In our study of Ezra chapter one, we look at God's promise of an open door for the return of His people to Jerusalem. In this, we see a picture of the work of Jesus Christ in opening the door to heaven and our salvation.
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing:
This book is a historical book and, at this time, God's people were in captivity. The prophet Jeremiah had spent years and many tears warning the people that, if they did not repent, they would be taken into captivity. He also told them that their captivity would last seventy years and that is what this verse refers to. They did not repent and so God's presence left the temple and it was destroyed with the people taken into captivity. We see that God has opened the door for the people to return to Jerusalem by speaking to the heart of King Cyrus.
'This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: "The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you - may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. And the people of any place where survivors may now be living are to provide him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem."'
During this time, King Cyrus had come to know of God through the prophet Daniel. The phrase "God of heaven" began in the book of Daniel. We see, in his proclamation, the authority that the king has to open the door for their return and the fact that he did not compel the people to go but instead gave them the opportunity. This is a picture of how Jesus opened the doors of heaven to give us the opportunity to go there to be with Him. We also see that all of God's people were required to provide the materials to build the temple. This is a picture of God's desire for all Christians to work together to bring people into His kingdom.
Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites - everyone whose heart God had moved - prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.
We notice that it was God who prompted the people to go and rebuild the temple. This is a picture of the way we come to salvation in that we are called by God and respond to His call to our hearts. As Christians, our job in sharing the gospel is much the same as the servants that carried Cyrus' proclamation.
All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings.
In this verse we see that a movement of God is accompanied by the provision of God. We see that God's people did not leave for the work in Jerusalem empty handed. This is the same type of thing that happened when His people were brought up out of Egypt (see Exodus 12). The same thing applies to us today who are in Christ. If God has called you to do something, then, you should see the provision of the resources that are required. Too many these days are talking of their great ministry but then begging for someone else to provide the resources to do it and that is not the pattern for a great movement of God.
Moreover King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god. Cyrus king of Persia had them brought by Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. This was the inventory: gold dishes 30 silver dishes 1,000 silver pans 29 gold bowls 30 matching silver bowls 410 other articles 1,000 In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along when the exiles came up from Babylon to Jerusalem.
In this passage we see not only the provision of God but the favor of God as the king gave back the things for service in the temple. The provision that we saw before was from surviving Jews while this favor is from the king who is a Gentile. In this, we see a picture of the coming church as described in Acts where Jew and Gentile work together for the kingdom of God.