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May 23 Today’s Reading: Ezra 2-3
“His mercy endureth forever!”
Though Ezra 1 was included in our reading schedule yesterday, I purposefully omitted any comment on that chapter in yesterday’s meditation, because I thought it better to keep our thoughts on the book of Ezra together. As we read these ten chapters and meditate upon them over the next few days, I remind you that we should be on the lookout in each chapter and verse for our Lord Jesus, of whom the whole book of Ezra and all the Book of God speaks. Only as we see Christ in the Scriptures are they profitable to our souls and able by the blessing of God the Holy Ghost to make us wise unto salvation.
This is he of whom Moses and the prophets did write. This is he whose day the patriarchs saw and in whom they rejoiced in hope. And this is he for whose sake Jehovah declared himself to Cyrus two hundred years before Cyrus was born that he had called him by name and commissioned him to deliver (Isaiah 45:14). This is he whose redemption we must have, to whom the fathers looked in faith, whose faith we follow, considering the end of their conversation, — Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
The book of Ezra opens with the proclamation of Cyrus, king of Persia, to permit the Jews to return from their captivity in Babylon to Jerusalem. The beginning of Cyrus’ reign was the end of Israel’s 70th year in Babylonian captivity; and their deliverance by Cyrus at God’s appointed time both confirmed the word of God concerning the time of Jerusalem’s desolation (Jeremiah 25:11-12), and typified the deliverance of our souls in God’s salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.
God called Cyrus his anointed (Isaiah 45:1) to call our attention to the fact this man was raised up as a special type of our Lord Jesus Christ, Jehovah’s Anointed, whom he raised up from everlasting to deliver his prisoners out of prison, and them that sat in darkness out of the prison house (Isaiah 45:4-7).
Ezra 2 lists the names of those captives who were returned to Jerusalem after their seventy year captivity in Babylon. Though cast down for their sins, they were not cast off by God. Jehovah was still their God; and his covenant engagements were not broken. Interpret this spiritually. It speaks of God’s elect, the true children of promise in Christ. We are the children of God. Our record is on high. Our names are written in heaven, in the Lamb’s book of life. As Israel was saved and brought home, because of God’s covenant promises to Abraham, everlastingly certain and sure are the covenant engagements of Jehovah with his dear Son. Every chosen one purchased and forgiven by the precious blood of Christ shall be brought home to God, “because his mercy endureth forever!”
Though they were poor, though they were surrounded by countless foes, though they lived in perilous times, these captives set free set up God’s altar at Jerusalem, offered sacrifices according to the law, and worshipped the Lord God who had preserved them in captivity and set them free at the appointed time of love. Let us in these dark days and perilous times follow their example. — “We have an Altar” forever established by God himself, by whom we draw near to God. Our Altar is God’s own Son, Jesus Christ our Savior. He is the sum and substance of every altar, sacrifice and priest, the temple, its foundation and top-stone, brought forth with shoutings of grace, grace unto it. On this Altar alone we lay ourselves and our sacrifices. On this Altar alone we worship God. On this Altar alone we are accepted of God, and accepted forever, — “because his mercy endureth forever!”