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,