther - was during these returns but she stayed in Babylon.  Many Jews stayed in Babylon instead of going back.  These are referred to as the "dispersia" in the New Testament

4 Events Related To the Return

1.  The letter of Jeremiah - written to the exiles in Babylon (these exiles thought they were going to return home right away).  So, Jeremiah writes a letter to them.  Jer. 29:1, 4-10, 11-14 = exile going to last 70 years

2.  The Vision of Ezekiel who was living in exile in Babylon - Ezek. 37:1-14 - saying the same as Jeremiah.
Also, "....when all hope is gone, I will bring you back, and then you will know that I am the LORD!"

How???  It's 900 miles back, 4 month journey, no permission, no means, no support....???
Answer:  Exra 1:1-11 - Cyrus authorizes the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, encourages financing, and returns the articles stolen from the temple

#3.  The Prophecy of Isaiah - Isa. 44:24-28, 45:1-7 - God = power behind Cyrus.  Vs. 28 - prophecy about Cyrus - written 150 years before Cyrus was born.

#4.  The Prayer of Daniel - in exile in Babylon - taken in the first deportation.  Has been in exile 66 years when he writes this.  Read the scroll of Jeremiah that said exile would last 70 years, so he realized that was coming shortly. 
Daniel 9:1-7 (a), Daniel 9:17-19 -not because we are righteous, but because You are a merciful and great God.

Lessons:  God is faithful, wise, long suffering, goes to any lengths to draw his people to Him.

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