COULD OUR CONGREGATION USE AN EZRA?
Ezra was both a priest of God and a scribe (Ezra 7:11). He is described as “a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses” (Ezra 7:6). In about B.C. 458/457, Ezra led a group of some 1500 Jews from the region of Babylon, where the Jewish people had been in exile, back to their homeland of Judah.
Ezra was a genuine leader. God saw that, Ezra’s fellow Jews saw that, and so did King Artaxerxes, the king of the Medo-Persian Empire. There is one particular Bible verse that gives us a clear insight into the type of person that Ezra was. That verse is Ezra 7:10, where it is written, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.” There are four points that “jump out” at us in this text.
(1) Ezra had prepared his heart. What kind of person would Ezra be? That all depended on his heart/mind. The Master said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil . . .” (Luke 6:45). It all goes back to the heart. We see that same truth presented in a unique way in Jesus’ Parable of the Sower. It is the one with an honest and good heart that continues to bear fruit to the glory of the Lord (Luke 8:15).
It was Ezra’s responsibility to prepare his own heart. There may have been others who taught Ezra, encouraged him, and set a good example for him. All of those are extremely helpful to any person that has a desire to serve and please Jehovah. But, even when one receives such a positive influence, in the end it is each person that must prepare his/her own heart to do what is right. God’s clear instruction reads, “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
(2) Ezra had prepared his heart to SEEK the law of the LORD. Here the word “seek” does not mean that he was trying to locate God’s law, but rather that he was wanting to learn His law. We all could use a healthy dose of that kind of desire! We recall the Bereans, who searched the Scriptures daily in order to determine if what they heard from Paul and others was correct (Acts 17:11). Blessed is the person who delights in God’s law and meditates in His law day and night. The Bible says so (Psalm 1:1,2). Regardless of what other tasks we might have on our schedule for this year, let every one of us make a renewed commitment to be like Ezra and diligently seek God’s law. Doing so pays tremendous dividends!
(3) Ezra had prepared his heart to DO the law of God. Ezra realized that God gave the Israelites the Law of Moses, not just so they could say that they had it, and not simply so they could seek and learn it. No, God gave it to them so that they would obey it. That is exactly what Ezra had made up his mind to do – do whatever the God of heaven commanded. God had earlier told Joshua, “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you: do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7).
What is it that Christians are told about doing what God’s word says? “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). The universal principle for servants is simple: “. . . I say . . . to my servant, Do this, and he does it” (Luke 7:8). As the Lord’s servants, we want to obey Him, right?
(4) Ezra had prepared his heart to TEACH in Israel statutes and judgments. Our picture of Ezra is not complete without this fourth piece of information. We must not miss it! Ezra prepared his heart, he wanted to seek God’s law, wanted to obey God’s law, and he wanted to teach His law. As children of God, we must not be satisfied just knowing His word. Nor should we be satisfied with the fact that we live according to its instructions. We must go beyond knowledge and living holy lives to teaching God’s word to others. One sign of spiritual maturity is being able to handle “the meat” (Hebrews 5:12-14). Another factor in spiritual maturity is our ability to impart what we know to others. That same context in Hebrews 5 bears this out. Each Christian has a different level of teaching ability. My task is to use whatever level of knowledge and teaching capability that I have to teach others. Lost people must be taught! Our children must be taught! Saints of God must be taught! God’s church needs teachers in order to carry out its work.
Again, what was it that Ezra did? He “prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach. . .” So, it is now conclusion time. Could this congregation use an Ezra? What local church would not be better off with such a man in its midst?! In fact, this congregation, as well as all others, could use a bunch of Ezras! May God help us to appreciate the type of person that Ezra was and strive to imitate his attitude and commitment to serving God faithfully.
— Roger D. Campbell
TRUTH is published monthly by the Klang church of Christ in order to help educate, edify, encourage, and equip the saints of God.