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 also to put it in writing:
2 “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. 3 Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. 4 And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’”
5 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. 6 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.
7 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.[a] 8 Cyrus king of Persia had them brought by Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah.
9 This was the inventory:
gold dishes 30
silver dishes 1,000
silver pans 29
10 gold bowls 30
matching silver bowls 410
other articles 1,000
11 In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and of silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along with the exiles when they came up from Babylon to Jerusalem.Ezra 1:1-11
Have you ever had to start over because of a life change, a disaster, or a relocation? I truly cannot imagine what it must feel like to be a refugee even though I have had the pleasure of knowing some refugees. Most of the start overs in my life have been due to choices which I have willingly made. In some cases, starting over may bring about new opportunities and a better life. This is not the case for everyone but the hope is this restart in life will result in positive changes. That is the definitely the hope of immigrants, people who change careers, and individuals who redefine themselves.
Today, our reading presents a starting over for the Jewish people. These people have lived in exile since King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took them captive and his army destroyed the temple, Jerusalem, and all the Judean cities.
Many years passed and now King Cyrus was in charge. King Cyrus states that God has told him to have a temple built in Jerusalem. Sobhe gives the decree that the Jewish people are to build the temple with assistance of their non-Jewish neighbors. He even orders that the gold and silver items taken from the original temple be returned. The Jewish people are being given the opportunity to start over.
Starting over can be rather difficult. Just as the Jews had to work hard to build the temple again, we may have to work hard when given the opportunity at a new beginning. The important point to remember is that we do not start over alone. God was the reason the Jews were rebuilding the temple. Every step of the way God provided them the necessary resources and the support which they would need. God does the same for us. When we need to start over, either by choice or not, turning to God for help will benefit our efforts.