For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. – Ezra 7:10
Ezra is a man you should keep your eyes on. Watch everything that guy did, whether he was organizing several thousand travelers, rebuking an entire nation, or preaching the Bible. When you watch Ezra you’re seeing Biblical wisdom lived out.
When the Levites would not come and serve at the temple (which is exactly what the Levites were commanded by God to do in Deuteronomy 10 and Numbers 3 and 4), Ezra wouldn’t settle for that. He sent men to go and get some Levites!
Ezra told the King of Persia that God would be able to protect the Jews and all their wealth as they traveled to Jerusalem, so he led his people to pray and fast instead of asking for guards. After all, it would dishonor God to do otherwise!
He commanded Israelites to end marriages that were dishonoring to God. He brought the Bible back to the heart of Jewish life.
Derek Kidner said this about Ezra- “It was he, more than any other man, who stamped Israel with its lasting character as the people of the book.” That’s an amazing statement, isn’t it?
Where did it begin though? It began with that statement from Ezra 7:10. It started with Ezra setting his heart to do three things in his life- to study God’s Word, to Do It, and to Teach It to the Israelites.
Ezra didn’t decide to start reading God’s Word when the King of Persia came calling because the king needed a man to lead the Jews according to their Scriptures. The King came calling because Ezra was already that man!
It didn’t happen over night.
God didn’t send Ezra straight down from heaven, a pre-packaged preacher, ready to go.
The heart is the engine of the person, it’s where their desires, their will, and their beliefs reside. He didn’t have good intentions that he never acted on. He didn’t daydream about knowing God’s word, and one day studying it. He actually began the work of studying. I’m sure it started the way everything starts, by reading one word, one sentence at at time. It doubtlessly took years and years and years of study to become skilled the way he was. I love that word usage too. Skilled. Let’s be real. Reading is a skill. Some people are better at it then others, but we can all improve our skill.
When Jesus is teaching his disciples, he takes them away from everyone else and explains his parables and teaching to them. In Matthew 13:52, he makes this statement: And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
In God’s eyes, a scribe in his kingdom is like a master of a house, they know and have control over everything in that house. They are able to use the treasure of that house to teach, to train, to convict. And the more a scribe has in his house, well, the more he’s going to be able to do for the people he’s teaching.
Ezra also did something else. He didn’t just study the Word, he did it. There are decisions Ezra makes that only make sense if he hasn’t just read the Bible, but he actually believes the God he met on those pages and fully intends on living like that God is who He says He is. His life was nothing less than Biblical study lived out.
What a great thing that is! Set your heart like Ezra. He’s what every Christian, whether you’re a pastor, teacher, parent, friend, or new believer, should aspire to be like. Don’t wait until the day you are needed to set your heart on the Word. Prepare now to be used by God tomorrow!