Monday, December 2, 2019

Ezra Bible Study - Appalled: God's People Fail to Separate Themselves

What can make a man so burdened for others that he pours out his heart to God on their behalf? Like a loving parent, when Ezra prayed (Ezra 9), he was appalled by the blatant ignorance of God's laws by the people of Israel. The Jews weren't always this way. In previous chapters, they stood firm. Ezra's love for God and his people, combined with his knowledge of God, brought him to his knees.

Ezra's prayer has a posture of reverential fear and priestly intercession. Ezra 9:1-2 seems to recall passages from the Law of Moses against intermarriage with the surrounding Canaanite tribes, in particular, Exodus 34:11-16 and Deuteronomy 7:1-4. The failure to separate was more

Monday, November 18, 2019

Ezra Bible Study - Traveling: Weighty Matters

Early in his ministry in Montgomery, during the final difficult months of the bus boycott in 1956, Martin Luther King Jr. preached a sermon to encourage his congregation to live hopeful lives. "Lord, help me to accept my tools. However dull they are, help me to accept them. And then Lord, after I have accepted my tools, help me to set out and do what I can do with my tools.” -MLK  (Source: Michael Hyatt)

The priests were given some tools that were weighty as part of their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. In Ezra 8, after Ezra prays for protection, he distributes the treasure from King Artaxerxes (Ezra 8: 24-30), Ezra and thousands of Jews arrive in Jerusalem safely (Ezra 8:31-32), they perform a delivery check (Ezra 8:33-34), then worship God (Ezra 8:35) and finally relay King Artaxerxes' orders to the local authorities (Ezra 8:36).

Monday, November 4, 2019

Ezra Bible Study - Walking: By Faith

Ezra 8 is a pivotal chapter in this book, for it's where we see Ezra's heart as he narrates the remainder of the book.  At the end of Ezra 7,  Ezra gives thanks before embarking on this journey. Effusive in his thanks, he is grateful that God has placed the opportunity to beautify the temple on the king's heart and extend mercy to him. After giving thanks, he gathers chief men (i.e., leaders) to travel with him to Jerusalem.

Initially, his traveling companions did not include any priests (no one from the tribe of Levi) or Nethinim. It was a large contingent made up of leaders from various families, with 1,496 men in the group. Adding an estimated number of women and children (Ezra 8:21), we can surmise that the total number of the party coming with Ezra in the days of King Artaxerxes was between 6,000 to 7,000 people ( Curiously, no priests were in this group. In essence, besides Ezra,

Monday, October 21, 2019

Ezra Bible Study - Used: The Power of God

At the end of  Ezra 6, it was a time of joyful celebration. We see the first wave of exiles celebrating with joy all that God had done through them.

More than 50 years elapsed between the end of chapter 6 and the beginning of Ezra 7. During this timeframe, the events in Esther take place. The events in the book of Esther occurred from 483 BC to 473 BC, during the first half of the reign of King Xerxes, who chose Esther as his Queen. During this time, the first remnant of Jews who had returned to Judah struggled to reestablish temple worship according to the Law of Moses. But Esther and Mordecai, along with many other Jews, had chosen not to make the trek back to Judah. They seemed content to stay in Susa, the capital city of Persia, in which the story is set (Source:  The sovereignty and faithfulness of God permeated each scene in the book of Esther; this pattern continues in the book of Ezra.