Return from Exile: Ezra 7-10 (1)
Pray Psalm 119.65-67.
You have dealt well with Your servant,
O LORD, according to Your word.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
For I believe Your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.
Sing Psalm 119.65-67.
(Open My Eyes: Open My Eyes that I May See)
You have dealt well with me, O Lord, just as You promised in Your Word.
Teach me good judgment, help me to know all that I need to love You so.
Let Your commandments light my way. Send sweet affliction when I stray,
that I may walk Your holy way and keep Your Word.
Read and meditate on Ezra 7.1-10.
1. Who was Ezra?
2. What had he prepared to do?
The name “Ezra” derives from a Hebrew root that means “help.” So with Ezra’s coming to the still-captive (to selfish lusts) people of Jerusalem, help was truly on the way.
Ezra approached the Persian king to approve and fund his mission to Jerusalem (v. 6), but God helped him in this matter by preparing the king’s heart. Ezra was a descendant of Aaron and thus a priest in the line of Eleazar, who succeeded his father to the high priesthood (vv. 1-5). Ezra took with him to Jerusalem other priests and Levites. He must have heard either that worship leaders and teachers were in short supply or that those who were there weren’t getting the job done (v. 7).
It was a five-month journey, and “the good hand of his God” was upon him all the way (vv. 8, 9). Ezra had come to Jerusalem for one purpose. Having spent much time preparing His heart and poring over the Law of God, both to know it and do it, Ezra came to Jerusalem to teach, and specifically, to teach the statutes and ordinances of the Law of God (v. 10).
As we shall see, the people were not as ready to be helped as Ezra was to help. He would prevail for a season. But the people were still in captivity to themselves, and thus many of them would not be inclined to heed the words Ezra taught. More help would be needed later.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
Ezra’s life and message were exactly what the captive people needed for success.
Without his message and life, none of them, or us, will ever succeed in realizing the Kingdom of God.
Every generation needs, for all its people who follow Jesus Christ, to replicate Ezra’s goal:
“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD,
and to DO it, and to teach the statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7.10).
“My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end” (Ps. 119.112 NIV).
“And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mk. 12.20).
Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (Jn. 14.15).
Moses said, “Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe—all the words of this law. For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life, and by this word you shall prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess” (Deut. 32.46, 47). Your Personal Mission Field.
But without following Ezra’s example, we will be merely “sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13.1). For how can we possibly love our neighbor if we don’t first and foremost love our God, His Son Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and His Law?
Otherwise, help will never be on the way for us or those we are called to serve.
1. How does Ezra’s example and mission challenge you?
2. What “help” do you plan to bring to the people in your Personal Mission Field today?
3. How can you know the hand of God guiding and strengthening you throughout the day ahead?
By his name too, which means “helper,” Ezra openly stands for the Lord. For it is he by whom alone the people of the faithful are constantly liberated from tribulations and, as though from captivity in Babylon to freedom in Jerusalem, are brought from the “confusion” of the vices to the “peace” and serenity of the virtues as they advance by the steps of meritorious deeds. The Venerable Bede (672-735), On Ezra and Nehemiah 2.9
Pray Psalm 119.68-72.
Praise God for His goodness and for His Word. Call on Him to grant you more to delight in His Word, to learn more of what He wants you to learn, and to trust in His Word throughout the day.
Sing Psalm 119.68-72.
(Open My Eyes: Open My Eyes that I May See)
Lord, You are good, and good You do; teach me that I may do good, too.
Wicked men my true pathway distort; I keep Your Word with all my heart.
Their heart is dark with sin’s cruel blight, but in Your Law is my delight.
Let me not turn from Your sweet Light, nor from Your Word.
All my afflictions, Lord, I turn to You that I Your Law may learn.
Teach me to hold Your Word in my heart, never from its true way to part.
Your Law is better far to me than any wealth could ever be;
open my eyes and let me see more of Your Word!
T. M. and Susie Moore
Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking here and here.
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available free by clicking here.