Lesson Twelve | Devotion #2: Ezra
Joshua Combs | Lead Pastor
“For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” Ezra 7:10
Around 722 BC, the nation of Israel fell to the Assyrian empire and was taken into brutal captivity. While the nation of Judah, just to the south, remained a nation longer (around 586 BC), the Babylonian Empire besieged Jerusalem, and the nation soon fell. The nation of Judah was taken into Babylonian captivity (this is where we get stories of Daniel and his three friends) and for the next several generations that are where they would languish. They experienced quite a fall from the heights of the reigns of David and his son Solomon to now ceasing to being a nation. The people were enslaved or slaughtered, and the temple was pillaged until all that remained was just a shell of its former glory.
The love of the Lord is steadfast. God raised up crucial leaders at pivotal times to preserve and restore His people, among the most important were Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, Esther, and Ezra. Each of them served a particular cause that the Lord had laid out for them. Nehemiah was used to restore the social infrastructure of the city of Jerusalem and thereby the stability of the entire nation. Zerubbabel led the people back to the nearly abandoned nation. Esther rose to the heights of Persian power and preserved the people from a holocaust type execution by the vicious Haman.
Ezra was the spiritual leader. The Scripture, throughout the books of Ezra and Nehemiah (probably both written by Ezra), details the crucial role of not just social structure and preservation of life, but the nations wholehearted return to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Ezra was both student and teacher. He was a brilliant student of Scripture. The Bible says that he, “…set his heart to study the Law of the Lord….” It was not just to learn for personal pride; he longed to draw the people back to God. Nehemiah chapter 8 records Ezra proclaiming the words of God from “…early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand.” He stood upon “a wooden platform” and without any hesitation called the people to repentance, by simply telling them what God said. According to Nehemiah chapter 9, the people repented.
However, for all of the public ways that God used the priest, Ezra, there is a small phrase in Ezra chapter 7 that must be true of all God’s people. The Scripture says, “…Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel” (Ezra 7:10). Notice Ezra was a brilliant student and powerfully used teacher, but the phrase in between is crucial. He had a personal commitment that he was going to do what God’s Word said. He was not simply going to learn what God said and pass that along to others; he was first going to be obedient to the Lord himself.
To truly to be used by God, we must not just hear what He says to do and then pass that along. We must make a personal commitment to be a hearer of the Word and then a doer (James 1:22).