Sermons

Wed, May 09, 2018

Ezra 7-8


After 6 chapters Ezra comes on the scene. The year is 458 B.C. Its at least 60 years after the Jews first returned to Jerusalem. Zerubbabel lead the first group back to Jerusalem. Ezra leads a second expedition from Babylon to Jerusalem to help strengthen the struggling settlers. His purpose is different as the temple is built. He is teaching God’s Word so the people know how to worship the Lord and also how to live lives that are pleasing to God. God prompted Ezra to go and to teach the people. God’s leading is exciting in that He works in us before He works through us.
Series:Ezra
Duration:53 mins 49 secs

Ezra 7


After 6 chapters Ezra comes on the scene. The year is 458 B.C. Its at least 60 years after the Jews first returned to Jerusalem. Zerubbabel lead the first group back to Jerusalem.

 

Ezra leads a second expedition from Babylon to Jerusalem to help strengthen the struggling settlers. His purpose is different as the temple is built. He is teaching God’s Word so the people know how to worship the Lord and also how to live lives that are pleasing to God. God prompted Ezra to go and to teach the people.

 

God’s leading is exciting in that He works in us before He works through us.



1 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, 
2 the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, 
3 the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, 
4 the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, 
5 the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest--

 

We see Ezra’s linage traced back to Aaron the high priest.

 

Not just 60 years have passed but 60 largely uneventful years have passed between Ezra chapter 6 and chapter 7. The ruler of Persia at the end of that period was Artaxerxes, who is also known to history as Artaxerxes Longimanus, the successor to Xerxes, the king who married Esther.

 

The events that we read about in the Book of Esther took place between Ezra chapters 6 and 7.

 


6 this Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given. The king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.



In his commentary on Ezra, David Guzik points out…

 

“To us a scribe sounds like a glorified secretary, someone who simply writes. That is not the idea of this description of Ezra. For the Jewish culture of that day, a skilled scribe was an expert in the Law of Moses, someone who was like a highly trained lawyer in the word of God.

 

“In his case it is emphasized by the word skilled, or literally ‘rapid’ (cf. Psalm 45:1) – suggesting a quickness of grasp and ease of movement amid this complex material which was the fruit of the devoted study described in verse 10.” (Kidner)

 

Scribes were important and influential, and one might say that they had three main duties:

1. to preserve the Word of God,

2. to teach the Word of God,

3. and to administrate the Word of God (in the sense of interpreting and applying it).




7 Some of the children of Israel, the priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the Nethinim came up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes. 
8 And Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. 
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 is a model of what a man or woman can do to prepare themselves for the work of the Lord… Guard your heart, be ready in and out of season. Seek God with all your heart.

 

Determine in advance to not just study the Word of God but to act on what the Lord reveals to you.

 

Be open and available to teach God’s Word to others. Help them learn to listen to God by being obedient to the Lord.

 

Ezra was a good helper. His name actually means “Help”.

 


11 This is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave Ezra the priest, the scribe, expert in the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of His statutes to Israel:

 

From verse 11 here in chapter 7 all the way to verse 14 of chapter 8 we read of how king Artaxerxes almost half blindly aides in accomplishing God’s plans for His people. God can use anyone, willingly or unwillingly to achieve His purposes. The blessing is ours when we are used willingly.

 


12 Artaxerxes, king of kings, To Ezra the priest, a scribe of the Law of the God of heaven: Perfect peace, and so forth. 
13 I issue a decree that all those of the people of Israel and the priests and Levites in my realm, who volunteer to go up to Jerusalem, may go with you.

 

This second group of Jews coming from Babylon back to Jerusalem with Ezra is 1,700.

 

It took them 4 months to make the roughly 900 mile journey. The direct route was about 500 miles but the travelers would have followed the Euphrates River which would have added the additional miles.

 

The best part of this trip is that Artaxerxes financed the entire mission trip. You have to love how God provides for His Work.

 

13 years from now this same king, Artaxerxes will authorize Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Not all pagan kings were evil towards the Jews as we see Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes all showed favor to the Jews.  


