(May 07, 2022) Brian Bell challenges us to be a worthy servant like ‘a man named Ezra’ …
With these four almost inconspicuous words contained in chapter 7 of the book of Ezra, we are introduced to the character of Ezra.
The book of Ezra tells us about the return of Jewish exiles from Babylon, beginning with those who returned with Zerubbabel and at a later time with Ezra. Ezra and the other exiles who returned to Jerusalem with him, got there about 13 years before the return of Nehemiah and other exiles, described in the book of Nehemiah.
The primary action carried out by the returning exiles as described in Ezra, was the reconstruction of the temple led by Zerubbabel, Ezra’s role is what I would describe as leading ‘spiritual renewal’ or ‘revival’ while the focus of Nehemiah was the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls which is replete with spiritual applications.
I believe both Ezra and Nehemiah could be said to be men who were ‘directed’ by the Holy Spirit, while those words are not specifically used when speaking of them, I believe it is borne out in the scriptural descriptions given of them. In this meditation I will share only some thoughts about Ezra.
Ezra was a man…
1. Of the word
In verse 6 of chapter 7 we are told ‘Ezra was a scribe well versed in the law of Moses’. We are also told in verse 12 that Ezra was ‘the priest, the teacher of the law of the God of heaven.’
Teaching God’s word is not left to the intellect of men, it is Holy Spirit inspired and enabled! I believe that…
- A principle work of the Spirit is to give us a desire to read, meditate and obey God’s word.
- It is the Spirit who illuminates our understanding of God’s word.
- As the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, His work is to help us live in the light of that truth.
2. Blessed by God
In verse 6 and also in verse 9 we are told ‘the gracious hand of the Lord his God was on him.’
I am reminded of that Proverbs 10:22 scripture, ‘the blessing of the Lord makes a person rich (in spirit) and he adds no sorrow with it (it does not disappoint).’ I understand the context of this verse in Proverbs relates to the ‘enrichment’ of the lives of God’s children.
This enrichment of spirit is not dependent on our material wealth nor of our physical health. As the apostle Paul testified when he asked to Lord to remove his ‘thorn in the flesh’ the Lord told him ‘my grace is sufficient for you, my strength is made perfect in weakness.’
I know a number of God’s people who have recently gone through difficult times, some because of serious illnesses… they too have proved this truth and experienced the blessing of God with enrichment of spirit in those situations.
3. With a purpose
In verse 10 we are told ‘Ezra had determined to study and obey the law of the Lord and to teach… to the people of Israel.’
Ezra’s determination signifies a purpose driven man, but I believe a spirit driven purpose, it was not simply some personal goal he had set for himself, while it required commitment from him.
It is no different for us today. I have to say honestly I could not claim to have the measure of purpose demonstrated by Ezra; however, I am very grateful for all the Lord has made possible in my life.
4. Of wisdom
In verse 25 we read some words set out in a letter/decree of King Artaxerxes ‘… you Ezra are to use the wisdom God has given you.’
A pagan king recognised the hand of God on Ezra and how it equipped him for the challenging tasks to be undertaken. I love the response of Ezra as recorded in verse 28 ‘I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the Lord my God was on me.’
5. Who reminds me that…
The Holy Spirit enriches and encourages God’s children!
I am reminded of that time way back in Jerusalem, when a group of believers were assembled in a room some seven weeks after the resurrection. They were a mixed group of people, not entirely sure of their direction and so far as we know with no real influence in the world of their day.
But even as God had a purpose for Ezra, so He had for those first Christians! The Holy Spirit fell on them and He empowered them, encouraged them, equipped and enriched them.
Then they went out into the world and with the help of the Holy Spirit the gospel message was spread and continues in this very day. A hymn writer (H Tee) has summed it up so well in the words of his song They were gathered… and I quote verse three:
‘Tis the covenanted promise given
To as many as the Lord shall call,
To the fathers and their children,
To Thy people, one and all;
So rejoicing in Thy word unfailing,
We draw nigh in faith Thy power to know –
Come, O come, Thou burning Spirit,
Set our hearts with heavenly fire aglow.’
It’s Pentecost Sunday June 5… sadly we may too often think of Pentecost as an experience of the past, yet I too should be looking to the Holy Spirit today to set my heart with heavenly fire aglow.
May you be too… and, like Ezra, be a wise servant of God, greatly blessed by Him, knowing His word and purpose driven!
Brian Bell is a diaconate member, Christ Church (Congregational) Abbots Cross, Northern Ireland, and a volunteer with Disabled Christians Fellowship Ireland. He describes himself as ‘grateful for the privilege and opportunity given me to serve my Lord.’ Link: Living Life on Purpose