"THE HAND OF GOD WAS UPON HIM"
1. Here is some background information on Ezra:
A. The Edict of Cyrus--Medo-Persian King -- 536 B.C.
B. Captivity of Judah began in 606 B.C. -- Ended 536 B.C. -- 70 years. Jer. 25:12; 29:10.
C. The first expedition back to Jerusalem led by Zerubbabel. 50,000 "Jews" -- 700 miles -- 4 months journey.
D. Prophets involved -- Haggai and Zechariah.
E. Second temple completed and dedicated - 515 B.C. - 21 years.
F. Ezra led an expedition of 7,000 Jews to Jerusalem 57 years after the temple was completed - 458 B.C.
G. The Book of Esther is the only book that records any of the activities taking place during these 57 years.
H. The conditions in and around Jerusalem had degenerated mightily by the time Ezra arrived.
I. 13 Years later - 445 B.C. Nehemiah led about 50,000 more Jews to Jerusalem.
2. Ezra, even though a captive slave in a foreign land, had the dream of going back to restore the religion God had given to Israel.
A. God made it possible for Ezra to go back to Jerusalem and accomplish his goal.
3. But why pick Ezra?
A. Of the thousands that could have been chosen, why did God select Ezra?
1) I believe the answer is found in the character of Ezra, as it is revealed in our text, Ezra 7:6-10.
4. There were three things which "Ezra prepared his heart to do."
A. These same three things will also cause "the good hand of God" to be upon us today, if we apply them to our lives. Prov. 4:23.
5. Let usnow notice these three things, one by one:
I. EZRA PREPARED HIS HEART TO "SEEK THE LAW OF THE LORD".
A. If we are to expect God's blessings upon us, we must of necessity pay attention to what He tells us.
1. David said: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." Psa. 119:105.
2. Paul said: "I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation...Therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith to faith." Rom. 1:16,17.
3. Jesus said of His gospel: "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Jno. 8:32.
a. There is enough truth in the world to save the whole world if it is applied unto our lives.
b. But truth will not free anyone who does not KNOW the truth.
1) So, we must "Study to show thyself approved unto God..." 2 Tim. 2:15.
a) That is what Ezra did.
b) He knew that knowing God's will would require effort on his part.
c) So, he "prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord."
d) "He was a ready scribe in the law of Moses..." Ezra 7:6.
B. God gave us His will for our lives, revealed in words, 1 Cor 2:13.
1. Peter writes: "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us to glory and virtue." 2 Pet. 1:3.
2. None of us can live any better than we have learned how.
3. God's blessings to us are based upon our knowledge of Him and His word.
4. Whenever Jesus was tempted of the devil, He always answered with "It is written..." Matt. 4:1-11.
5. With every temptation that comes our way, God "provides a way of escape" 1 Cor. 10:13.
a. But we need to notice the basis of our escape from Satan's influence:
1) "Thy word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against thee." Psa. 119:11.
a) So, if we expect "the good hand of God" to be upon us, we must "give heed to reading" and "search the scriptures daily..." 1 Tim. 4:13; Acts 17:11.
II. EZRA PREPARED HIS HEART "TO DO THE LAW OF THE LORD"
A. It accomplishes nothing to learn God's will, unless we do it! Matt. 7:24-27.
1. Jesus asks the question: "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" Lk. 6:46.
2. God's exhortation has always been that which is recorded in Jas. 1:22, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only."
a. Later on James shows that "faith without works is dead." Jas. 2:20.
3. Yes, Ezra prepared his heart to DO what God said.
a. This same attitude is taught in the example of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He prayed, "Not my will, but thine, be done." Lk. 22: 42; Acts 1;1.
b. It is also the attitude that we must have, if we would have "the good hand of God upon us".
B. What is man's purpose upon the earth? For what is he given life?
1. Solomon answers these questions: "Hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." Eccl. 12:13.
2. That answer has ever been true.
a. In Eden, Adam and Eve had the obligation to "do the will of God."
b. And so have we all.
1) Jesus said in Matt. 7:21: "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven."
a) That is the reason Heb. 5:9 states: "He is the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."
b) Peter tells us that we purify our souls "by obedience to the truth", 1 Pet. 1:22.
c) And Paul tells us that we are "then made free from sin", Rom. 6:17,18, when you obey from the heart.
3. Yes, we must hear God, we must listen to Him.
a. But then we must, as did Ezra, seek "to do the law of the Lord."
III. EZRA PREPARED HIS HEART "TO TEACH THE LAW OF THE LORD."
A. God has since the time of Eden spoken to men through other men.
1. Peter says: "Holy men of God spake, as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." 2 Pet. 1:21.
2. The Hebrew writer says: "God spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets..." Heb. 1:1.
3. The Master Teacher, Jesus Christ, chose twelve men and sent them out with the charge:
a. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Matt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15,16.
4. Ezra prepared his heart to teach the law to Israel.
a. In captivity, the regular processes of teaching had not been possible. For 70 years, 606-536 and 78 years, 536-458.
1) So, not only the children, but all of Israel needed to be taught.
a) So does the whole world need to be taught today.
B. The apostles, as they were directed, "went everywhere preaching the word", Mk. 16:20.
1. Those who were converted, "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine" Acts 2:42.
2. When persecution came, "they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word." Acts 8:4.
3. And when they were threatened and beaten, they simply replied:
a. "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Acts 4:20.
4. If we should ask, why are they constantly telling others about Jesus? Jer. 20:9.
a. The answer is: "We believe, and therefore we speak." 2 Cor. 4:13.
C. Israel had the warning in Deut. 6:12, "Then beware lest thou forget the Lord."
1. The generations to come would need to be taught.
a. Read Deut. 6:6,7.
b. Ezra was seeking to restore this order to teach, and so must we.
1) Paul told Timothy: "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also." 2 Tim. 2:1,2.
a) Yes, we too must teach, and we must commit the word to faithful men who shall also teach others.
1. Yes, the "good hand of his God was upon him."
2. And if our attitude and purpose is as that of Ezra, God's hand will be upon us as well.
3. So, let us "prepare our hearts to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach it."
by Jim Sasser
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