14 And whereas you are being sent by the king and his seven counselors to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, with regard to the Law of your God which is in your hand; 
15 and whereas you are to carry the silver and gold which the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem; 
16 and whereas all the silver and gold that you may find in all the province of Babylon, along with the freewill offering of the people and the priests, are to be freely offered for the house of their God in Jerusalem-- 
17 now therefore, be careful to buy with this money bulls, rams, and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them on the altar of the house of your God in Jerusalem. 
18 And whatever seems good to you and your brethren to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, do it according to the will of your God. 
19 Also the articles that are given to you for the service of the house of your God, deliver in full before the God of Jerusalem. 
20 And whatever more may be needed for the house of your God, which you may have occasion to provide, pay for it from the king's treasury. 
21 And I, even I, Artaxerxes the king, issue a decree to all the treasurers who are in the region beyond the River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, may require of you, let it be done diligently, 
22 up to one hundred talents of silver, one hundred kors of wheat, one hundred baths of wine, one hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribed limit. 
23 Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it diligently be done for the house of the God of heaven. For why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?

 

Artaxerxes motive was simple. He didn’t want to upset the gods of the people and the territory he conquered and make life miserable for he and his family. The concept of coexisting isn’t new. The pagan kings of the Persian Empire were practicing it 1000’s of years ago.


24 Also we inform you that it shall not be lawful to impose tax, tribute, or custom on any of the priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, Nethinim, or servants of this house of God.



Tax exempt status for those doing the work of the Lord.

 


25 And you, Ezra, according to your God-given wisdom, set magistrates and judges who may judge all the people who are in the region beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God; and teach those who do not know them.

 

Quite a compliment the king gives Ezra here. The king recognizes Ezra’s love for the Word of God.


26 Whoever will not observe the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily on him, whether it be death, or banishment, or confiscation of goods, or imprisonment.

 

Artaxerxes gave Ezra the authority to practice corporal punishment if needed.


27 Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem,

 

Ezra recognized that this kind of broad favor had to come by the hand of the Lord God.

 

(Proverbs 21:1) “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”


28 and has extended mercy to me before the king and his counselors, and before all the king's mighty princes. So I was encouraged, as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me; and I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me.

 

Ezra was encouraged not as much by the favor of the king to support the work he had been called to do but rather that the hand of God was upon him. Life doesn’t get any better than that than to know God is with you. Talk about confidence!



Ezra 8

 

Verses 1-14 we read a list of the major families of the Jews that came with Ezra from Babylon and the numbers who came with them.

 

1  These are the heads of their fathers' houses, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of King Artaxerxes:

2  of the sons of Phinehas, Gershom; of the sons of Ithamar, Daniel; of the sons of David, Hattush;

3  of the sons of Shecaniah, of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah; and registered with him were one hundred and fifty males;

4  of the sons of Pahath-Moab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him two hundred males;

5  of the sons of Shechaniah, Ben-Jahaziel, and with him three hundred males;

6  of the sons of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him fifty males;

7  of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him seventy males;

8  of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah the son of Michael, and with him eighty males;

9  of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred and eighteen males;

10  of the sons of Shelomith, Ben-Josiphiah, and with him one hundred and sixty males;

11  of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah the son of Bebai, and with him twenty-eight males;

12  of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him one hundred and ten males;

13  of the last sons of Adonikam, whose names are these--Eliphelet, Jeiel, and Shemaiah--and with them sixty males;

14  also of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai and Zabbud, and with them seventy males.

 

1514 total… if you add the women and children and you have about 4,000-5,000. That number is small in comparison to the 50,000 who came with Zerubabbel. So sad in one sense knowing the number of Jews who could have come but encouraging in another sense

 

All we know about these men is they share Ezra’s heart to disciple the children of Israel in the things of God found in the Word of God. A small number of people were concerned about the Word of God. The people were content with the lives they lived in Babylon.

 

The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.

