Ezra’s Commitment Ezra 7:1-10
Between Ezra 6 and 7 fifty-seven years have passed. Now finally, God raised up Ezra, the scribe and priest to go back to Jerusalem and bring a revival to Israel. The first five verses are the presentation of Ezra’s credentials. Ezra was not bucking for High Priest, but he was a qualified priest by his descent from Aaron. Verses 6-9 are a summary of what God did in allowing the second wave of exiles to return to Judah with Ezra. We will concentrate our study today on verse 10 which explains how Ezra was so useable to God and how we can please Him and be useable to Him too.
“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.”
While Ezra did not earn grace, God does promise to bless those who put Him first and seek to obey His Will. When we read Artaxerxes’ letter in chapter 4 we recognize that in the beginning Artaxerxes was no friend to God’s people. Still, there are two individuals we shall meet who found favor in the sight of the king and were ablet to do much for God’s people.
Why did God turn Artaxerxes heart? The first word in verse 10 told us. The good hand of the LORD his God was upon him “for,” or “because” Ezra committed his entire being to seek the Law of the Lord.
This was no easy task for one who was born in captivity. Almost every Jew who grew up in Babylon learned to speak Aramaic. That is how the Targum, the summary of the Hebrew Scriptures translated in Aramaic, began. This is also why we read in Nehemiah 8:8 “So they [the Levites with Ezra] read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.” So, Ezra made learning the Law (the instruction from the Word of God) a priority in his life.
What he did is remarkable, but HOW he did it is astounding and the great secret of his pleasing God. “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD.” The phrase “prepared his heart” means Ezra sought the Word of God with all of his being. He pursued the knowledge of the Word of God with all that he was. The Bible wasn’t something in his life., It was the most important thing.
Do you remember how the godly person is identified in Psalm 1:2? “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” Ezra was the embodiment of this truth.
Do you als remember some of the blessings God promised to those who hold fast to His Word like Ezra did? Psalm 1:3 reads, “He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.” Consider also 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Our equipping for service is our knowledge of and immersion in the Word of God.
Martin Luther the father of the Reformation and the return to Biblical Christianity when called on to recant his books on the pain of death said, “I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.” Martin Luther’s commitment to the Word of God changed the world. Will ours?
Ezra was committed to knowing the Bible. He had to live it. Before he would teach it he had to carry it out in his life: “and to do it.” This little phrase is powerful. Ezra did not approach the Bible as a textbook to learn and to create sermons from, but also as a manual for life. He knew like the Apostle James later that the blessing was not just in the knowing but in the doing.
James wrote in James 1:22–25: “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” We cannot practice the Word, if we do not read it. However, just studying it is not enough. We have to translate the book it into our lives. We know it and then do it.
The note that both Ezra and James sounded are not new in the Word of God. Over and over again, we are commanded to learn the word, but also to do it. “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart.” (Psalm 119:1–2). Again in Psalm 119:9 “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.” Before Ezra proclaimed the word, he committed himself to study it and he carried it out in his life, he lived it.
After committing himself to learning and studying the Bible and living the Bible out in his life, Ezra was committed to proclaiming it to those who would hear him. This is a great text for preachers because they are to preach not the Reader’s Digest, but the Word of God.
However, preachers are not to be the only ones who proclaim the Word of God. Let me give you two Biblical examples.
First, we read in Deuteronomy 6:4-7. The revelation is in verse 4“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” After the revelation follows the command. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Now comes the application. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
Second we read in Acts 11:20-21, “But some of them [those who fled from the persecution in Jerusalem] were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.” We must also “gossip the gospel” to those who we meet along life’s way.
Why was Ezra so pleasing to God and so used of God to turn an ungodly ruler to helping God’s people? The Bible tells us it is because: Ezra set his heart to learn the Word, live the Word, and then to teach the Word.