We finally meet the reformer, Ezra, and we’re seven chapters into his book. Isn’t it something that Ezra can track his lineage all the way back to Aaron! This new section will take place roughly 60 years after what we’ve just read. Fun fact: the story from the Book of Esther would have taken place during the 60-year gap.
I’m going to insert a bit of caution here to not get caught up on the dates and timelines. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are more theologically focused and less intended as historical references.
I have to wonder what Jerusalem looked like all these years later to Ezra, a priest and scribe being “well versed in the Law of Moses.” The temple had been rebuilt and dedicated. How well were the people doing in staying devoted to God like they had been during construction of the temple?
In the second section of the book, Ezra’s return will reflect similarities to the first set of returnees. We see an example of that right away in how God’s influence on the Persian king opens the way for Ezra. Ezra’s rebuilding project will involve the community of believers. They’ve had sixty years to fall back into some bad habits.
Ezra had found favor with God. Because of that, God saw to it that the Persian king was also supportive. We read about Ezra that “[h]e came up to Jerusalem from Babylon, and the king gave him everything he asked for, because the gracious hand of the Lord his God was on him.” The text suggests that God’s favor was a result of Ezra’s devotion and intention to study and teach the law to the people of Israel. Of course, God would reward such behavior!
Don’t we all want God’s gracious hand resting on us, giving us what we need? Good news, we not only have God’s hand, but we have his Spirit living inside us! For us to receive that blessing, we simply need to believe and trust in Jesus, God’s son. The people of Ezra’s day only had the prophecies of the Messiah. We have knowledge of the promises Jesus actually made when he came!
God still desires for us to obey him. What good parent wouldn’t want their child’s obedience? Ezra studied and taught. Those are both great examples of ways we can honor God and help disciple other people like Jesus told us.
Who do you know who needs to hear about Jesus?
Let’s pray. Father God, lead me in the direction you want for me to go. Help me overcome obstacles that rest in my way. Show me the people you want me to touch. I will wait upon you. In the meantime, I praise you with all that I am. In Jesus’ name. Amen.