 

In verse 15 its noted that none of the sons of Levi were found in the caravan…

 

15  Now I gathered them by the river that flows to Ahava, and we camped there three days. And I looked among the people and the priests, and found none of the sons of Levi there.

 

They camped for three days to make final preparation.

 

No sons of Levi were there… So sad… You’d think they would have jumped at the opportunity.  

 

The Levites were different from the priests, being the larger tribe from which the family of priests (the descendants of Aaron came from). You were not a priest simply because you came from the triple of Levi but all priests were from the tribe of Levi as Aarons sons.

 

These were the essential workers for the system of temple worship that Ezra was to promote.

 

Its possible the Levites were generally speaking had become too comfortable with their lives in Babylon to go back to Jerusalem. Or maybe they were just not willing to come back to their ancestral temple duties that put them under the authority of the priests. Whatever the reason was, Ezra had the money and the authority he needed, but he didn’t have the man power.

 

Legend has it that “A rabbinic midrash on Psalm 137 relates that there were Levites in the caravan returning to Jerusalem but that they were not qualified to officiate because when Nebuchadnezzar had ordered them to sing for him the songs of Zion, ‘they refused and bit off the ends of their fingers, so that they could not play on the harps.’” (Yamauchi)

 

In verses 16-20 Ezra deals with the problem of the lack of Levites. To Ezra the situation was unacceptable.

 

16  Then I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, leaders; also for Joiarib and Elnathan, men of understanding.

17  And I gave them a command for Iddo the chief man at the place Casiphia, and I told them what they should say to Iddo and his brethren the Nethinim at the place Casiphia--that they should bring us servants for the house of our God.

18  Then, by the good hand of our God upon us, they brought us a man of understanding, of the sons of Mahli the son of Levi, the son of Israel, namely Sherebiah, with his sons and brothers, eighteen men;

19  and Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, his brothers and their sons, twenty men;

20  also of the Nethinim, whom David and the leaders had appointed for the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty Nethinim. All of them were designated by name.

 

Verse 17: I gave them a command . . . that they should bring us servants for the house of our God: With this, Ezra sent back to Babylonia for Levites to come and join the work in Jerusalem. He didn’t accept the initial failure of Levites to join the group but kept appealing for help.

 

Ezra planned carefully in the Levite recruitment effort. He specifically chose the recruiters – nine leaders, and two men of understanding to make the appeal as persuasive as possible. Then he carefully instructed the recruiters as to what they should say, and directed them who specifically to make the appeal to (to Iddo and his brethren). Indeed, the good hand of our God was upon the recruitment effort, but it was also upon the planning of it.

 

“Iddo the chief; the head of the rest, either by ecclesiastical order or government, which the Persian kings allowed to the Jews; or by some grant or commission from the king.” (Poole)

 

They brought us a man of understanding . . . namely Sherebiah: This man responded to the call and led a delegation of Levites.



Ezra prays for protection in verses 21-23

 

21  Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions.

22  For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, "The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him."

23  So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.

 

Verse 21: I proclaimed a fast . . . that we might humble ourselves before our God: Ezra understood the spiritual power of fasting, as a demonstration of our dependence on God, of our single-minded devotion to God and His cause. Therefore he called a fast, and saw that He answered our prayer.

 

As with any spiritual discipline or duty it is possible to fast without the right heart and to trust it as an empty ritual, apart from its true spiritual reality. Real fasting – fasting that is partnered with real repentance, and isn’t only about image – has great power before God (Matthew 17:21).

 

Verse 21: To seek from Him the right way: “Literally ‘a straight way’ unimpeded by obstacles and dangers.” (Yamauchi)

 

Verse 22: For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort: Ezra had previously expressed great confidence in the hand of God upon him and his expedition. He did not want to contradict these prior words with later actions, in asking the king for an escort of soldiers and horsemen.

 

They needed protection because the danger was real. There was a constant threat of robbers and bandits along the way (over 700 miles), especially because they were transporting so many valuables. Yet because of their dependence on God (expressed through prayer and fasting), God protected them.

