Read Ezra 6 -- 7
The prophets Haggai and then Zechariah reminded the Israelites in Jerusalem that the real reason the Lord's work went unfinished was because their first interest was in building their own homes. These men of God preached the Word of God and inspired the people to rebuild the Temple: so the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah and the Temple was finished according to the commandment of the God of Israel in about five years (Ezra 6:14-15). Following this, the children of the captivity kept the Passover. . . . For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them were pure, and killed the Passover for all the children of the captivity. . . . And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the Lord God of Israel, did eat (6:19-21).
Nothing is recorded about the Jews in Jerusalem between Haggai and Zechariah's ministry and the coming of Ezra from Persia about 60 years later. Zerubbabel, Haggai, and Zechariah had died by then and another generation had grown up without spiritual leadership.
Ezra was born during the Babylonian captivity. He was a descendant of Aaron, Israel's first high priest (7:1-5; I Chronicles 6:3-15). The key to Ezra's great effectiveness in accomplishing the will of God is clear: Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments (Ezra 7:10). Note carefully the threefold key to Ezra's great success: Ezra prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord. The word seek implies a determined effort to know all of God's Word. The second qualification for the Lord's great blessing upon his life was that Ezra committed himself to do the Law. And third, he planned to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
This means that Ezra planned to teach the whole Law, not just a few popular promises that he felt would appeal to the people. Ezra's first concern was to prepare his heart. This was the key to the blessing of God upon Ezra and the key to his ability to overcome the spiritual indifference that had developed in Jerusalem. We are reminded three times that God's hand of blessing was upon Ezra (7:6,9,28).
Ezra's life was committed to seeking, doing, and teaching God's Word. Note that his study of Scripture wasn't simply to prepare his next lesson or sermon, a reminder that, if we want God to bless our lives or our ministries, then we too must set our hearts upon the whole counsel of God, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).
Ezra is an example of how God will use the person who will take His Word seriously and study to shew thyself approved unto God . . . rightly dividing the Word of Truth (II Timothy 2:15).
Christ Revealed: Through the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Ezra 6:22). Jesus said: I am the Bread of Life (John 6:35), and He was without sin (leaven) (Hebrews 4:15).
Word Studies: 6:1 house of the rolls means where records were kept; 6:4 king's house means royal treasury; 6:15 Adar compares with Feb/Mar; 7:21 the river means Euphrates.
Government Officials: Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (MD), Rep. Ken Bentsen (TX), and Rep. Solomon Ortiz (TX) · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Shortwave Radio Outreach · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast in memory of Donald Eric Barker · Country: Laos (5 million) in Southeast Asia · Major languages: Lao and French · Great suppression of all Christian activities · 58% Buddhist; 33% belief in spirits and ancestor worship; 2% Christian; 1% Muslim · Prayer Suggestion: Seek God in prayer with your whole heart and He will hear you (Jeremiah 29:12-13).
Optional Reading: II Corinthians 5
Memory Verse for the Week: II Timothy 2:15