Text: (EZRA Chapters 1-7)
OBSERVE: In the first six chapters of the book of Ezra, we read about Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel led the first wave of exiles back to their former homeland sometime between 520-515 BC. This became a possibility in 538 BC after the Decree of Cyrus (King of Persia), which allowed the Jewish people to return to their homeland. Despite many barriers and struggles, Zerubbabel is eventually successful in rebuilding the temple although it provided only partial restoration of the prophetic hopes of the people.
There is then a 50 year gap between chapters six and seven. It is in chapter seven that we begin to read about the memoirs of Ezra who headlined the second wave of the exiles to the land in 458 BC. He was a priest and a teacher in the Torah, which made him a very important part of the community. His life is best summed up with one verse: “Ezra had determined to study and obey the law of the Lord and to teach those decrees and regulations to the people of Israel” (Ezra 7:10).
INTERPRET: The returning exiles needed someone who could teach the Torah, as many would have been unfamiliar with it during their time in Babylon. Ezra was chosen by God for this important task and had God’s good hand on him. Ezra came from a long line of priests, going all the way back to Aaron himself, the first high priest. To know, understand, obey, and teach God’s law was Ezra’s heart commitment, the direction of his life and the intention of his soul. Ezra was chosen by God to help bring spiritual renewal to the people, much in the same way that Jesus would do when he arrived. Jesus would perfectly fulfill Ezra’s agenda: studying the law form the beginning to end, doing it with perfection.
APPLICATION: Just like Ezra, Jesus’ heart and energy were attuned to studying the Word of God. At just twelve years of age, Jesus was discovered in the temple with the religious leaders listening and asking questions (Luke 2: 46-47). Also, like Ezra, Jesus was determined to obey the law of the Lord and his obedience was not automatic, it was authentic. And finally, like Ezra, Jesus taught the scriptures to the people of Israel. Ezra had provided the teaching that the people needed in order to understand, obey and share with others. It was not enough for the people to just be present in the land. Their physical presence alone would just lead to spiritual complacency, which again would have led them right back into exile. While Ezra pointed those he taught to the law of God and the God of the law, Jesus pointed to himself as the fulfillment of all that the law taught.
Today, we need to consistently learn about our God to be able to faithfully serve him and point others to Jesus. The scriptures provide us with this knowledge and we need to be diligent to learn the scriptures so that we can be faithful in our service and witness.
REFLECTION: Have you been determined to study and obey the Word of God?
PRAYER: Jesus; you said that the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher. And this is what my heart seeks most in my life – to know, obey and righty handle your Word of Truth. AMEN
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.