The books of Ezra and Nehemiah detail the RETURN from the FIRST EXILE /BANISHMENT of the Jewish people from their seventy year captivity in Babylon, back to the land of Judah (Jerusalem).
Jeremiah 25: 11 This entire land (Jerusalem/Judah) will be a place of ruins and an object of horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon for seventy years.
Jeremiah 29:10 “For this is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
14 And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.
Through the Prophet Jeremiah, YHWH promised that Judah’s exile in Babylon would not last forever. He would bring them back to the Promised Land after a period of seventy years.
Jeremiah 25 details this 70 year exile; however, please notice how the wording changes in verse 14…YHWH is going to deliver Israel, now not just from Babylon, but from “ALL THE NATIONS where they were sent into exile (the FIRST EXILE).” The Jewish people were taken captive into Babylon between the years 605BC and 587BC during 3 different sieges against Jerusalem. However, verse 14 has an END-TIMES connection, and is speaking more about the Jewish Captivity after 70AD, when Rome destroyed Jerusalem and sent the Jewish people into the SECOND EXILE around the globe for nearly 2000 years, RETURNING to her homeland in the year 1948. Bible prophecy is like that, in that Multiple fulfillments can be addressed in a single prophecy.
Perhaps you have heard how 1948 was a very prophetic year, fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies of Isaiah 11:11 and Isaiah 66:8…Prophecies that the Israelites (Jewish people) would RETURN to their homeland “a second time”?
Isaiah 11:11: Then it will happen on that day that the Lord
Will again recover with His hand the second time
The remnant of His people who will remain,
From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath,
And from the islands of the sea.
Isaiah 66:8: Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children.
The RETURN from the BABYLONIAN exile (FIRST EXILE) to the Promised Land (Judah) happened around 536 – 538BC, according to the Decree of Persian King Cyrus. This period of time was recorded in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. These two books of the Bible were thought to have been a single book at one time. They go together like “a hand in a glove”, and speak about Israel’s return to Jerusalem after the 70 year exile in Babylon. After 70 years, they were permitted to RETURN to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the Temple exactly as Jeremiah had prophesied.
Upon Israel’s return, they discovered that their neighbors were very hostile to them. It is no different today. Even though many of the neighboring nations have recently come together in the Abraham Accords to “normalize” relations with Israel, Psalm 83 tells us that this is a deception. They secretly conspire together to drive Israel into the sea so that the name of Israel will be remembered no more.
In 538BC, Israel also had some pretty severe neighbor problems. The Samaritans, a mix of Hebrew and paganism, initially requested that they would like to participate in the REbuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple.
Note: 2 Kings, chapter 17 tells us the identity of the Samaritans. They lived in northern Israel (Samaria), and were actually foreign pagan peoples (Babylonians and other peoples), who had been brought into the area to “fill the gap” after Assyria invaded Samaria and deported/exiled the 10 northern Tribes of Israel. Upon moving into the land, the Samaritans were killed by lions; therefore they felt that it was necessary to take up YHWH worship, in addition to their own pagan worship. It was customary in those days to give homage to “the god of the land” in which you dwelt. However, YHWH is NOT just the “god of the land”..HE is the ONLY TRUE GOD, THE CREATOR of everything that exists, the great I AM, and HE demands to be worshipped as such!
2 Kings 17:24: Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the sons of Israel. So they took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities
2 Kings 17:33 They (Samaritans) feared the Lord (YHWH), yet they were serving their own gods in accordance with the custom of the nations from among whom they had been taken into exile.
Because the Samaritans mixed worshiping the TRUE GOD with the worship of idols, the Jewish people refused their help. Idolatry was the primary reason Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in the first place. The last thing the Jewish “returnees” wanted was to begin this death cycle again, inviting pagan worship into the Jewish Temple.
Question: Will Israel refuse help from her current neighbors to rebuild Jerusalem and the THIRD Temple after Jerusalem is attacked and destroyed (Psalm 83/Ezekiel 38)?
Insulted and angry, their neighbors did everything they could to thwart, slow down, and even stop the REbuilding of the Jewish Temple and Jerusalem.
