Finding Christ in Ezra

 

 

EZRA:  While Gautama Buddha was living and teaching in India [c. 560-480 BC], Confucis in China [551-479 BC] and Socrates in Greece [470-399 BC] the One True and Living God sent His servant Ezra. As the Lord’s chosen messenger, he was to stir up the Remnant to return to their God. From 457 BC [the dates of the events in Ezra 7-10] and 444 BC when Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem this book was written by Ezra. Tradition ascribes two of the great spiritual events of the past to Ezra. He is credited with the collection of all the Old Testament into one unit and with the founding of the first synagogue. Other traditions credit him with leading the gathering that defended the spurious writings from being put into the Scriptures. All told he was a great servant of the Lord!

 

We can outline this book into two clear sections:

 

I.                  The Return under Cyrus by Zerubbabel 1:1-6:22 and the Rebuilding of the Temple

II.              The return under Artaxerxes by Ezra 7:1-10:44 and the Rebuilding of the People.

God had told the Jews they would return in the writings of Jeremiah 70 years before it happened. Isaiah had also written 170 years before, that the one who would accomplish the bidding of God was not even a believer. He would be a pagan king named Cyrus! God names him before he even was born.

 

The two themes that run throughout this book are: Consecration and Separation.

I.                  God wants Consecrated servants! Consecration is seen in the desire the people and their leaders had to restore the true worship of the Lord. The people of God faced great opposition, their adversaries were half breeds from the time of II Kings 17. Pagans imported by the Assyrians to hold the land for the kingdom of Assyria. These semi-heathen Samaritans were the chief of problems in 4:1, 9, 10. They were taught to fear God and serve idols, and that they did. They are Consecrated at the Altar = Cross of Christ Ezra 3:2 Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as [it is] written in the law of Moses the man of God. (KJV)

II.              God wants separated Servants! Separation = no intermarriage Ezra 9:1 When these things were done, the leaders came to me, saying, "The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. (NKJV). Separation is seen in the work of Ezra. He was earnest in his desire to purify the people of God and never turned back. He found 112 cases of intermarriage in direct disobedience to Mosaic law and dealt with every one of them.

A.                WORLDLINESS blocks! 1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that [is] in the world -- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life -- is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (NKJV) James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (NKJV)

B.                PILGRIMHOOD brings! Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced [them] and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (NKJV)

C.                ONE MASTER Blesses! Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (NKJV)

III.         Ezra teaches precious truths about God, Worship and Sin.

A.                The Lord of Heaven and Earth can be KNOWN: Ezra 1:2 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which [is] in Judah.

B.                The Lord of Heaven and Earth can be WORSHIPED: Ezra 3:11-13 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD: "For [He is] good, For His mercy [endures] forever toward Israel." Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers' [houses,] old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard afar off. (NKJV) Ezra 6:16 Then the children of Israel, the priests and the Levites and the rest of the descendants of the captivity, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. (NKJV)

C.                The Lord of Heaven and Earth can be SINNED AGAINST: Ezra 9:3-4 So when I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished. 4 Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel assembled to me, because of the transgression of those who had been carried away captive, and I sat astonished until the evening sacrifice. (NKJV)

IV.            Ezra traces the major steps in the victorious Christians life. These are traced through the steps the Remnant of Israel had to take in following God.

A.                They had to return to the Land [1-2] This is confession and obedience, back to a proper relationship with God. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NKJV)

B.                They had to rebuild the Altar [3:1-6] This is the renewal of their position as the chosen sons and daughters of God. This speaks of our consecration as we return to the foot of the cross and reaffirm His ownership. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit [who is] in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. (NKJV)

C.                They had to rebuild the Temple [3:8-13] This was their service and witness in action. This speaks of the need we have to a proper role and relationship with worship in their lives. Matthew 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.' " (NKJV)

D.               They had to resist and overcome Adversaries [4] This is learning how to deal with TEMPTATION- 2 Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (NKJV)

E.                They had to listen to the Prophets [5:1-6:14] This has to do with our relationship to the Word and the Spirit Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (NKJV)

F.                 They had to finish the temple [6:15-22] This speaks of the walk of the believer in fullness of the Spirit and in constant worship. Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, [which is] your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what [is] that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (NKJV).

 

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