1 After these events, during the reign of King Artaxerxes of Persia, Ezra— Seraiah’s son, Azariah’s son, Hilkiah’s son, 2 Shallum’s son, Zadok’s son, Ahitub’s son, 3 Amariah’s son, Azariah’s son, Meraioth’s son, 4 Zerahiah’s son, Uzzi’s son, Bukki’s son, 5 Abishua’s son, Phinehas’s son, Eleazar’s son, Aaron the chief priest’s son 6 —came up from Babylon. He was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which Yahweh, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he requested because the hand of Yahweh his God was on him. 7 Some of the Israelites, priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, and temple servants accompanied him to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes. 8 Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, during the seventh year of the king. 9 He began the journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month and arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month since the gracious hand of his God was on him. 10 Now Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Ezra was used by God to shepherd His people after their return from exile. Verses 1-5 reveal Ezra’s ancestry. His lineage connects him to Aaron, the chief priest of Israel. But this heritage tells us more about God than about Ezra. Ezra’s family tree shows us that God was faithful to raise leaders not only in the original exodus with Aaron, but also in the return from exile with Ezra.
The next thing we learn about Ezra is that he was actively seeking the Lord. Notice in verse 6 that Ezra was “skilled in the law.” Ezra followed the Lord and treasured His Word because he understood the law came directly from God. Ezra walked with the Lord, and “the hand of Yahweh was on him.” The blessing of God led Ezra to a diligent study of the Scriptures. The fruit of Ezra’s study was that he enjoyed intimacy with the Lord.
In Ezra we see natural aptitude combined with diligent effort. He was gifted by God, but he also sought to know God more and more by paying careful attention to his studies. His natural giftedness also gave him favor with King Artaxerxes. “The king granted everything [Ezra] requested.” Notice how Ezra was loved by God and respected by people. These two are not disconnected. Ezra would have learned how to relate to both God and man from the law.
Verses 7-9 provide details for Ezra and the exile’s return to Jerusalem, executed under the gracious hand of Yahweh. Lastly, we read in verse 10 that Ezra determined in his heart to study the law. In contemporary American society “heart” is used to describe the seat of our emotions. In early Jewish literature, this is not the case. To the original audience, “heart” would have included knowing, feeling and willing, activities modern hearers associate with the mind. The heart is the seat of the volition, where we self-direct and self-determine. In other words, Ezra made a conscious effort to know the Lord.
It is clear that knowing God was the guiding principle of Ezra’s life. Verse 10 emphasizes the important progression of study, do, teach. For Ezra, the study of God’s Word was not an end in itself. If you let you study of God stop short of obedience and action, you are missing the point.
I love reading, learning, studying, and gaining knowledge. Those things come naturally to me. But if my Bible intake stops with study, I am being disobedient to the very Word I love to study. To better understand God’s Word and motivate myself to obedience and action I use the simple acronym REAP.
Read the text slowly, and prayerfully. Get a feel for what is going on. Examine the text for deeper truths. What does this text teach about God? About men? About sin? About the gospel? What is the main point? Are there any repeated words or phrases? Apply what you have read to your life. Is there a principle to obey? Is there sin I need to repent of in light of who God is? Lastly, Pray according to your examination and application of Scripture. Talk to God and ask Him to help you apply the truths of Scripture to your life.
- Consider memorizing Ezra 7:10 and meditating on the truths in that verse. How can you better study, obey, and teach the Word of God?
- As we study passages of Scripture we become aware that God is in every word. What does this passage teach us about God? What does it teach us about men? What does it teach us about the gospel?
- What truths have you learned in your study of God’s Word today? How can you apply those truths to your life today?
- What truths from Scripture do you need to share with someone else? Why is it important to obey the Word first, as Ezra did, before you teach it to others?