But, with the help of YHWH, the restoration and rebuilding began. The Jewish people who returned to the land were able to repair the altar and foundation of the Temple by approximately 537BC. However, the Samaritan opposition brought the construction to a halt a year later, in 536BC. The Temple project languished for about 16 years until c520BC.
Ezra 4:24: Thus the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem ceased, and it was discontinued until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
God then sent the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah to Jerusalem to motivate the Jewish people to complete construction of the temple. They played a key role 🔑in rousing the elders and people under Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the high priest to complete the building program. The tone of the book (Haggai) is very straightforward because the prophet is urging the people to hurry up! Build the Temple! Scholars think that Haggai was seventy years old when he brought his message to the people of Jerusalem. Haggai and Zechariah also wrote many END-TIME prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled!
In addition to neighbor trouble, the people had stopped building the Temple so that they could build their own houses. They prioritized their own homes over the house of God.
Haggai 1:9:“You start an ambitious project, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away. Why?” declares the Lord of armies. “It is because of My house which remains desolate, while each of you runs to his own house.
The Jewish people had acted selfishly, and were more concerned about building their own homes than the house of God. They forgot to honor that God that blessed them.
We have to pause this story for just a moment to share what the Lord has laid on our hearts regarding the books of Nehemiah and Ezra. We are talking about the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel and also the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple. We’ve discussed the neighbor problems, the Temple lying in ruins, and that the Jewish leaders and “returnees” were more concerned about building their own homes than building a house for the Lord.
In this same manner….Look at the Church. Yes, like Israel, the Church has numerous EXTERNAL ENEMIES who seek her DESTRUCTION! At the same time, God’s NEW COVENANT house lies in ruins. The walls of the Church are desolate while MANY Pastors, preachers and teachers completely IGNORE this FACT, and instead are working hard to build their own “houses” (ministries/wealth/names for themselves). Some Christians remain in these large, apostate Churches because they enjoy having their ears tickled. However, many have left Christianity altogether because they can easily find better music, better coffee, more “fun” outside the church. There are major Christian denominations that have literally split over whether or not to hold fast to Biblical truth or be “progressive”/ moving with “the times”. Many Churches embrace the LGBTQ agenda because they are afraid they will lose their 501C3 tax exempt status (money) if they preach truth.
Thankfully, there are still Christians who love the Lord and continue to cling to the unchanging truth of God’s Word.
The walls represent God’s protective hedge…keeping out paganism and protecting TRUTH. The majority of the Church has made EXACTLY the same mistake that ancient Israel made time and again, which is to invite pagan worship INTO the sacred Temple (our bodies, our Churches), attempting to appease our neighbors and look like the world. This is why only two Churches in the book of Revelation do not receive a rebuke from Jesus.
When we wrote this post only a week or so ago, we had no idea how deep the rabbit hole goes regarding the degradation and Corruption that has invaded many Churches that call themselves Christian. Please read Jude 1 for details on how God views those who commit evil in HIS NAME and what will happen to them.
It is being reported that there are large Churches, especially in the MASSIVE pseudo-Christian cults like the Catholic Church and the mormon cult– who are committing great evils such as human traficking, child abuse, including satanic worship. A former Mormon speaks about what he calls “SRA” (Satanic ritual abuse) that he claims is quite prevalent in the mormon cult with “thousands and thousands and thousands of victims”. Apparently, these accusations were brought before the elders of the Mormon Cult and the authorities in Salt Lake City, Utah…… and they swept them under the rug!!! 😱 There have also been allegations of SRA (Satanic Ritual Abuse of children) reported in the Catholic Church as well – and that the Church hierarchy has swept the majority of these under the rug, giving lip service to a few!!!
Romans 2:24: For “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,” just as it is written.
Jude 1:12: These are the ones who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, like shepherds caring only for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, churning up their own shameful deeds like dirty foam; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of darkness has been reserved forever.
