One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Thursday, August 8, 2013: Ezra 7:1-8:20
9 On the first day of the first month he began his journey from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. 10 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. Ezra 7:9-10 (NKJV)
Are you ready for your appointment with destiny? Ezra was a "Nobody" who ended up as one of the most significant figures in Jewish history. He did not build the Temple. Zerubbabel did that. He did not build the wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah did that. So what did he do?
Ezra was a priest and a teacher. While Zerubbabel and Nehemiah built outward structures, Ezra filled God's rebuilt house with CONTENT. He is considered by many to be the "father of Judaism." He did four things that prepared him for his own personal date with destiny:
1. He set his heart – decide
2. He studied God’s Law – seek
3. He practiced the Law – do
4. He taught the Law – teach
When God's people returned from 70 years of Babylonian captivity, they had virtually nothing. Moses brought the slaves out of Egypt, but in a spiritual sense Ezra brought the slaves out of Babylon. It was his job to spiritually reconstruct the pure worship of God.
It was Ezra, many believe, who pulled together the books of the Old Testament finally settling the 39 books we now hold. In fact, God used him to write four of them (I and II Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah). Some think he also wrote Esther. It was his task to reconstitute the worship of God minus one major element: THE ARK OF THE COVENANT. It had been lost in the strange years of Israel’s pre-exile weirdness.
Jewish tradition tells us that Ezra formed two institutions that carried forward into New Testament days: the synagogue system and the Sanhedrin. Since there was no Ark of the Covenant in the Temple, there was no final reason for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Therefore all sacrifices could be conducted in “remote campuses.” Ezra was the first to use “multi-site”. It was called the synagogue system. He also formed what became known as the Jewish Great Assembly. This group of scholars, prophets, rabbis, and leaders morphed into the Sanhedrin of Jesus’ day. They formed a whole host of Jewish practices that became Judaism as we know it.
Ezra had prepared himself for the moment God would use him. It is interesting to note that he actually was a “late comer” in the return to Jerusalem. He was not a part of the first group led by Zerubbabel. He does not appear in his own book until chapter 7. There we read about a 4 month cross-country trek from Babylon to Jerusalem. FOUR MONTHS of walking. It takes time to arrive at YOUR TIME.
But, one of the key phrases that appears in this small book is “the good hand of God was upon him.” Though it took a while unfolding, and though the job was immense, Ezra was more than able because of God’s grace.
Are you ready for your appointment with destiny? What we all do now has direct affect on the glorious days ahead. May we each have prepared hearts – seeking minds – consecrated actions --- and then be willing to pass it on.