"Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord ... and may their God be with them." — Ezra 1:3
For almost seventy years the people of God had been asking, "What did we do to deserve exile from our land?" The answer pointed to confessing that they had worshiped other gods and needed to ask the true God for forgiveness.
Empires rise and fall, and when the Persians overtook the Babylonians, God gave his people the opportunity to go home. Many thousands of people led by the prince of the line of David, Zerubbabel (also called Sheshbazzar), journeyed back to their devastated homeland surrounding Jerusalem.
The prophet Haggai had words from God for Zerubbabel at that important time. God said, "I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms... On that day ... I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel ... and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you" (Haggai 2:21-23).
A signet ring symbolized a king's authority. God was giving Zerubbabel encouragement and hope. God was renewing his promises with his people.
By resettling his people in the land of promise, God prepared the nation for the coming of another son of David, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He brought hope to people living in the ruins of their sins, providing strength to rebuild their lives. That hope is ours too, as we look toward the birth of Jesus.