But….there is good news among all this bleak news. As we will see below, Israel LISTENED to the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, and they OBEYED the LORD, and resumed work on GOD’S TEMPLE and JERUSALEM! As we will also see below, they even separated themselves from the pagans in the lands and even in their own homes, setting aside their worship as sanctified unto the LORD…worshipping ONLY YHWH. Ultimately TRUTH was RESTORED to the Jewish people (at least for a time, until they rejected their MESSIAH). It is our PRAYER that YHWH raise up His PEOPLE OF THE NEW COVENANT, His End-Time army, to REBUILD the torn down walls, SEPARATE the REMNANT CHURCH (AKA “CHURCH OF PHILADELPHIA”) from the PAGAN customs of the land, and sanctify it unto GOD….thus RESTORING TRUTH so that HIS REMNANT CHURCH can be an EFFECTIVE WITNESS to the GLORY OF GOD prior to the RAPTURE and JESUS’ RETURN!
We NEW COVENANT BELIEVERS need to have compassion for the suffering of PEOPLE…but we should never sacrifice truth on the altar of friendship because kindness without truth is hypocrisy, but truth without compassion is merciless and cruel. The truth of YHWH is that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and the penalty for sin is permanent, spiritual death. Sin brings suffering and death, which is why God calls us to REPENT (stop sinning and go the other direction)! This is the stark, cold reality of what faces every human being who has ever lived. But, the kindness, compassion, and MERCY of God (YHWH) is that He sent His own SON….JESUS CHRIST, the Lamb of God to pay the penalty that NONE of us will ever want to pay. ✝🤗
The GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST (GOOD NEWS!!!)…
Jesus the CHRIST (MESSIAH/ANOINTED ONE)…
- Born of a virgin into the likeness of human flesh (God took on the likeness of human flesh) about 2000 year ago
- Lived a sinless life (the only ONE who could do it).
- HUMBLED HIMSELF
- Was nailed to a Cross because man does not like to hear that our deeds are evil
- Shed His Precious blood and DIED
- Went into the belly of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights, fullfilling the sign of Jonah
- Was raised on the 3rd day in accordance with the Old Testament Scriptures
- Is seated AS GOD, at the RIGHT HAND of GOD THE FATHER
- Is coming again to judge the living and the dead because ALL AUTHORITY has been given TO JESUS CHRIST.
WHOSOEVER BELIEVES (TRUSTS IN/CLINGS TO) the Gospel of Jesus Christ (True Belief naturally includes REPENTANCE from the willful desire to sin) will have their debt PAID IN FULL AND RECEIVE EVERLASTING LIFE.
Returning to our story…
When the Jewish “returnees” HEARD the words of the prophets HAGGAI and ZECHARIAH, they REPENTED and OBEYED!!!
Haggai 1:12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the words of Haggai the prophet, just as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people showed reverence for the Lord.
The SECOND Jewish Temple was completed on Adar 3, which is thought to have been March 12, 515BC on the Roman Calendar, or six weeks before the Passover.
Praise the Lord, the Temple was complete….but as we have discovered in America and also in modern day ISRAEL that walls are important. Even though the Temple was complete, there were still numerous problems with Israel’s HOSTILE neighbors. At this time, every great city had protective walls surrounding it; however, the walls and gates in Jerusalem were still in severe disrepair.
Enter Nehemiah, cup bearer to the Persian King
Historically, a cupbearer was a high-ranking official in charge of serving the king. It was primarily the responsibility of a cupbearer to serve the wine to the royal table. Since kings were concerned about plots to poison them, cupbearers had to guard the cup carefully and would sometimes taste the drink before serving it to ensure it was safe.
In the 20th year of King Artaxerxes I of Persia (c. 445 B.C.), Nehemiah was among the JEWISH PEOPLE still exiled in Shushan, a.k.a. Susa, and was cup-bearer to the king of Persia, working in the royal palace. When he learned that the walls of Jerusalem were still broken down, the gates of the city were burned and the Israelites living there were in great distress and reproach, he asked the king for permission to return to Judah and rebuild the city and its walls.
King Artaxerxes appointed Nehemiah governor of Judah, now a Persian province, and allowed him to return and rebuild the walls of the city of Jerusalem.
