Today we finally meet the title character of this book. Ezra is described as a descendant of Aaron, the chief priest, a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD the God of Israel had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him. Accepting the dates of both this chapter and Persian records, Ezra is sent to Jerusalem around 458 B.C., almost sixty years after the temple was completed.
With the king’s commission he was to make inquiries about Judah and Jerusalem according to the law of your God… to carry the silver and gold that the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel… to buy bulls, rams, and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings… and to appoint magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the province Beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God. And those who do not know them, you shall teach.
This commission has a multifaceted purpose. On the one hand, Ezra thanks the God of our fathers, who put such a thing in the heart of the king to beautify the house of the LORD that is in Jerusalem. Ezra also has authority to appoint magistrates and judges, which releases control to the ancient laws, customs, and people of Judah. The king is not only supporting worship of the LORD. He is trusting Ezra to maintain order in Jerusalem, which we’ve already read is notorious as a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from of old.
Notice little details in this short narrative: how Ezra’s wisdom and knowledge of the law are revealed… how Ezra recognizes the hand of the LORD is on him… how he stops to pray for humility and safety… and how the administrative and worship details are carefully attended to and recorded.
Our verses for this week are Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Ezra 7 and 8. Now let’s read it!
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.