NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, Lifeway publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from The Gospel Project curriculum.
Bible Passage: Ezra 1–2
- What difference should God’s providence, His control of all things, make in how we view history?
- How should God’s care for the details of His worship move our hearts to worship Him better?
- How might God’s unchanging nature encourage you during hard times?
Food for Thought:
After the Israelites spent 70 years in exile, away from their homeland, the Lord brought upheaval to kingdoms of the world, resulting in His people going home. As the Lord had foretold through the interpretation of Daniel, and in keeping with a previous prophetic interpretation of one of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, King Belshazzar and the Babylonians were overthrown by the Persians.
The result was a change in policy toward those who had been deported from Judah. True to His law, His covenant and His word, the God of all grace would bring His chosen people back to the land of promise — the land that He had given to Abraham and that Israel had settled during the days of Joshua.
The Lord, in keeping with His word through the prophet Jeremiah, stirred up the heart of King Cyrus of Persia to issue a decree allowing the Israelites of the 70-year exile to return to their homeland. And not just return, but to go home with the express purpose of rebuilding the temple of the Lord that Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed decades earlier.
But the Lord didn’t stop there. He also roused the hearts of people among His exiles to answer this call to go home and rebuild the temple. Plus, the Lord worked in the hearts of the exiles’ pagan neighbors to supply them for their journey and the work ahead of them. The Lord did this to bring His people home and to restore their proper worship of Him.
Since Adam and Eve’s first sin, all humans have been separated and exiled from God and need deliverance from the consequences of our sin. Jesus came to end this exile once and for all, bring His people home, and restore our freedom to worship God in spirit and in truth.
Because we as believers in Jesus Christ have been freed from sin and have experienced God’s kindness leading us to repentance and faith, we must make worship and obedience our first priority. Consequently, others may see the goodness of the Lord in and through us, hear our proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus, and come to faith in Him themselves. They too may be saved and begin their journey home.
The Gospel Project
The Gospel Project is a chronological, Christ-centered study for kids, students and adults. The Bible is not a collection of stories. It is one story of God’s plan to rescue His people from sin and death. It is the story of redemption, the gospel message of Jesus Christ. More information can be found at Lifeway.com/gospelproject.