In the first year of Cyrus’ reign over Persia, he decreed that the Jews could return from their captivity in Babylon to Israel, and rebuild the temple. It was an amazing fulfillment of the prophecy made by Isaiah before Cyrus was even in the picture:
[The LORD] says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd,
And he shall perform all My pleasure,
Saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,”
And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”‘
Isaiah 44:28, NKJV
The first few chapters of Ezra tell of the captives who returned to their homeland, restored the altar, and began work on rebuilding the temple.
But their task was fiercely opposed by the peoples settled around them, and their progress was slow indeed. Cyrus lived, reigned, and died, and still the temple was far from complete. Only the foundation was laid.
When a new king took over, Israel’s enemies pressed their case and persuaded the new ruler to halt any further work on the temple. By force of arms, the Jews were stopped, and that was that for a long time after. Continue reading
I was probably five or six years old. It was a bright new morning, a little earlier than usual for me, when I slipped downstairs to what was then our little schoolroom (for those of you who don’t know, I was homeschooled). Here there were two little desks, one for me and one for my brother, and a big classic chalkboard that took up most of the longest wall.
I don’t remember how often my mom actually used that chalkboard, but it does stand out in my memory in this particular story. I was the first one downstairs, but to my surprise, there was writing on the chalkboard already.
It looked like instructions for a treasure hunt or something!
I started to read, and it went something like this:
Three years ago, when Life Action Ministries came to my church for revival meetings, I remember someone commenting on Jesus’ messages to the churches in Revelation. “If Jesus wrote you a letter today, what would He write?” he asked.
That question has always stuck in my mind. What would Jesus write to me? To you? To America? To the world? Continue reading