Even though the opposition from Israel’s neighbors was fierce, Nehemiah’s “walls project”, took only 52 days to complete! This was a miracle! The walls and gates that SEPARATED the Jewish people from their HOSTILE PAGAN neighbors were completely repaired and restored by Elul 25, which is also thought to be the first day of CREATION when God said ‘LET THERE BE LIGHT”….and GOD SEPARATED the LIGHT from the DARKNESS…
Genesis 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 And the earth was a formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness He called “night.” And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
The Jewish people FINALLY had a Temple in which to worship and offer sacrifices to YHWH, as well as protective walls around the city that SEPARATED them (set apart for a HOLY PURPOSE) from their HOSTILE NEIGHBORS, but that wasn’t the end of the story. The Jewish people were physically restored in the land, the city and Temple were restored...but Spiritually, they were lacking. They were ready for FULL restoration, both PHYSICAL and SPIRITUAL.
We discover in Nehemiah Chapter 7, that Nehemiah discovered the “book of Geneology”, and that God put it into his heart to assemble the people, the nobles, the officials, and other people that returned according to their geneology. This enabled Ezra and Nehemiah to identify the priests, the Levites, the singers, the gate-keepers, and Temple servants.
Nehemiah gathered them at the great WATER GATE, and they asked Ezra the Scribe to read from the book of the LAW OF MOSES that God had given to Israel.
Nehemiah 8:2: Then Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it before the public square which was in front of the Water Gate, from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.
Imagine that. 😮 The people stood for HOURS listening ATTENTIVELY to the book of the law of Moses. When we sit for 20 minutes in Church listening to a sermon, we get restless.
The RESTORATION to the God of Israel that, for many HAD only SEEMED LIKE a series of beautiful STORIES TOLD to them by their fathers and grandfathers while living in Exile in Babylon, was NOW becoming a DREAM FULFILLED! Standing in their homeland, preparing to resume AUTHENTIC worship of YHWH. The people were so moved..they were WEEPING!!!😭
Nehemiah 8:9 Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the Law.
10 Then he said to them, “Go, eat the festival foods, drink the sweet drinks, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your refuge.” 11 So the Levites silenced all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 Then all the people went away to eat, drink, to send portions, and to celebrate a great feast, because they understood the words which had been made known to them.
The people were SO MOVED at hearing the words of the Law…they were WEEPING. Can you imagine? Can you imagine people who had SINNED, been PUNISHED by God and taken CAPTIVE into EXILE in Babylon for 70 years, then about 80 years after the first exiles had returned to Jerusalem, celebrating this day that some of them had only dreamed about. God’s wrath was complete. They were HOME!!!
Now, let’s fast forward to today, to the RETURN from the SECOND EXILE/BANISHMENT. The return of the Jewish people TO THEIR LAND after the destruction of the second Temple by the Roman armies in 70AD..took not 70 years, but nearly 2000 years! The Physical restoration of the land began in 1948.
But the SPIRITUAL restoration has yet to happen, and will only happen when the Jews are once again WEEPING as they FINALLY recognize their TRUE MESSIAH – YAHUSHUA HAMASHIACH, JESUS THE CHRIST. For the majority of the Jewish people, this will happen AFTER the Great Tribulation when the entire world turns AGAINST them. Jesus Christ, accompanied by His TRANSFORMED NEW COVENANT BELIEVERS (ARMIES IN HEAVEN CLOTHED IN FINE LINEN), 😇WILL RETURN to earth to RESCUE Israel from their ENEMIES just in time!
Revelation 19: 11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many crowns; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.
13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”👑
The same prophets, ZECHARIAH and HAGGAI who encouraged Israel to rebuild the second Temple and the walls both prophesied of ISRAEL’S FINAL SPIRITUAL RESTORATION when JEW and GENTILE will come together as the ISRAEL OF GOD.
Zechariah 12: 10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and of pleading, so that they will look at Me whom they pierced; and they will mourn for Him, like one mourning for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.
Haggai 2: 20 Then the word of the Lord came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying, 21 “Speak to Zerubbabel governor of Judah, saying, ‘I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. 22 And I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariots and their riders, and the horses and their riders will go down, every one by the sword of another.’
