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Old Testament Overview - Ezra, Nehemiah, And Esther

Ezra: A pattern for restoration--the return under Zerubbabel (1-6) and the return under Ezra (7-10)

Key Events:  The return under Zerubbabel (1-6) (Zerubabbel was of the royal line of David. See Matthew 1:12-13  See also I Chron. 3:17-19; Zech. 4)  (Zerubbabel means "seed of" or born of Babel.)

The beginning of the return under Zerubbabel (1-2:70)  (1) King Cyrus allows Israel to return. (1:1-11) See Isa. 44:28-45:13  See also II Chron. 36:22-23; Jer. 25:11-12, 29:10-11 (Cyrus' decree 1:1-4)  (The people living in Israel were required by Cyrus to provide those who were returning from exile with "silver and gold." 1:4)  (It sounds too good to be true?  Compare this with Eph. 1:3-14)  (Cyrus returns the gold and silver articles of the temple. 1:7-11 See II Chron. 36:10; Jer. 27:16-22, 28:2-3(2) A list of returnees (2) (They gave gold and silver to rebuild the temple. 2:68-69)

Rebuilding the temple (3:1-6:22)  (1) The rebuilding of the temple and the Altar begin. (3:1-13)  (Sacrifices on the altar resume under the leadership of Joshua (or Jeshua) the High Priest. 3:1-6 See Haggai. 1:1-2, 14, 2:2, 4; Zech. 3:1-10, 6:9-11)(As the rebuilding of ones' life begins in the heart and with the cross, Israel rebuilds the heart of their system of belief and worship—the temple and the Altar.)  (The rebuilding of the temple begins. 3:7-9)  (There is great praise when the foundation of the temple is laid. 3:10-13) (2) The enemies of Israel attempt to discourage them (4:1-5)  (They approach them first as friends—wolves in sheep's clothing. 4:1-3)  (3) Artaxerxes stops the building of the temple. (4:17-24)  (A letter is sent Artaxerxes saying that once Israel is strengthened, they will become a threat to him. 4:6-16)  (The king agrees with the letter and commands Israel to stop building the temple. 4:17-24)  (Satan does win battles, but he will not win the war.)  (4) The temple is rebuilt. (5-6)  (The prophets Haggai and Zechariah predict that the temple will be rebuilt. 5:1-2)  (Cyrus' decree is found and it authorizes Israel to continue building. 5:3-12)  (The temple is rebuilt. 6:14-18)  (The Passover is celebrated with great joy. 6:19-22)

The return under Ezra (7-10)  The return (7:1-8:36)  (1) Ezra is the leader of the second return. (7:1-28)  (He was of the priestly line of Aaron and an expert teacher of the Law. 7:1-10)  (He was authorized by a letter from Artaxerxes. 7:11-28)  (2) A list of those that returned is given. (8:1-14)  (3) God safely guides them back to Jerusalem. (8:15-36)

The cleansing of Israel (9:10-10:44)  (1) Ezra confesses Israel's sin (9:1-15)  (Their sin—marrying foreign wives and worshiping their gods. 9:1-2)  (Ezra was appalled at their sin and confesses their sin as if it were his own. 9:3-15)  (2) the people of Israel confess their sin. (10:1-44)  (The people of Israel leave their foreign wives. 10:5-44 See Deut. 7:3-4)

Key People:  King Cyrus of Persia, Zerubbabel, Joshua (or Jeshua) the High Priest, Ezra, Artaxerxes

Key Verses:  1:1-4, 5, 2:68, 3:10-13, 6:6-12, 13-22, 7:11-26, 27-28, 9:1-2, 3-15, 10:1-17

Key Teachings:  God's grace to Israel (1:1-11) (God's grace to us—Eph. 1:3-14)  God's sovereignty—Israel returned when God chose for them to return. (1:1-11) See Isa. 44:28-45:13; II Chron. 36:22-23; Jer. 25:11-12, 29:10-11  Israel's voluntary giving in response to God's grace. (2:68-69) See Col. 3:1-17  Satan wins battles, but he is not winning the war. (4:17-24)  God is able to move the heart of kings. (7:11-26; Prov. 21:1; Dan. 2:21)  True confession of Israel's sin of intermarriage required that they separate themselves from their foreign wives. (10) See Deut. 7:2-4

