Return from Exile: Ezra 7-10 (4)
Pray Psalm 96.8-10.
Give to the LORD the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come into His courts.
Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!
Tremble before Him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns;
The world also is firmly established,
It shall not be moved;
He shall judge the peoples righteously.”
Sing Psalm 96.8-10.
(Mit Freuden Zart: Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above)
Bring off’rings sweet to Him, our Lord, in holy garments praise Him!
Tremble before Him, all the earth; among the nations raise Him!
The earth is fixed, it will not move; the peoples will His justice prove.
Exalt the Lord and praise Him.
Read Ezra 8.1-36; meditate on verses 31-36.
1. What did Ezra do with the silver, gold, and other articles?
2. What did the faithful people do once Ezra had arrived in Jerusalem?
Ezra chose twelve “leaders of the priests” and divided among the “the silver, the gold, and the articles, the offering for the house of our God” (v. 24). Why do this? Why not just chuck it all in the back of a wagon and place a guard over it? I can think of at least two reasons. First, if the caravan should be attacked, the offering gifts would be dispersed and therefore might not all be lost. Second, Ezra demonstrated a level of trust with these leaders, who knew that, upon arrival, they would have to give an accounting for the gifts entrusted to them (vv. 26-30, 33, 34). He also used these gifts to remind the priests that both they and these offerings were holy—set aside for the Lord’s purposes only (vv. 28, 29).
Upon arrival in Jerusalem the caravan stayed in isolation for three days. No doubt they used a good portion of that time praising and thanking God for a safe trip and deliverance from enemies (v. 31). On the fourth day all the gifts were gathered, accounted for, and written down (vv. 33, 34).
Then a great celebration was offered, welcoming the caravan to Jerusalem in what looked like a genuine act of worship (v. 35). Copies of the king’s orders were distributed to local leaders, and they ponied up what the king required to help support the effort to restore true worship to the temple (v. 36). Everything seemed to be going so well.
But not everything was as it seemed.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
God did not want the people of Israel to be captive to anyone financially.
He prepared them monetarily beforehand for the work set ahead of them.
“Prepare your outside work, make it fit for yourself in the field; and afterward build your house” (Prov. 24.27).
And He told them to weigh all the gold and silver, accounting for each piece, and to write it all down in a ledger so they could keep good fiscal records of how it was used. “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations” (Prov. 27.23, 24).
He did not want them to be worried about money or concerned about how they would care for the temple and its workers; or to be under the thumb of anyone because of poor handling of their resources. “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Prov. 22.7).
How many churches today are captive to the world because of financial constraints?
How many preachers compromise their message because they don’t want to offend the givers?
How many church leaders don’t enforce church discipline because they don’t want to offend and lose their members’ giving to another more lenient church?
How many pastors don’t talk about tithing because, well, that might offend too?
How many pastors have been found with their fingers in the till because they want more of everything?
How many church leaders are guilty of paying their pastors a pittance, making their lives fiscally difficult?
Money is a testing point. Personal and corporate financial captivity is a miserable situation to be in. God does not want that for His people or His Church. He wants us to be financially responsible, obedient believers; and to trust Him fully. It is a both/and business. We are not to be “greedy for money” (1 Tim. 3.3), always keeping in mind that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness…” (1 Tim. 6.10). “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb. 13.5).
The hand of our God is upon us. He has delivered us from death and given us eternal life in His Kingdom now and forever (Ezra 8.31). We will do well to trust God about all our needs—personal and communal—and work hard to “weigh the silver, gold, and articles” (Ezra 8.33) we are responsible for.
“So they gave support to the people and the house of God” (Ezra 8.36).
Free to be Captive to God alone.
1. Besides money, what are some other things we become captive to that keep us from the work of the Lord?
2. How can you know when you’re falling into captivity to anything other than Jesus?
3. What is our responsibility to one another in the body of Christ for keeping our focus on Jesus and not on things that take us away from Him?
After three days’ rest, the returnees deposited their treasury in the temple (see Neh. 2:11). Four men—two priests and two Levites—counted and weighed everything. A written inventory was then put on file. Earl Radmacher (1933-2014), NKJV Study Bible Note on Ezra 8.33, 34
Pray Psalm 96.1-7, 11-13.
Give thanks and praise to God for His great salvation, that He watches over and shepherds you day by day, and that Jesus is coming again soon to take us to be with Him forever.
Sing Psalm 96.1-7, 11-13.
(Mit Freuden Zart: Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above)
Sing to the Lord! O, bless His Name! All nations tell His glory!
Salvation’s tidings loud proclaim; let earth rehearse His story!
For God is greatly to be praised; His throne above all gods is raised.
Fear Him, and sing His glory!
All other gods are idols vain—the Lord created heaven.
Splendor and strength with Him obtain; to Him be glory given!
All fam’lies, praise this mighty Lord! Give strength and glory to His Word.
Exalt the Lord of heaven.
Let heaven sing with lusty voice; let earth and sea sing sweetly!
Let fields and trees in Him rejoice, for He is coming swiftly
to judge the world in righteousness, the peoples in His faithfulness.
He comes; exalt Him greatly!
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.