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Bible: What Does Ezra 7-10 Teach Us About God's Goodness and Man's Need To Repent?
Ezra the Scribe
The Law of God
The "Good Hand of the LORD"
Ezra—a learned scribe of the Law and, according to his genealogy, a descendant of Aaron—arrives on the scene during Artaxerxes' reign (vv. 1-8).
The text emphasizes that the "hand" or "good hand" of the LORD rested upon him (vv. 6, 9, 28).
Evidence of this true condition is his safe arrival in Jerusalem after a five-month trip from Babylon (v. 9).
Ezra first prepares his heart to seek the Law.
Then he purposes to do it himself, and finally teach it to Israel (v. 10).
He receives a letter from Artaxerxes, reminding him to buy the animals and other articles for sacrifice with the empire's money (v. 17).
The king also provides him with a generous expense account (vv. 18-22), and prohibits taxation on any of the temple servants (v. 24).
All of this favor demonstrates that Artaxerxes recognized the power of Ezra's God (v. 23).
He authorizes this wise scribe to set up a system whereby the people might learn God's law, including criminal liability for any civil or religious disobedience (v. 26).
Ezra responds to Artaxerxes' letter by blessing God, who moved the king to allow the Jews to repair the temple and to show mercy to him (vv. 27-28).
[Ezra recognizes that having the State on one's side is a gift from God.
One wonders, however, whether he understood and accepted the fact that, because of this arrangement, the State would curtail the Jews’ personal freedom].
Setting Up the Temple Service
Verses 1-14 provide a list of almost fifteen hundred men who accompanied Ezra to Jerusalem.
At Ahava, a staging area 9 miles north of Babylon, Ezra sends wise leaders to obtain servants for the temple service (vv. 15-17).
Again, "the good hand" of God brings success, as they appoint two hundred fifty-eight helpers (vv. 18-20).
As they prepare to travel, the company fasts and prays for safety against robbers, testifying through these deeds that God will protect them (vv. 21-23).
Ezra then hands over gold, silver, and bronze to twelve priestly leaders to present to leaders of priests in Jerusalem for temple use (vv. 24-30).
God gives these men "traveling mercies," they weigh the temple articles, and the children offer sacrifices to God (vv. 31-36).
[Three times in this chapter the phrase the "good hand of our God" appears, showing godly Ezra's recognition of the LORD in various "small" aspects of life, including raising up servants/workers and safety on the trail].
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Saved Must Marry the Saved Only
Ezra learns about the intermarriage of Jews (especially of their leaders) with the people of the land (vv. 1-2), and responds by showing signs of grief and astonishment (v. 3).
After the godly join him, he fasts until evening and then intercedes for the transgressors (vv. 4-15).
In his prayer Ezra recognizes God's grace toward the remnant, allowing them favor before the Persians (vv. 8-9), and acknowledges the peoples' sin of intermarriage (vv. 10-12) and their consequent guilt and liability to punishment (vv. 13-15).
[This is a good reminder that the "saved" should only marry the "saved," and that godly intercession may lead to the restoration of the guilty].
Prayer of Repentance
Penalty for Disobedience
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Ezra’s prayer leads the people to gather in repentance (v. 1).
Shechaniah advises Ezra to covenant with the LORD on behalf of the people, that they may put away their pagan wives and children (vv. 2-4).
All Israel swears to do so (v. 5).
Ezra fasts and mourns at the temple for the descendants of the captivity (v. 6), and the leaders summon to Jerusalem all men from Judah and Benjamin (v. 7).
The penalty for disobedience: confiscation of property and excommunication (v. 8).
While standing in a heavy rain, Ezra commands the men assembled in the temple square to separate themselves from the pagans (vv. 9-11).
They agree to do so, but ask for time to make corrections because their sin is extensive (vv. 12-14).
Ezra and family leaders question those who sinned (vv. 16-17).
Verses 18-44 list those who took pagan wives.
[Setting affairs right may be painful and time-consuming, but it is always what God desires and expects].
1. What were some ways in which God was involved in the revival of the Jews?
2. What other factors were necessary for God's people to live for Him?
3. What should godly leaders always expect whenever they desire to do a work for God? Why?
4. What biblical principle did Ezra stress in chapters nine and ten?
5. What is the “good hand of God” in Ezra?
6. With what four Persian kings did the Jews deal?
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