Nehemiah:  A portrait of a godly leader—the problems that he encountered and how he solved them.
Key EventsHow God's work must begin (1:1-11a)  (1) His heart is broken over the tragic state of Jerusalem. (1:1-4)  (God's work begins in us when our heart is broken over the effect sin is having on people in our city, country, and world.)    (2) Nehemiah prays for Jerusalem. (1:5-11a)  (Nehemiah identifies himself with Israel's sin and confesses the sins as his own. 1:5-6 See Dan. 9:1-17; Zech. 12:10-12)
Nehemiah's wise solutions to problems that he encountered in God's work. (1:11b-6:14)  Problem #1 (1:11b-2:10): He was King Artaxerxes' cupbearer—how could he help Jerusalem when he was a needed and valued servant of the mighty Persian king? (1:11b-2:4)  Nehemiah's solution—he goes in prayer to Someone greater than the king. (1:11b)  (The king asks him why he is so sad, and then grants his request to go to Jerusalem. 2:1-10 See Prov. 21:1Problem #2 (2:11-18): He had no one to help him rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah's solution—he gets the people of Israel to share his vision. (2:11-18)  (It was not his work, but their work: "You see the trouble we are in." 2:17)  Problem #3 (2:19-20): Opposition from Sanballat, Tobiah, and Gesham—they ridicule the people of Israels' efforts to rebuild the walls. Nehemiah's solution—Nehemiah kept his focus on God and His plans for Israel. (Building continues. 3:1-32)  Problem #4 (4:1-6): Stronger opposition from Sanballat and Tobiah—bitter sarcasm. Nehemiah's solution—He prays, taking his anger to God and he perseveres. The people continue to work. Problem #5 (4:7-9): The opposition intensifies. Nehemiah's solution—They prayed and "posted a guard."  Problem #6 (4:10-23): Discouragement sets in. (When you are tired, the task can seem overwhelming.)  Nehemiah's solution—He focuses on God who is much greater than their problems. (4:14)  Problem #7 (5:1-13): Internal dissension becomes a problem. (The rich were oppressing and enslaving the poor. 5:1-5)  Nehemiah's solution—He confronts the rich and they submit to his rebuke. Problem #8 (5:14-19): Prosperity—Nehemiah receives a promotion. Nehemiah's solution—He refuses to allow his greater power and privilege to corrupt him. Problem #9 (6:1-8): False accusations are made. Nehemiah's solution—He avoids getting entangled in the charges. Problem #10 (6:9-19): There is an attempt to intimidate them. Nehemiah's solution—He refuses to be intimidated. (6:11-14) (Their enemies ended up being intimidated. 6:15-19)
Rebuilding the city within the walls (7:1-13:31)  (1) A census is taken. (7:4-73)  (2) Ezra reads the Law and the people are instructed by the Levites. (8:1-8)  (3) Israel celebrates the Feast of Tabernacles, (8:9-18)  (4) Israel confesses their sins. (9:1-37) (Israel's history with God is traced. 9:5-37)  (5) Israel covenants to obey God's Law. (9:38-10:39)  (6) Jerusalem is repopulated. (11:1-36)  (7) A list of priests  and Levites is made. (12:1-27)  (8) The wall of Jerusalem is dedicated. (12:27-43)  (9) Nehemiah's final reforms are described. (13:1-31)

Key People:  Nehemiah, Artaxerxes, Sanballat, Tobiah

Key Verses:  1:3-11, 2:17-18, 4:4-5, 8:21-18, 9:1-3, 16-37, 13:15-22

Key Teachings:  When we pray for our country, our country's sins are our sins. (1:5-11a)  God is greater than any obstacle. (1:16-2:10)  Seek to get others to see God's task as our task. (2:11-18)  Our tasks can seem overwhelming to us at times; but they are never overwhelming to God. (4:10-12, 14)  Nehemiah brings Israel in compliance with God's Law. There is also a need, at times, to cleanse the church . (13:1-31)

Esther: A look behind the scenes. God is not mentioned in Esther nor is any miracle recorded, yet the whole book is a miracle of God's intervention on behalf of Israel.

