Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ezra 7 & 8 - Ezra Leads the Exiles

By Published by Guillaume Rouille (1518?-1589)
("Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum")
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
LINK: Ezra 7 & 8 (read over the next two days)


There is quite a hiatus between Ezra 6 (516 B.C.) and Ezra 7. In the meantime, the activity in the book of Esther occurred (483-473 B.C.). 

The events in Ezra 7 began in 457 B.C. Esther's husband, King Xerxes (Ahasuerus) had died, and his son by Amestris, King Artaxerxes, reigned in Persia (465-424 B.C.). It had been 80 years since the first exiles returned with Zerubbabel. The temple had been standing 58 years. 

Even though the book is named after him, this is the first chapter in which Ezra emerges as a character! You will like him right away though because he "set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel" (7:10). Ezra was a godly leader!

A proclamation by Artaxerxes opened the door for Ezra, the priest, to return to Jerusalem with the second group of exiles which included 1,750 priests, Levites (who needed to be recruited, 8:15-20), and layman, with women and children, the total was closer to 5,000 people.

After prayer and fasting, they set out on the four month, 900 mile journey from Nippur, Babylon to Jerusalem weighed down with the temple treasures. He took the dangerous journey without any military escort but trust in God (8:21-23). God gave them a safe journey (8:31-36). And they worshiped Him when they arrived (8:35).


Ezra 7:10 is one of the key verses God has used in my life: 

For Ezra had set his heart  
1) to study the law of the Lord and  
2) to practice it and 
3) to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.
When I read this verse in my late teens, my heart was resolutely set on a lifetime of the study and application of God's Word and helping others do the same! That is why I do the Bible Book Club: to get others on this wonderful bandwagon with God!

I will make a bold statement and say that you will not get this walk with Jesus if you do not do the same. I have had more women than I can count on both hands who have finally "gotten it" when it comes to God's Word. They come back to me and say; "Now I get what you meant in Bible study (or when we met one-on-one or when you spoke at this event, etc.)!"  Their lives have catapulted into a whole new realm with God, and they wonder why they had not done it sooner.  It does not mean they are better, but when our hearts are set wholly on Him, things are bound to change. Not because of US but because of HIM. He gets all the glory. 

I do not know any other way to have a fulfilling, fruitful, (and fun) walk with Jesus otherwise!

So, I pray you, like Ezra, set your heart on this today!


Your application might be to set your heart to do a deeper study of Ezra 7-10 beyond just reading it. It is only four chapters and a good way to start deeper Bible study! I will be taking you through a character study of Nehemiah, but Ezra is an excellent person to do this for too. It is interesting to compare and contrast their characters also. 

Here are the character study questions:
1. List character qualities and actions that made Ezra an effective leader (note the chapter and verse). 
2. What can you summarize about his prayer life, obedience, suffering, attitudes, responses, and reactions that you can apply to your own life? 
3. What is one way you will personally apply what you have learned from your character study of Ezra (See the Bible Study Tool of APPLICATION in the "Basics of Inductive Study" download here).
(You can do the last step after you do a Nehemiah character study.)
4. Compare and contrast the lives and leadership styles of Ezra and Nehemiah based on your reading of both these books. How did they work as a team? Which of their two leadership styles can you relate to more and why?

Lord, Thank You for the spiritual leadership of Ezra. 
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