 

“The voluntary gifts of the king were welcome. They were expressions of the king’s sense of the greatness of his God. These Ezra accepted with gratitude. It would have been quite another matter if he had asked the king to help him do what he had declared God was able to do for him.” (Morgan)

 

Ezra was more concerned about the glory of God than he was for his own safety.

 

Nehemiah will ask for an escort and it will be granted to him.



Verse 23: So we fasted: They put their faith into action. Their actions demonstrated their dependence upon God.

 

Verse 23: And God honored their request. He answered our prayer!

 

In verses 24-30 we read of the distribution of articles to be offered among the tribal representatives.

 

24  And I separated twelve of the leaders of the priests--Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them--

25  and weighed out to them the silver, the gold, and the articles, the offering for the house of our God which the king and his counselors and his princes, and all Israel who were present, had offered.

26  I weighed into their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, silver articles weighing one hundred talents, one hundred talents of gold,

27  twenty gold basins worth a thousand drachmas, and two vessels of fine polished bronze, precious as gold.

28  And I said to them, "You are holy to the LORD; the articles are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to the LORD God of your fathers.

29  Watch and keep them until you weigh them before the leaders of the priests and the Levites and heads of the fathers' houses of Israel in Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the LORD."

30  So the priests and the Levites received the silver and the gold and the articles by weight, to bring them to Jerusalem to the house of our God.

 

There was a massive amount of wealth distributed among the leaders.

 

With the receiving came responsibility and risk. It would take faith to receive the holy articles as in doing so they would become targets of robbers along the way.

 

One day we will all give an account of what has been trusted to us.

 

It’s not unusual for the gifts of God to come under attack. Just step out in faith and let God use you and watch what happens along the way.



In verses 31-32 we read of the final departure and the ultimate arrival in Jerusalem.



31  Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. And the hand of our God was upon us, and He delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambush along the road.

32  So we came to Jerusalem, and stayed there three days.

 

And the hand of our God was upon us: Ezra here repeated what is now a familiar phrase. God’s hand was indeed upon them to protect, guide, and bless them.

 

“God never fails those who act in full dependence on Himself, and so in complete independence of all others.” (Morgan)

 

So we came to Jerusalem: So ended the fourth-month journey from Babylonia to Jerusalem. Ezra – together with the entire group – was now in the Promised Land and in the land promised to their ancestors.



In verses 33-34 there is an accounting of all the silver and gold articles.

 

 

33  Now on the fourth day the silver and the gold and the articles were weighed in the house of our God by the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest, and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas; with them were the Levites, Jozabad the son of Jeshua and Noadiah the son of Binnui,

34  with the number and weight of everything. All the weight was written down at that time.

 

“According to Babylonian tradition, almost every transaction, including sales and marriages, had to be recorded in writing. Ezra may have had to send back a signed certification of the delivery of the treasures.”



In verse 35 we read of the sacrificial offerings made to the Lord by all those who returned from the captivity. The very first thing they do is make sacrifice to the Lord. Ezra isn’t just a good student, he is a good worshiper. A new level of spirituality has arrived in the person of Ezra.

 

35  The children of those who had been carried away captive, who had come from the captivity, offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel: twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and twelve male goats as a sin offering. All this was a burnt offering to the LORD.

 

Offered burnt offerings: These burnt offerings were to make peace with God for sin in general and to show the peoples commitment and dedication unto the Lord. The entire animal was burnt as a sacrifice to God.

 

Twelve bulls for all Israel: “Though the majority of those represented would have been from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, they offered a bullock for every tribe, as if present which leaves little doubt that there were individuals there from all the twelve tribes, possibly some families of each.”

 

“The reason for offering seventy-seven lambs is not so obvious, whatever conjectures about the perfect number it may seem to invite.” (Kidner)

 

As a sin offering: The sin offering was made mostly for the idea of purification, especially for specific acts of transgression. Taking both sacrifices together (burnt and sin offerings), we can see that they addressed both the problem of sin (addressing the general sin problem) and sins (addressing the problem of specific sins).



