Ezra, an Excellent Example of Resolution for the New Year

“On the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia” (Ezra 7:9).1

When Ezra set out on this journey, he was resolved to see it through: “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 ESV). He had been tasked by God and even a pagan king to lead thousands of people to Jerusalem, deliver gifts from Babylon, and set the worship of the temple in order (see all of Ezra 7–8). In doing so, he had to be ready to teach after finishing what would be a four-month journey (cf. Ezra 7:9). From Ezra 7–8, here are a small handful of resolutions that all of us should make.

Be prepared, be in the Word, and do what the Word commands.

Ezra was “scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the Lord, the God of Israel, had given” (Ezra 7:6). He was “learned in matters of the commandments of the Lord and his statutes for Israel” (Ezra 7:11). He was known as “Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven” (Ezra 7:12, 21). There is no way Ezra could have asked for what Israel needed for the nation’s temple worship if he had not studied it and known it in advance (cf. Ezra 7:6). Having studied the Law of the Lord (cf. Ezra 7:10), Ezra was prepared to ask for what was necessary, deliver it, and even lead thousands of people along the way. The more we ready ourselves for God’s service through being in the Word and in prayer, so also can we be used in a mighty way, whatever the task may be.

Teach the Word to others.

Ezra was uniquely born into the priesthood and commissioned to teach others to obey the Law. While not all of us might be skilled to teach in front of others, we are all responsible for the Great Commission to one degree or another, making disciples as we are able, teaching  them to observe the commandments of Christ (Matt 28:18–20). This may be indeed like Ezra, formally teaching the Word, or it may be by example or personal conversation, naturally as relationships are formed in the church (cf. Titus 2:1–8). In knowing and living the Word, we will be able to example and teach it to others.

Be courageous.

Ezra “took courage,” knowing the favorable “hand of the Lord God” was on him (Ezra 7:28; cf. 7:9, 28; 8:18, 22, 31). He asked bold questions (Ezra 7:6), led God’s people through difficulty (Ezra 8:21–23), and took full advantage of the faithfulness of God. Likewise, as we see God clearly laying good works before us in the year ahead, may we be courageous to do what God has given us to do.

What will your new year hold for you? How will you be in the Word? What will you do for God? As you are resolved to serve the Lord, be courageous to do His will!

  1. All quotes ESV. []

An Overview of Ezra

 A Focus on Ezra

Written no earlier than 450 B.C. and probably by Ezra himself, Ezra continues the story from when 1 and 2 Chronicles ended.

Three returns, accomplishments, and leaders go together at this point in Israel’s history. At the first return in 538 B.C., Zerubbabel led Israel to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1–6). At the second return in 458 B.C., Ezra led reform among the people (Ezra 7–10). At the third return in 444 B.C., Nehemiah led the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.

As the story goes, Cyrus proclaimed Israel could return to Jerusalem (1:1–4), and many did (1:5–2:70). The temple was built and celebrated (3:1–6:22). Highlights included that the foundation was laid (3:10–13), and then building was opposed and stopped (4:23–24). It continued (5:1–2) and was opposed again (5:3; 6:6, 13), only to backfire and propel Israel into finally finishing the work (6:13–18). After returning to Israel with others (7–8), Ezra led reform in the issue of intermarriage with the Gentiles (9–10).

Ezra within the Bible

Looking back, Ezra shows God’s faithfulness to the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 12:1–3, 7). He was bringing Israel back to her land, preserving His people, and blessing them in the reconstruction of the temple. Also, the Law of Moses is clearly the basis for Ezra’s reforms in marriage (Exod 34:16; Deut 7:3).

Looking ahead, though God knew the nation would reject Jesus in time (cf. Acts 2:23), Israel would be in her land to have the offer of receiving her Messiah and King.

Recommended Reading

For further study of the book as a whole, see the introduction for the book above in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985). For a brief overview of the use of the above book in the Bible as a whole, see the entry for the book above in the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, edited by T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000).