Key EventsGod opens a door. (1:1-22)  (1) King Xerxes displays his wealth for 180 days, followed by a great banquet for 7 days. (1:1-9)  (2) Queen Vashti refuses to be displayed to the guests of the banquet. (1:10-12)  (3) Xerxes is furious and, after seeking counsel, decides to replace Vashti as his queen. (1:13-21) (the king's anger—1:12, 2:1) 

Esther and Mordecai walk through an open door. (2:1-23)  (1) After a search for a new queen, Esther is made queen. (2:1-18)  (2) Mordecai uncovers a plot to assassinate Xerxes. (2:19-23) 

Satan's plot to kill all of the Jews (3:1-15) (Haman is elevated to a high position by Xerxes.)  (Mordecai refuses to kneel before Haman. 3:1-2 See Dan. 3:1-30, 6:13-16)  (Haman plots to kill all of the Jewish people. 3:7-15)

Queen Esther, God's woman of destiny (4:1-17)  (1) Mordecai begs Esther to plead with the king. (4:1-8)  (2) Esther reports back to Mordecai that she cannot enter Xerxes' presence unless he first calls her. (4:9-10)  (3) Mordecai tells Esther that she may have become queen for this very reason. Esther chooses to contact the king, even if she dies. 4:11-17) ("And if I perish, I perish." 4:16)

God's timing (5:1-7:10)  (1) Esther made the request to see Xerxes when he was in a good mood. (51-2)  (2) Esther invites Xerxes and Haman to a banquet. (5:3-12)  (3) Haman has a gallows built for Mordecai. (5:13-14)  (4) Xerxes cannot sleep, so he reads the record of events in his empire and learns that Mordecai rescued him from an assassination plot. (6:1-2)  (5) Xerxes asks Haman how he should honor Mordecai, but Haman thinks that Haman is talking about honoring him. (6:3-9)  (6) Haman learns that it is to be Mordecai to be honored. (6:10-14)  (7) At the banquet, Esther asks Xerxes to spare her people the Jews and points out Haman as the one who seeks to kill her and her people. (7:1-8)  (8) Haman is hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. (7:9-10) See Prov. 1:18, 26:27 

The humble Mordecai is exalted and the Jews are saved. (8:1-9:17)  Purim is celebrated. (9:18-32)  Mordecai is honored by Xerxes. (10:1-3)

Key People: King Xerxes, Queen Vashti, Esther, Mordecai, Haman

Key Verses:  3:3-15, 4:14-16, 5:1-7:10, 8:1-9:17, 9:18-32, 10:1-3

Key Teachings:  God opens doors for His people to accomplish His purposes—Esther became queen at just the right time. (chapters 1-7, 4:14)  Haman is a type of the antichrist, who also will suddenly fall from power. See Dan. 11:36-45; II Thess. 2:1-12; Rev. 19:19-21  The "Purim" Festival is a remembrance of the deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman's plan to kill them all. (9:18-32)  God humbles the proud Haman and exalts the humble Mordecai. See James 4:10; I Peter 5:6

Old Testament Overview Studies

Old Testament Overview
Table of Contents
Old Testament Overview Outline
Old Testament Overview Genesis
Old Testament Overview Exodus to Deuteronomy
Old Testament Overview Furniture of the Tabernacle
Old Testament Overview Dress of Priests and High Priest
Old Testament Overview Dress of High Priest
Old Testament Overview Canaan: What Can it Teach Us?
Old Testament Overview Israel, God's Kingdom
Old Testament Overview Moses—Failure the Backdoor to Success
Old Testament Overview The Mosaic Covenant
Old Testament Overview The Ten Commandments
Old Testament Overview The Offerings
Old Testament Overview Uncleanness
Old Testament Overview The Priesthood
Old Testament Overview The Festivals
Old Testament Overview The Nazirite Vow
Old Testament Overview Joshua to Ruth
Old Testament Overview Prophecies of the Redeemer—Genesis to Ruth
Old Testament Overview I and II Samuel
Old Testament Overview Saul and David Compared
Old Testament Overview Jonathan and David Compared
Old Testament Overview The Davidic Covenant
Old Testament Overview I And II Kings
Old Testament Overview Israel's and Judah's Kings
Old Testament Overview Divided Kings who Divided
Old Testament Overview Criticisms of God's Actions in the Old Testament
Old Testament Overview Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther
Old Testament Overview Ruth and Esther Compared
Old Testament Overview Job to Song of Solomon
Old Testament Overview Proverbs: Wise Man or Fool?
Old Testament Overview Isaiah
Old Testament Overview Jeremiah
Old Testament Overview Daniel
Old Testament Overview Hosea
Old Testament Overview Joel
Old Testament Overview Amos
Old Testament Overview Obadiah
Old Testament Overview Jonah
Old Testament Overview Micah
Old Testament Overview Nahum
Old Testament Overview Habakkuk
Old Testament Overview Zephaniah
Old Testament Overview Haggai
Old Testament Overview Zechariah
Old Testament Overview Malachi