In verse 36 Artaxerxes orders were read to the people.

 

36  And they delivered the king's orders to the king's satraps and the governors in the region beyond the River. So they gave support to the people and the house of God.

 

…And they delivered the king’s orders: This would especially have been the commands given by King Artaxerxes giving special authority to Ezra (Ezra 7:25) to administer the Jewish law among his countrymen.

 

Verse 36: So they gave support to the people and the house of God: This reminds us of the great purpose of Ezra’s expedition. In the final two chapters we will see Ezra administering strict correction as a reformer; but he did not come primarily as a disciplinarian. He came to give support to the people and the house of God, and only dealt with the problems of sin and compromise as necessary in the course of this greater goal.



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.

 

They have not separated themselves from the idolatry of the pagan culture around them.

 

2  For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass."

 

The scarlet thread of redemption is at risk here. The Abrahamic bloodline would be at risk through intermarrying. Our Savior was to be born from the family line of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.

 

Sin, is missing the mark, falling short of the biblical standard.

Trespass is a deliberate act, it’s not an accident, its willful disobedience.

 

These leaders are committing trespass.

 

Ezra is now going to learn why God sent him to Jerusalem. God knew that there was not a man there to teach the people the Word of God. Ezra’s love for God and his obedience to God impacted the people, even the priests.

 

Ezra’s return stirred the heart of the people.

 

God’s Word prohibited the intermarrying into the gentile nations so as to not lose their spiritual distinction.  

 

Exodus 34:11-17  

11  Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I am driving out from before you the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.

12  Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst.

13  But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images

14  (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),

15  lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice,

16  and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods.

17  You shall make no molded gods for yourselves.



Deuteronomy 7:1-4,  

1  "When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you,

2  and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them.

3  Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son.

4  For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly.



When God tells us not to do something He doesn’t need to explain it. There isn’t enough time to explain all the things God forbids but we can trust there is wisdom behind everything.

 

The same wisdom is expressed in the New Testament.

 

2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” 


Its easier to pull someone down than it is to lift someone up…

 

3  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.

 

Ezra was beside himself that the leaders could allow such a thing like this to happen. To tear your garment was to express grief and a sense of being out of your mind.

 

During times of grief the men would shave their heads. Ezra cant find a razor fast enough. He begins to pull out his hair.

 

The children of Israel are practicing the very sins that led them into captivity.

 

This is Ezra’s response to the casualness of sin among God’s people, not the world around us.

 

We cant be to obedient or to holy, or to Christ like… in our Christian life.

 

Don’t be afraid to be spiritual…

 

God has not saved us from sin for us to go back into bondage and under the judgment of God. God has saved us to be conformed into the image of Christ. God came to transform us not to simply clean us up and make a better version of our old self.

 

Romans 12:1-2,  
1 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.



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.

 

They trembled because they knew they were guilty… they remembered the consequences of their previous idolatry… it led them into captivity.

 

The right response to the Word of God is to live in fear of God.

 

To live in reverence of God is complimentary to the grace of God.  



5  At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God.

6  And I said: "O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens.

 

He falls on his knees in humility and surrender. The sin is so great it has rose up to heaven. God’s people knew better. The world doesn’t know any better. The world do

 

7  Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation, as it is this day.



8  And now for a little while grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.

9  For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.

 

Your goodness is being repaid in this way…

 

10  And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken Your commandments,

 

He included himself in humility…

 

11  which You commanded by Your servants the prophets, saying, 'The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land, with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their impurity.

12  Now therefore, do not give your daughters as wives for their sons, nor take their daughters to your sons; and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land, and leave it as an inheritance to your children forever.'

13  And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, since You our God have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such deliverance as this,

14  should we again break Your commandments, and join in marriage with the people committing these abominations? Would You not be angry with us until You had consumed us, so that there would be no remnant or survivor?

15  O LORD God of Israel, You are righteous, for we are left as a remnant, as it is this day. Here we are before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!"

