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July 11, 2020

After the decree of King Cyrus and seventy years of captivity in Babylonia, the children of Israel, namely the tribe of Judah under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Ezra, returned to Palestine. The story of their return is penned in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, and it shares their struggles, neglect, oppositions, and their accomplishments. Additionally, they rebuilt the temple and their cities in Palestine.

Historians record from the closing of Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament to Matthew the first book in the New Testament, approximately four hundred years passed. This time was known as the “Period of Silence,” for during this time, there were no words spoken or written by the prophets. Furthermore, historians wrote about the fate that befell Israel during this period and how they were bitterly persecuted and their religious practices hindered by the series of conquering rulers that took possession of Palestine. By the time of Jesus’ birth, the Roman Republic had taken control, and the Jews were required to pay yearly taxes to Rome, who gave them some political liberty to control local affairs and permitted them some religious freedom. Also, various Jewish parties: Zealots, Sadducees, Pharisees, Essences, Scribes, and Samaritan, all with their own beliefs, could be found operating in Palestine.

Despite their circumstances, the Jews remembered the Edenic promise of the seed of the woman and words of the Old Testament prophets Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Micah, who talked about the coming Messiah, a conquering king who would redeem man and restore the earthly kingdom of Israel. The Jews were expecting someone prestigious to be their king, someone born of Davidic royalty, someone who was scholastically astute and not someone who came from a lowly background or someone who was placed in a manger at birth.

First came John the Baptist heralding, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and then came Jesus. Throughout His earthly ministry, His teaching, healings, and feeding the multitudes caused many Jews to want to make Jesus their king. At one point, they forcibly attempted to take Him and make Him king, but He withdrew from their midst.

Even His disciples whom He walked with for three years, whom He taught privately and gave insight into mysteries and parables, did not understand because after His resurrection and before His ascension, they asked him, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”

The outcome of Jesus’s time on earth was not what His fellow countrymen expected. Those of us living in the 21st century, and are privileged to read the Bible in its completion understand that He was not coming solely to redeem the Jews but the whole world. We understand the events that needed to occur before His earthly kingdom reign are manifesting now. Jesus was not what they expected; however, He is whom His bride with expectation longingly await and say, “Even so come, Lord Jesus.”

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