Monday, April 12th, 2010
"Let him go up to Jerusalem . . . and rebuild the house of Jehovah." (Ezra 1:3)
The prophet Jeremiah foretold the destruction of Jerusalem that occured in 607 B.C.E. He said that God's people would be carried into captivity but would be restored to their homeland after "seventy years." (Jeremiah 29:4, 10) For Jews captive in Babylon, Jeremiah had an important message; they were to stay uncontaminated by the false religion that was practiced in Babylon. Thus they would be ready to return to Jerusalem and restore pure worship when the set time arrived. This happened soon after the Medes and the Persians conquered Babylon in 539 B.C.E. Persian King Cyrus II issued a decree for the Jews to return and rebuild Jehovah's temple in Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:1-4) Thousands of Jews seized this opportunity and returned. (Ezra 2:64-67) In doing so, they fulfilled Jeremiah's prophetic command that in their case involved actual flight from the city of Babylon.—Jeremiah 51:6, 45, 50.
(Watchtower issue: 6/15/08, 1:8, 9)
It's interesting that only some of the Israelites were *ready* when the time came to restore Jerusalem. Despite knowing the prophecy regarding their temporary exile ahead of time, the others must have gotton so caught up with their lives in Babylon, that they lost sight of the fact that their exile was only temporary...and was meant to be a punishment for failing to live up to God's law covenant for so long. Any of the Israelites who allowed themselves to forget that, and who began to grow accustomed to the lifestyle of the Babylonians and a fondness for the people and their customs, would have had a very difficult time making the journey back to Jerusalem, since they wouldn't have wanted to leave.
Which is so similar to the situation in our day,...because we also need to stay separate from false religion and many of the customs & standards which we are surrounded by, while at the same time, continuing to live our lives *right now* in expectation of the new system of things. If we grow too fond of the things of this world (that are in opposition to Jehovah's laws), than we will find it much more difficult to conform to God's requirements in the future. There's no point in allowing ourselves to develop a desire for things which aren't going to exist in the new world.