This Is the Old Testament is part of a twelve-week thematic overview of the entire Bible. Each day we’ll read a thematic selection from a different book or two of the Bible, along with supplemental passages that show how the theme of that day’s main reading is found throughout Scripture. We’ll also read a brief summary of each book and a reflection on how the book fits into the larger story of Scripture. This week, we’ll finish the Historical Books and move into the genre of Wisdom Literature.
What Is Ezra? The book of Ezra records the Jewish people’s return to Jerusalem from their Babylonian captivity, the ongoing rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, and the people’s recommitment to the law, led by the scribe Ezra.
What Is Nehemiah? The books of Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one book, documenting the rebuilding of Jerusalem once the exiles returned from captivity. The book of Nehemiah records Nehemiah’s leadership in the rebuilding of the walls in Jerusalem. It includes an exhortation to remain faithful to the Lord despite opposition and calls Israel to return to their God in their restored capital.
How Ezra & Nehemiah Fit Into the Story: The events in the books of Ezra & Nehemiah—rebuilding the temple, stabilizing Jerusalem, and developing the Jewish community—all played key roles that lead to the life and ministry of Jesus recorded in the Gospels. The role of the rebuilt walls was to protect a functional temple. The temple may not have been as magnificent as Solomon’s, but it would serve as the central place of worship for the Jewish people for centuries until Christ removed the need for a physical temple.
1. Throughout the New Testament, the Church and its people are referred to as the temple of God. How does the value the people of Israel placed on the temple in both Ezra and Nehemiah change the way you view both the Church and yourself today?
2. How does today’s reading shape your understanding of the story of redemption?
Take time to reflect on your responses and share what you are learning with others in the community in the comments.