To encourage us to help build Zion and show Christlike love to those who oppose the Lord's work.
• Ezra 1:1-2. “Thus saith Cyrus … The Lord God of heaven … hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem”.
• Isaiah 44:28. “That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.”
• Isaiah 45:1-5. “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations …”
How would you feel reading a scripture that gave your name and described things you would do?
• Ezra 4:1-7; 11-24. The “adversaries of Judah … heard that the children of the captivity builded a temple”.
When their offer to help was refused, how did they respond?
• Haggai 1:1-7; Ezra 5:1-2. “This people say, The time is not come, … that the Lord’s house should be built… thus saith the Lord … consider your ways.” “Then rose up Zerubabbel … and began to build the house of God …”
What attitudes hinder us from regular worship and service in the temple?
“The Samaritans again tried to stop the rebuilding of the temple when construction resumed. But the Jews explained the decree of King Cyrus, and King Darius allowed the work to continue (Ezra 5-6).” (Lesson Manual)
What did the Jews do when the temple was finished? (See Ezra 6:15-22.)
• Read Ezra 7-8. “Just as the Lord had earlier moved the heart of King Cyrus to free the Jews, He moved the heart of King Artaxerxes to let Ezra’s group of Jews return to Jerusalem. (Ezra 7:27-28; 11-26).” (Lesson Manual)
How has the Lord softened the hearts of government leaders toward the Church in our day?
†2. President Thomas S. Monson
What can we do to encourage government leaders’ hearts to be softened toward the Church?
• Ezra 8:21-23, 31. Ezra wrote, “Then I proclaimed a fast there … to seek of him [God] a right way for us”.
• Nehemiah 1:3-11; 2:1-5. “The remnant that are left … there … are in great affliction and reproach”.
• Nehemiah 2:6-8. The king asked, “For how long shall thy journey be? And when wilt thou return?”
• Nehemiah 2:17-18. At Jerusalem, Nehemiah said, “Let us rise up and build.”
What can we learn from Nehemiah that can guide us when we are troubled by the suffering of others?
What are some words or actions that do not encourage or inspire us? What words or actions help us?
• Nehemiah 2:10, 19; Nehemiah 4:1-3, 7-8, 11. When “Sanballat [Samarian governor] heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.” †4. Elder Marvin J. Ashton
• Read Nehemiah 8.
• Nehemiah 8:1-3, 6, 9, 12, 17-18. After finishing the walls, “all the people gathered themselves” to hear the scriptures.
How can we be more attentive as we read the scriptures?
• Nehemiah 8:8. “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense … to understand”.
How can we acquire feelings for God’s words like these Israelites at Jerusalem?
What has helped you in your efforts to understand the scriptures and to help your family understand them?
• Nehemiah 8:9-11. “For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.”
†5. “The work is great and large, and we are separated” (Nehemiah 4:19)
Next Week: L48: “The Great and Dreadful Day of the Lord”; See L48 Class Member Study Guide.
(You can download a free LDS Institute Manual at: Old Testament Manual: Religion 301 and 302.)
†1. Historical Information: “In 721 B.C., when the kingdom of Israel (the Northern Kingdom, or ten tribes) was taken captive by Assyria, the Assyrian empire was the greatest in the world. By 612 B.C., however, the Assyrian empire had been destroyed by the Babylonians. Under King Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon ruled most of the lands that had been conquered by the Assyrians. The Babylonian conquest of the kingdom of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) extended from about 605 B.C., when they took many Jews captive, to 587 B.C., when they destroyed Jerusalem.
“After Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 B.C., Babylon declined rapidly in power. In 539 B.C., Babylon fell to the Medes and the Persians, united under the leadership of Cyrus. Unlike Nebuchadnezzar, who treated those he conquered with cruelty, Cyrus was a benevolent ruler. By treating conquered peoples kindly and respecting to their religions, Cyrus won the loyalty of those he ruled.
“Shortly after conquering Babylon, Cyrus decreed that the temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt. He invited the Jews in his empire to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. (See 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-3, 7. The prophecy of Jeremiah that is referred to in these verses is that the Jews would return to Jerusalem after 70 years of Babylonian captivity; see Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10.)
“… [A]lthough the story of Cyrus comes before the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament, Isaiah lived about 150 years before Cyrus was born).The ancient Jewish historian Flavius Josephus reported that Cyrus read his name in Isaiah’s prophecies, was touched by the Spirit of the Lord, and desired to fulfill what was written (The Works of Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, trans. William Whiston [n.d.], bk. 11, chap. 1, pars. 1-2).
“When Zerubabbel and Jeshua led the first group of Jews back to Jerusalem, they found the Samaritans there. … [T]he Samaritans were descendants of Israelites who had escaped at the time of captivity and had intermarried with Assyrian and Babylonian colonists whom the king had sent to occupy the land.” (Lesson Manual)
†2. President Thomas S. Monson: [In communist East Germany] “The work moved forward. The paramount blessing needed was the privilege of our worthy members to receive their endowments and their sealings.
“We explored every possibility. A trip once in a lifetime to the temple in Switzerland? Not approved by the government. Perhaps mother and father could come to Switzerland, leaving the children behind. Not right. How do you seal children to parents when they cannot kneel at an altar? It was a tragic situation. Then, through the fasting and the prayers of many members, and in a most natural manner, government leaders proposed: Rather than having your people go to Switzerland to visit a temple, why don’t you build a temple here in the German Democratic Republic? The proposal was accepted, a choice parcel of property obtained in Freiberg, and ground broken for a beautiful temple of God.” (“Thanks Be to God,” Ensign, May 1989.)
†3. Nehemiah: “Nehemiah was the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes of Persia. This was a position of great trust and responsibility, requiring Nehemiah to ensure that the king’s food and drink were safe. Even though Nehemiah was in a position of importance in Persia, he cared about his people in Jerusalem and sought to help them when he heard of their difficulties.” (Lesson Manual)
†4. Elder Marvin J. Ashton: “Certain people and organizations are trying to provoke us into contention with slander, innuendos, and improper classifications. How unwise we are in today’s society to allow ourselves to become irritated, dismayed, or offended because others seem to enjoy the role of misstating our position or involvement. Our principles or standards will not be less than they are because of the statements of the contentious. Ours is to explain our position through reason, friendly persuasion, and accurate facts. Ours is to stand firm and unyielding on the moral issues of the day and the eternal principles of the gospel, but to contend with no man or organization. … Ours is to be heard and teach. Ours is not only to avoid contention, but to see that such things are done away” (“No Time for Contention,” Ensign, May 1978, 8).
†5. “The work is great and large, and we are separated” (Nehemiah 4:19): “While rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, the Jews separated themselves so they could work simultaneously on different sections of the wall (Nehemiah 3; 4:19). At times they were far apart, but they were all working toward the same goal, and by working together they were able to complete the wall. Remind class members that the Church is divided into different units (such as families, wards, branches, stakes, districts, and quorums) throughout the world. Sometimes a unit may seem far from other units. But all the Saints are working toward the same goals, and if each individual and each unit works diligently, the entire Church will continue to grow.” (Lesson Manual)
1. President Thomas S. Monson, “Thanks Be to God,” Ensign, May 1989.
2. Elder Marvin J. Ashton, “No Time for Contention,” Ensign, May 1978.