23 ‘On that day,’ declares the Lord of armies, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, My servant,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,’” declares the Lord of armies.
Zechariah 14: . 3 Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. 4 On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west forming a very large valley. Half of the mountain will move toward the north, and the other half toward the south.
6 On that day there will be no light; the luminaries will die out. 7 For it will be a unique day which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at the time of evening there will be light.
8 And on that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter.
Haggai and Zechariah’s prophecies above aren’t about Zerubbabel, the 6th century Governor of Judea. They are about the MESSIAH YAHUSHUA. There are MESSIANIC undertones in this verse because we know that God did not overthrow kingdoms and nations at the time of the building of the 2nd Temple. Hagaii was speaking of a future event.
What do we see now? 👓 A dwindling church (Spiritual Israel) with crumbling walls and pagan customs who wants to divorce themselves from their Jewish roots that include YHWH the Father, who never changes. Many christians falsely think that yhwh (god of the “old testament” is a mean god, and is not the same god as jesus christ – they are wrong!!!) Christians embrace God’s mercy and love but fail to recognize His Holiness and Righteousness, along with HIS RIGHTEOUS STANDARD for LIVING.
What else do we see? 👓 A physical Israel whose nation is being restored and revitalized physically, but who still REFUSES to RECOGNIZE their MESSIAH YAHUSHUA (Jesus). Like many Christians, they ALSO do not recognize that Jews and Christians worship the SAME GOD. They think Christians worship a “different god, or “many gods””. They are WRONG! In the land of Physical Israel, God’s jewel in the desert, what was once a desert wasteland is fast becoming a blooming oasis.🌴 There is prosperity in Israel, there is BEAUTY in Israel, which is one of the reasons that her neighbors all want “a piece of her”. But, spiritually they have not been RESTORED. JEWS recognize God’s HOLINESS and RIGHTEOUSNESS, but fail to recognize HIS MERCY through HIS MESSIAH YAHUSHUA (YHWH’S SALVATION), ONE MESSIAH who comes TWICE…NOT two messiahs who come once. These “two false messiahs” tht the Jewish people are currently expecting will be the antichrist/false prophet duo that is soon to come on the scene.
At the same time, we see👓 a narcissistic, pagan, godless world spinning out of control, heading deeper and deeper into the end-times with the earth itself GROANING under the weight of the sin of its inhabitants.🐍
Something’s GOTTA GIVE. Trials and Tribulation are coming, but so is RESTORATION!!!
Think what an incredible WITNESS for YHWH we will be when JEW and GENTILE come together as ONE in MESSIAH JESUS!!!
Ezekiel 37:15: The word of the Lord came again to me, saying, 16 “Now you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, ‘For Judah (synonymous for JEWS) and for the sons of Israel, his companions’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim (synonymous for GENTILE BELIEVERS) and all the house of Israel, his companions.’ 17 Then put them together for yourself one to another into one stick, so that they may become one in your hand.
Isaiah 42:1: “Behold, My Servant (YAHUSHUA), whom I uphold;
My chosen one in whom My soul delights.
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the nation
“I am the Lord, I have called You in righteousness,
I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You,
And I will appoint You as a covenant (THE NEW COVENANT) to the people,
As a light to the nations (GENTILES),
7 To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the dungeon
And those who dwell in darkness from the prison. (Jesus came to set the captives FREE from SIN, HALLELUJAH!)
8 I am the Lord (yhwh/YAHUWHA), that is My name;
I will not give My glory to another, (YAHUSHUA IS NOT ANOTHER. HIS NAME MEANS THE SALVATION OF YHWH. YAHUSHUA CAME IN HIS FATHER’S NAME, HE HEALED IN IS FATHER’S NAME, AND HE IS GLORIFIED AND IS ONE WITH THE FATHER YHWH (YAHUWHA).
Nor My praise to idols.
9 Behold, the former things have come to pass,
Now I declare new things;
Before they sprout I proclaim them to you.”
Still, this is only the PHYSICAL regeneration of Israel, similar to when Nehemiah and Zerubbabel built Jerusalem, the Temple, and rebuilt the WALLS. Israel’s Spiritual RESTORATION is yet to come!