Ezra: A Faithful Example
God wants to do something in you that only you and He together
can accomplish. He wants to write Himself across all the pages of your
life, which happens when you allow His Word to take control of your
heart, mind, and life. Ezra experienced this when he … prepared his
heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes
and ordinances in
Word, and faithfully practiced it, Ezra then led others to do the same.
Ezra was a testimony of how to faithfully live a Word filled life.
Until I began studying Ezra’s life in depth, I never knew much
about him. I always thought: Ezra? That is one of the more boring
books of the Old Testament. What’s the deal with Ezra? As a result
of my studies, however, he has become a monumental person in my
mind. Finally, I understand why, to the Jews, only Moses eclipses
Ezra in Jewish history.
Ezra’s life has touched each Jew and every Christian to this day.
The Jewish people revere him as the one who launched the Jewish
synagogues and perpetuated the study of the Word of God. In fact,
synagogues still follow the reading schedule Ezra devised 2,500
years ago. They read in a certain spot every time they gather in an
ongoing through-the-Scripture study. And it is Ezra who copied all
the Scriptures into the Hebrew form we have today. The entire Old
Testament is the product of his careful work.
Under the inspiration of God, Moses began recording the Bible
3,500 years ago. Since Moses was from
basic understanding of language learned in the Egyptian schools.
After Moses, 500 years later, David wrote another large portion of
the Bible under the influence of the Phoenicians in whose realm he
lived. The Mosaic writing in that Egyptian and the Phoenician–style
Hebrew all came to be the collection of books we now know as the
As time progressed, except for the scholars, the old forms of written
Hebrew became unreadable to later generations. At that moment
in Jewish history one man stepped forward to remedy this problem—
Ezra. He copied every word of the Old Testament canon into what we
now call Biblical Hebrew. God used him to pull together the group
we know as the scribes, men who faithfully and tirelessly copied the
Word. Ezra captured the Biblical Hebrew, codified it, made it consistent,
and brought it forth to be copied, and recopied, again and again,
until the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls and modern manuscripts from
which we get our present-day Bible.
It is interesting that Ezra wasn’t in school when he did this.
God told him, “Leave what you are doing and travel up through
who are there.” Ezra was in
walked 975 miles to get to
50,000 people, a worldly congregation saturated in the ways of
Some of them, abandoned by the Babylonians, left to till the land;
others were returnees with Zerubbabel; and about 5,000 of them
(1,500 of them men) came with Ezra. But a very worldly Babylonian
group of people, some of which had basically lost their faith, had
been so deeply affected by the Babylonian and Persian influence they
barely knew or believed in God.
What if you and I had to go face 50,000 or more people like that?
What would we do? Ezra 7:10 reveals the proper answer, and not just
for Ezra 2,500 years ago, but for all who desire to do what God has
planned only for them.
I have a simple philosophy of life: planned neglect. I purposefully
plan to neglect everything except what God wants me to do. Why? I
can only achieve well what God wants me in particular to accomplish.
Ezra also had a very simple philosophy of life: “If I am going to bring
lasting change to those I am called to serve, I will have to start with
my own life.” He lived out that philosophy by learning to point his
heart frequently toward doing God’s will.
Ezra 7:10 defines the secret of his towering success:
… Ezra had prepared … [to establish, set up, accomplish, make
firm; to direct toward (moral sense); to arrange, order]: Ezra just
packed up and got ready to go. He prepared by meditating on God’s
Word so everything was put in order in his heart, to make him receptive
to what God wanted.
… his heart to seek … [to resort to, frequent (a place); to consult,
investigate, to ask for, require; to practice, study, follow]: Ezra learned
from the Lord, and readied his heart to follow God. That is a great
way to look at what God wants from us.
… the Law of the LORD, and to do it … [to observe, celebrate,
to acquire]: “Do” is an interesting word. Ezra wanted to observe and
celebrate the Lord, acquire Truth from Him, and then live it so he
would be prepared to teach others.
… and to teach statutes and ordinances in
the Word, and living by it, he wanted to fulfill God’s calling by leading
others to follow what he had learned.
What was the result of Ezra’s deep commitment to the Word of
the Lord? I personally believe the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm
119, is Ezra’s testimony of the effects in his life from meditating on
God and His Word. I have read every available commentator and
commentary on this subject, and opinions vary. Mostly, they say
Psalm 119 could have been written by David, Hezekiah, Nehemiah,
or perhaps Daniel. But, after much research, and forty years of reading
this psalm, I am persuaded the one man who copied every single
character of the text of every single book of that Old Testament, and
brought it into uniform ancient Biblical Hebrew, was Ezra, chief of
the scribes, who started the synagogues and the reading of the Word
of God. Hence, references to Ezra throughout this book will be from
this frame of reference.
Not only am I persuaded Psalm 119 is Ezra’s testimony, but I
believe it is also the probable content of his teaching and preaching
to the exiles who came home to
Psalm 119 beautifully reveals Ezra’s Word filled life and, by both
example and instruction, he exhorted others to do the same. That
worshipful love for God and His Word led to radical changes not
only in Ezra’s life but also in countless other lives for the past 2,500
years. Just these verses alone should be enough to convince anyone of
Ezra’s deep devotion and commitment to the Lord: (Emphasis added
to the verses below.)
• I will praise You with uprightness of heart, when
I learn Your righteous judgments (v. 7).
• I will keep Your statutes; oh, do not forsake me utterly! (v. 8).
• I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways (v. 15).
• I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word (v. 16).
• I will run the course of Your commandments,
for You shall enlarge my heart (v. 32).
• I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts (v. 45).
• I will speak of Your testimonies also before
kings, and will not be ashamed (v. 46).
• I will delight myself in Your commandments, which I love (v. 47).
• My hands also I will lift up to [in my hands I will carry] Your
commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on Your
statutes (v. 48). Literally, God’s Word was close at hand!
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