IN TUNE WITH GOD
Lord, thank You for sending us what we need.
Read EZRA 7:1–10
Ezra Comes to Jerusalem
7 After these things, during the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, 2 the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, 3 the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, 4 the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, 5 the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest— 6 this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him. 7 Some of the Israelites, including priests, Levites, musicians, gatekeepers and temple servants, also came up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes.
8 Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king. 9 He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. 10 For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Make every effort, like Ezra, to walk the walk and not just talk the talk!
At last, around 80 years after the first exiles returned and nearly 60 years since the temple’s completion, Ezra appears on the scene leading a new wave of exiles to Jerusalem with the assistance of the Persian king Artaxerxes (6). Once more we see God’s sovereign hand at work behind the scenes, guiding the decisions of pagan authorities in favor of his own people. In Ezra’s case, this is all the more remarkable considering that Artaxerxes’s father, King Ahasuerus (Xerxes), had authorized a death warrant for the destruction of all Jewry in his empire (Esther 3:12,13), until God raised up Queen Esther to prevent that from happening. Otherwise, the Jewish race, including Ezra, would have been obliterated, and the Messiah’s human line cut off. What further proof do we need to see that the sovereign Lord’s plans cannot and will not be thwarted! Hallelujah!
Ezra comes with amazing credentials—an impeccable lineage (descended from Moses’ brother Aaron) and an encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture. His pedigree and intellect are not what makes him such an effective spiritual leader, however. It is rather a heart in tune with God! “Ezra has devoted himself [literally, prepared his heart] to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel” (10).
Every church needs spiritual leaders like Ezra—godly men and women who not only know the Bible but actually live it out, so that their transmission of it to others is less a matter of “Do what I say” than “Do what I do.” For that reason, James 3:1 issues this warning, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (Jas. 3:1). There was no hypocrisy in Ezra’s life. May we and our spiritual overseers display none in ours!
Lord, please help me to be a doer of Your word, not a hearer only (cf. Jas. 1:22).
Lord, we so depend on spiritually stable leadership in our churches. Raise up more and more exemplary leaders to guide Your people.