Ezra- Reflections on Race and Restoration Day 2 What does it look like to restore a people?

Read Ezra chapter 1
We find ourselves in Ezra. The people have been in captivity for about 70 years. They have survived Babylonian captivity and they are under Persian Rule. King Cyrus isn’t like the other kings. He issues a decree at the beginning of chapter one that permits the Jews to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. This change of heart is perfectly timed with the prophecy of Jeremiah 29 (keep 29 tucked in your back pocket we are gonna need it).

10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.

This is the very prophecy that is being fulfilled when Ezra wrote “the Lord Moved the heart of King Cyrus” in chapter 1 verse 1.
The Jews have been granted permission to go back and build the temple and let’s look at how the king and the people set them up for this journey.

My Reflections:
Freedom must be an option: verse 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.
Obviously Black people ain’t goin nowhere. What I mean is that freedom must be wanted for us. Our leaders must have a change of heart. Freedom from oppression has to be an option. It currently is not.
God must move hearts: verse 1- the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia, verse 5- everyone whose heart God had moved
We are not fighting against flesh and blood. As Christians it cannot be lost on us that what is happening here is happening deeply on some spiritual level. I don’t know what you believe about the supernatural but what we are dealing with begs for a move of God. Lord we pray that you move the hearts of those that need to be moved just like you did for the heart of King Cyrus. Lift the blindness that plagues us and those around us and cause us to see and be sensitive to what you are doing and want to do in this country. Let us all do are part just like the people in Persia. Remember: Seek the welfare of the city. Pray on its behalf. In its welfare you will find your welfare. We can’t just fight this with logic, we need God.
Everyone does what they can: verse 6- All their neighbors assisted
Not only did all their neighbors assist them but it was with “silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings.” They helped them out AND it COST them. What if I told you curing systemic racism and anti-blackness in this country was gonna cost you? Also who is my neighbor? Does that question sound familiar? (hint: the Good Samaritan)
They all did their part. We need everybody. Some will protest. Some will donate. Some will write policies. Some will write books. Some will enlighten their circles. Some will be a voice. No one will sit this out. No one will give up. No one is exempt. This will not be a one-time thing.
What was theirs must be returned: verse 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.
REPARATIONSSSSSS- I am not even African American, I am Haitian American. I don’t even think reparations will be granted to me but when I read this, that is all I could think of because America was built on the backs of slaves and on land stolen from Native Americans. Period. We have granted Native American’s their reparations. Why have we neglected Blacks? I googled the case for reparations by Ta-Nehesi Coates. I didn’t even read the whole thing because I was stopped by this verse in Deuteronomy that he uses to introduce the article.
And if thy brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing today.
— Deuteronomy 15: 12–15
When I say I was shook. I have read Deuteronomy at least 3 times. I have never noticed. Which brings me to my last reflection…
The people MUST be set up to prosper: King Cyrus could have just said leave. He could have sent them away empty handed. He could have even chosen to only give them back the articles that Nebuchadnezzar stole. That’s not what he did. Instead he returned their belongings and all the people chipped in to make sure they had all that they needed for the journey to restoration. He ensured their success. “Wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him.”

Your Reflections:
Do we really want what’s best for Black people? So much that in our restoration that we would set them up for success in a way that ensured their success even if it cost you?
Are you willing to pay the price of racism?

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