Return from Exile: Ezra 7-10 (2)
Pray Psalm 148.11-14.
Kings of the earth and all peoples;
Princes and all judges of the earth;
Both young men and maidens;
Old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the LORD,
For His name alone is exalted;
His glory is above the earth and heaven.
And He has exalted the horn of His people,
The praise of all His saints—
Of the children of Israel,
A people near to Him.
Praise the LORD!
Sing Psalm 148.11-14.
(Hendon: Take My Life and Let It Be)
Kings of earth and peoples all, young men, maidens, on Him call!
Old men, children, princes, kings, bring to God your offerings.
Bring to God your offerings.
For His people He has raised His salvation: God be praised!
All whom Jesus Christ brings near praise their Savior, ever dear,
praise their Savior, ever dear!
Read Ezra 7.11-28; meditate on verse 23, 27, 28.
1. Why did Artaxerxes write such a generous letter?
2. What did Ezra understand about why this came to pass?
The letter was signed by Artaxerxes, but it’s pretty clear he had some “help” in composing it. Ezra knew what needed to be done to free the people in Jerusalem from their captivity to self. It was not enough that the temple had been completed—disappointing “small thing” that it was. God’s people needed to get reoriented to Him, and the way to do that is through proper worship. This is what Ezra intended to accomplish by coming to Jerusalem.
Artaxerxes gave free rein to all the priests and Levites who wished to return, and he promised to pay all their expenses and furnish them with whatever they needed to reestablish right worship (vv. 13-17). He lavished them with gifts for the temple (vv. 18-23) and called on the governors of the region to provide whatever resources were necessary. He also invested Ezra with the authority to appoint judges and to teach the Law of God to all people “who are in the region beyond the River” (v. 25). And he meant business (v. 26).
The king was perhaps hoping to get on the good side of the Lord in doing all this (v. 23). His motives may not have been entirely pure, but this is a clear example of those who do not know the Lord “feigning obedience” to Him because of His favor upon His people (cf. Pss. 66.3; 81.15). Ezra, on the other hand, knew where all these decisions and provisions were coming from, and he blessed God for all His sovereign goodness (vv. 28, 29). God truly honors those who keep and teach His Law (Matt. 5.17-19).
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Artaxerxes wrote: “I issue a decree that all those of the people…who volunteer to go up…may go with you” (Ezra 7.13).
Ezra said: “So I was encouraged, as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me; and I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me” (Ezra 7.28).
Between the volunteering and the gathering, all the people whom God wanted to go to Jerusalem, went.
Some of us who are believers volunteered and some were gathered. Either way, we rejoice to participate in the present Kingdom now and the Kingdom eternal hereafter. The Bible is full of examples of both, as is life now.
“Your people shall be volunteers in the day of Your power;
in the beauties of holiness…” (Ps. 110.3).
As Paul wrote to Philemon regarding Onesimus, “…that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary” (Philem. 1.14).
“He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm…” (Is. 40.11).
“The LORD God who gathers the outcasts…” (Is. 56.8).
None of us was ever forced into the Kingdom.
Regardless of the means of our salvation, we all rejoice to be going to Jerusalem with Ezra, to “prepare our hearts to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances…” (Ezra 7.10) in our Personal Mission Field.
We are the volunteers and the gathered of today.
Let us set out together, as one (Jn. 17.11) to “beautify the house of the LORD”! (Ezra 7.27)
1. When you “volunteered” to follow Jesus, who were the people involved in your being “gathered” to Him? Give thanks to God for these people, and, if you can, send them a note, praising Him for them.
2. In your Personal Mission Field, are there people who yet need to be gathered to the Lord? What is your role in this?
3. Whom will you encourage today to volunteer themselves to go forth and gather God’s chosen ones to Himself?
To beautify the house of the Lord is a reference to the reestablishment of moral, spiritual, and religious life. I was encouraged: With renewed vigor, Ezra gathered leading men of Israel to return to Jerusalem with him. Earl Radmacher (1933-2014), NKJV Study Bible Notes on Ezra 7.27, 28
Pray Psalm 52.1-8.
Pray that God would foil the plots of those who persecute the Church, and that He would cause His churches to grow and flourish despite the opposition of their enemies.
Sing Psalm 148.1-7.
(Hendon: Take My Life and Let It Be)
Praise the Lord, from heaven praise! To the heights His goodness raise!
Angels, all you heav’nly hosts, let of Him be all your boasts,
let of Him be all your boasts!
Praise Him, sun, moon, shining lights, brilliant stars that light the nights!
Praise Him, heav’ns for all His love, and you waters far above,
and you waters far above!
Praise Him who created all by His Word and mighty call!
All things His decree obey; thus they shall not pass away.
Thus they shall not pass away.
Let all creatures, everything, God’s great praises loudly sing!
His Name only brims with worth, far above both heav’n and earth,
far above both heav’n and earth!
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.
Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.
And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.
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.