Ezra, Ezra, Read All about Him

December 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Posted in Ezra | 1 Comment
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Ezra Chapter 10 is an example of sin being dealt with clearly, quickly, and decisively.

Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it.

Ezra 10:4

During a time of exile, God’s people had become unclean. They needed to feel the remorse that comes with true repentance, and they needed to take action, which is the evidence of true repentance.

Below are links to the previous lessons on the Book of Ezra:

1. Returning from Exile
2. Different Levels of Separation
3. Leading by Example
4. Beware Fractious Frustraters
5. Getting a Hand, Giving a Hand, and Handing It On
6. Returning to Holiness
7. Post-Exilic Confession

Learning, Loving, and Living the Word

October 31, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Posted in Nehemiah | 4 Comments
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Among other things, the first six chapters of Nehemiah deal with God’s people coming back from exile, doing the work the Lord had assigned to them, and ultimately finishing the work. Chapter 7 deals with protecting the work .

Nehemiah enlisted help in protecting the walls and organizing the city. There is always room in the work of God for Godly helpers.

That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many.

Nehemiah 7:2

Can you imagine if all Christians thought we were called to be Nehemiahs, and none thought they were called to be helpers? Nothing would ever get done. Some of us are called to be Hananis, Hananiahs, Rephaiahs, or Shallums: protectors and guards. If the enemy can’t stop the work of God, he will try to come in and take over what has been built. Bright lights draw people who are interested in helping, but they attract bugs, too.

It was important that the people be able to prove their ancestry in order to go back to Jerusalem to work. It was also important to list the names of the citizens (Nehemiah 7:5-65). The assignment of jobs in an organized move of God may require formal acknowledgment of commitment. That is one of the reasons why New Testament churches may require Christians to officially “join the church” before placing them into trusted ministry positions. If God is calling you to attend a certain local church, then you need to be involved. You need to have a commitment to serve God under His ordained pastor. This shows accountability. The Church is a body, and a body is a living organism, but an unorganized organism will die. Church membership has nothing to do with salvation, and, so far as I can tell, it is not a command from the Bible. Neither does the Bible prohibit you from having a sit-down Bible study in the middle of a busy highway, but it is certainly not a good idea. The local church is important in God’s plan for evangelism and for teaching (discipleship).

In Nehemiah Chapter 8, Nehemiah called a Bible conference and invited Ezra.

And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.

Nehemiah 8:1-3

When Ezra preached, the people listened for five or six hours per day and verse 7 tells us they “stood!”

Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.

Nehemiah 8:7 (emphasis added)

So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

Nehemiah 8:8 (emphasis added)

1. Nehemiah wanted to make sure the Word was learned. Ezra read from the scroll and then taught.

2. Nehemiah wanted to make sure the Word was loved.

And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.

Nehemiah 8:12 (emphasis added)

3. Nehemiah wanted to make sure the the Word was lived.

Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the manner.

Nehemiah 8:18 (emphasis added)

Getting a Hand, Giving a Hand, and Handing it On

October 11, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Posted in Ezra | 3 Comments
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It is interesting to note what Ezra himself saw as the reason for his success.

This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.

Ezra 7:6

For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him.

Ezra 7:9

And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.

Ezra 7:28

And by the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of understanding, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brethren, eighteen;

Ezra 8:18

For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.

Ezra 8:22

Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way.

Ezra 8:31

Ezra recognized that “the good hand of the Lord was upon [him].”

Artaxerxes was called Artaxerxes “the Long-Handed,” and we are reminded of the far-reaching consequences of breaking the laws under our own system of criminal justice when we use the phrase, “the long arm of the law.” Artaxerxes’s influence was certainly widespread, but he was really being used as God’s “long hand.” God’s hand moved Artaxerxes’s hand to sign the decree which granted the authority that Ezra needed.

Ezra Chapter 7 takes place 60 years after the dedication of the temple in Chapter 6. The Jewish remnant was having a difficult time when God raised up Ezra to lead the second group of refugees from Babylon to Judah. Ezra came from a Godly line of priests, and he knew who they were, and he sought to honor their memory. It’s one thing to be left a great material inheritance by your ancestors, but it’s even better to be left a spiritual inheritance. What a waste it would be if your grandparents and their parents deposited spiritual wealth into your account, and you are now squandering it.

Ezra was a student of the Scriptures.

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

Ezra 7:10

He read the Word, he obeyed the Word, and he taught the word. All Christians should be teachers. You may not have an official “classroom of students,” but if you think you don’t have anybody to teach, let me introduce you to your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your co-workers, etc. Find some children whose parents don’t come to church, or some single parent who could use some help, and share what God has shown you in His Word.

They Don’t Make ’em like They used to – and They Never Did

January 28, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Posted in Haggai | 6 Comments
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The name “Haggai” means “festive” – prone to celebrate. The Biblical prophet Haggai prophesied, along with Zechariah, during the time of Ezra – approximately 537 B.C.

About 50,000 Jewish exiles had left Babylon for Judah after King Cyrus issued an edict that they could. They went back to rebuild the city and the temple. The work began, and then stopped for 16 years (536-520 B.C.). It is probable that Haggai and Zechariah were sent by God to get the people working again on the temple after this stoppage. The temple was completed in 515 B.C., so Haggai and Zechariah did not prophesy in vain.

Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?

Haggai 2:3, emphasis added

We must be careful about what we see “in your own eyes.” (See David and Michal in II Samuel 6; and James 4:10.)

Haggai had probably seen Solomon’s temple before it was destroyed. In 536 B.C. the foundation was laid, and the younger men shouted for joy. The older men wept. Why did they weep? They wept because the new temple did not match up, in their estimation, to the old temple. This weeping revealed a lack of enthusiasm for the great work that God was doing. However, even those who were enthusiastic slacked off when opposition grew.


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