I'm one of those guys who when reading the Bible prefers to go straight through.
Now after I've read what I want to read in the morning and evening, I'm prone to explore some but generally I go straight-through.
One advantage is that in bouncing we tend to stick with the parts we like best and not read the others.
Ezra last night as I found myself reading the book and asking "What makes this guy so noteworthy that he has his own book
in the Bible?"The main character of Ezra doesn't even show up until chapter 7. I knew that and I'd read it many times before
but I decided to ask what he did this time that made him so significant.
Ezra was a trained priest in the law of God.
His lineage is traced all the way back to Aaron in the book. He comes to Jerusalem after they have finally been allowed to
rebuild the city and the temple. He is sent to train the people in the law of Moses. Over and over his ability with the law
But what would seem to be the biggest action takes place before Ezra gets there. Ezra is not mentioned
in connection with the enemies wanting to resist the rebuilding of the temple or Jerusalem. He is not noted for his debating
skills in answering those opposed to God.
Now I do know that many look at Ezra for his writing contributions. From
what I understand some believe that Ezra translated the law of Moses. I really don't know how he fits into biblical transmission
but if he does, the biblical text makes no mention of it.
What does it make mention of? The foreign wives. Ezra returned
and saw that the people of Israel had already married foreign women and had children by them. Ezra weeps and tears his clothes
and prays for forgiveness on behalf of the nation. What is the result? The people turn to repent and the foreign wives and
their children leave. The book ends.
My first thought was that that really wasn't as great an accomplishment as I thought.
This was before I went to bed though so my mind stayed up as I drifted off to sleep as it always does and I began toying with
a question in my mind. What if Ezra had never been born?
What would have happened? The answer came quickly. Israel's
first cause of rebellion was foreign wives. Foreign women was one thing God warned the people of because they would lead Israel
to follow other gods. Israel had been beaten by evil kings because of that. Ezra returns and what does he see? The same thing.
it all made sense. Ezra is a hero! He is an unsung hero and maybe we don't realize the impact this man had! Because one man
chose to be faithful to his God a nation repented and prevented themselves from having to face, what the book calls, the fierce
wrath of God.
But take this further! This was preparing for Christ also! Christ had to come to a people who respected
the Law of Moses. He had to come to a people who would believe the promises of the law. Had he come to pagan Israel, they
would have paid him no mind for they did not believe the Scriptures or else they would repent.
Thus, Ezra paved
the way for Christ! Because men like Ezra lived, the way for Christ was paved. God was using a simple man with a simple decision
to free the people of foreign wives to change a nation.
The apostle Paul tells the Greek Philosophers on Mars Hill
in Acts 17 that God has decreed the time and place where we should live. Ezra was given that time and place and he fulfilled
it. Friends. What is the reason for the time and the place that we are at? Why are we where we are and when we are?
we will be like Ezra. Maybe we will pave the way for God to change this world.
Think about it.