In Daniel, we read of King Cyrus of Persia conquering Babylon, and at the very end of 2 Chronicles, we read of Cyrus’ decree to let the Israelites return to their land to rebuild their temple. Today, we begin the book of Ezra which continues this redemptive story of God securing His people.
This story – of God creating a people to call His own – is the broad sweeping story of the whole Bible. Both of today’s passages fit snugly into God’s redemptive story!
Ezra begins with the people returning to the land of Judah. King Cyrus, moved by the sovereignty of God, not only allows – but equips – the Jews to return to their homeland. He also sends along the vessels of the temple originally confiscated by Nebuchadnezzar so many years before. This is a new beginning for God’s people. The 2nd Exodus! God bending the will of King Cyrus proves all of the prophesies from Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Isaiah true. God would restore his people!
But we know that the return of the exiles to Jerusalem was only a partial fulfillment of God’s plan for his people. Only in Christ are all the prophesies fulfilled. And with the coming of Christ came the ushering in of a new covenant…
Paul writes of this new covenant in today’s passage from 2 Corinthians. Rather than being a covenant of the law – which leads to death, it is a covenant of the Spirit. The old covenant led to death because the people had no power within themselves to keep the law. Whereas Jesus mediates the new covenant by fulfilling ALL the requirements of the old and then sending His Spirit to empower us to obey.
What a glorious story! God is creating a people for Himself! But we are still in the middle of the story… Just as the exiles looked forward to the day where all God’s promises would be fulfilled, we too look forward to Christ’s return and the glorious end of the story!
Why do look forward to the end? Because it is then that God will make all things new!