Ezra...True and Faithful Scribe
The Babylonian Captivity
God had given the Israelites chance after chance to repent and come back to true worship of Him. And time and time again, even if the Israelites did turn from their wicked ways for a time, they would continue to rebel against God.
From the time Moses led the people out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, from the time Joshua led the people into victory when they went in to possess the Promised Land, God had told the children of Israel that if they obeyed Him, they would receive the blessings; but, if they rebelled and disobeyed, there would be punishments and consequences.
It should come as no surprise when God granted permission for King Nebuchadnezzar, a Babylonian king, to go in and conquer the land of Israel. Do you not think God had His hand in Babylon winning victory over Israel? There is nothing that happens in the world of mankind that God does not control.
We would do well to remember this even today. Sometimes God will lead us into the storm; but, He will always make a way for us to come back out of the storm.
1 Corinthians 10:13--"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."
How great is our God that He loves us so much to provide the answers when we need them! Praise God!
How Great is Our God?
A Little Bit of Background
The book of Ezra describes how the Judean exiles were given their leave to return to their promised land and to rebuild the destroyed Temple there.
2 Chronicles 36:21--"The land enjoyed its Sabbath rests; all the time of the desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah."
Two Separate Temple Rebuildings
- The first wave of rebuilding the Temple happened with the given permission of Cyrus, king of Persia.
Ezra 1:1-5--"In the first year of Cyrus king of Persian, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: 'This is what Cyrus king of Persia says; "The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you-may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. And the people of any place where survivors may now be living are to provide him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem." ' Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites-everyone whose heart God had moved-prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem."
- A period of time between King Cyrus and King Darius, both of Persia, came when Artaxerxes called a halt to the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Artaxerxes's associates caused a raucous about the Temple being rebuilt. They thought that this rebuilding would cause them to lose profit and subjects. Though the kings of Judah suffered a great defeat during their captivity, and even before, the people of the nations at that time still knew and understood the power of the nation of Israel and her God and kings.
- The second wave of rebuilding the Temple happened with the given permission of Darius, king of Persia.
Ezra 6:8-12--"Moreover, I [Darius] hereby decree what you are to do for these elders of the Jews in the construction of this house of God: The expenses of these men are to be fully paid out of the royal treasury, from the revenues of Trans-Euphrates, so that the work will not stop. Whatever is needed-young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem-must be given them daily without fail, so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons. Furthermore, I decree that if anyone changes this edict, a beam is to be pulled from his house and he is to be lifted up and impaled on it. And for this crime his house is to be made a pile of rubble. May God, who has caused his Name to dwell there, overthrow any king or people who lifts a hand to change this decree or to destroy this temple in Jerusalem. I Darius have decreed it. Let it be carried out with diligence."
There is a strong connection between Ezra & his teaching of the Law and the ways of the world of today. Ezra worked with great faith to restore a nearly forgotten law to the people of Judah, the returning exiles who came home from their Babylonian captivity. We have ministers, pastors, preachers, evangelists and teachers of the Word of God today who with great faith to restore a lost and dying world to the redemption of Jesus, the Christ, our Lord and Savior.
How did Ezra fully trust and obey God in his day, and how do our ministers, pastors, preachers evangelists and teachers fully trust and obey God in this day?
- Ezra carefully studied the God's Word. Ezra 7:10--"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."
- Today, true believers also study the Word of God. John 4:11-12--"He told them, 'The secret of the Kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, "they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven." ' "
- Ezra brought the people back to a time of repentance for their sins, true worship to God and a respect for the Word of God. Ezra, chapters 8-10.
- Today, true believers must go out into the world and teach a time of repentance for sins, a true worship of God and a respect for the Word of God. Matthew 28:18-20--"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.' "
the NIV (New International Version) Bible
The next book of the Bible that we will journey through is Nehemiah. In Nehemiah, we see Jesus as the rebuilder of broken lives, just as Nehemiah was the rebuilder of broken walls during the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.