 

The breakthrough occurs in Jerusalem as Ezra is praying to God…  



Ezra 10

 

1  Now while Ezra was praying, and while he was confessing, weeping, and bowing down before the house of God, a very large assembly of men, women, and children gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept very bitterly.

 

Holiness brings conviction not compromise.

 

Ezra was expressing outwardly what the people were sensing in their spirit.

 

Rally around righteousness!!!!

 

2  And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, spoke up and said to Ezra, "We have trespassed against our God, and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this.



Trespass. No ignorance here, we did it deliberately!

 

Here is how you fix the problem…

 

Godly sorrow always brings about repentance… its not just being sorry but doing something different.  

 

3  Now therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and those who have been born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.

 

Repentance is never easy… The cost can be great… but no matter the cost its worth it. He is worthy!

 

4  Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it."

5  Then Ezra arose, and made the leaders of the priests, the Levites, and all Israel swear an oath that they would do according to this word. So they swore an oath.

6  Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib; and when he came there, he ate no bread and drank no water, for he mourned because of the guilt of those from the captivity.

 

Ezra continues to mourn because up to this point all he has are words. He will end his mourning when the repentance bears fruit…



7  And they issued a proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the descendants of the captivity, that they must gather at Jerusalem,

8  and that whoever would not come within three days, according to the instructions of the leaders and elders, all his property would be confiscated, and he himself would be separated from the assembly of those from the captivity.

9  So all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered at Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth of the month; and all the people sat in the open square of the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of heavy rain.

10  Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, "You have transgressed and have taken pagan wives, adding to the guilt of Israel.

11  Now therefore, make confession to the LORD God of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives."

 

Confess…

Make it right…

 

12  Then all the assembly answered and said with a loud voice, "Yes! As you have said, so we must do.

13  But there are many people; it is the season for heavy rain, and we are not able to stand outside. Nor is this the work of one or two days, for there are many of us who have transgressed in this matter.

14  Please, let the leaders of our entire assembly stand; and let all those in our cities who have taken pagan wives come at appointed times, together with the elders and judges of their cities, until the fierce wrath of our God is turned away from us in this matter."

 

They made a proposition to wait so they could examine the situations carefully…

 

Everything must be done decently and in order

 

Jewish man could marry a gentile woman if the woman converted to Judaism.  

15  Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahaziah the son of Tikvah opposed this, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite gave them support.

16  Then the descendants of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, with certain heads of the fathers' households, were set apart by the fathers' households, each of them by name; and they sat down on the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter.

17  By the first day of the first month they finished questioning all the men who had taken pagan wives.

 

A list of the offenders…

 

18  And among the sons of the priests who had taken pagan wives the following were found of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brothers: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah.

 

The priests, the levites, the worship leaders and on and on the men made things right…

 

19  And they gave their promise that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they presented a ram of the flock as their trespass offering.

20  Also of the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah;

21  of the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah;

22  of the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.

23  Also of the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (the same is Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.

24  Also of the singers: Eliashib; and of the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri.

25  And others of Israel: of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, Jeziah, Malchiah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malchijah, and Benaiah;

26  of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Eliah;

27  of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza;

28  of the sons of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai;

29  of the sons of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Ramoth;

30  of the sons of Pahath-Moab: Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh;

31  of the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Ishijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,

32  Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah;

33  of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei;

34  of the sons of Bani: Maadai, Amram, Uel,

35  Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluh,

36  Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,

37  Mattaniah, Mattenai, Jaasai,

38  Bani, Binnui, Shimei,

39  Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah,

40  Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai,

41  Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah,

42  Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph;

43  of the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, and Benaiah.

44  All these had taken pagan wives, and some of them had wives by whom they had children.

 

The men still supported their pagan wives even after the women returned to their homes.

 

Every generation is responsible before God. Ezra was a good man who impacted his world in an amazing way. One man, one woman, living and walking in holiness can change the course of history.

 

We all want to hear ‘well done good and faithful servant.’



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