Ezra 7:8–10; 9:1–2, 4; 10:1–5comment (0)
December 14, 2006
By John A. Nixon
Related Scripture: Ezra 7:8–10; 9:1–2, 4; 10:1–5
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Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Following Godly Spiritual Leaders
Ezra 7:8–10; 9:1–2, 4; 10:1–5
More than 50 years separated the finishing of the temple (Ezra 6) and Ezra’s arrival in Jerusalem (Ezra 7).
What Is a Godly Leader? (7:8–10)
Beginning in Chapter 7, God sent Ezra to teach the people the Law of Moses. Six times in Chapters 7–8, the writer emphasizes the sovereign work of God (7:6, 9, 28; 8:18, 22, 35). In short, the text stresses that God restores His word to His people through Ezra.
Ezra was a priest of the house of Aaron (7:1–5) and “skilled in the Law of Moses” (7:6). The writer connects God’s work through Ezra with Ezra’s faith in and obedience to God’s word. Ezra had devoted himself to studying God’s word, doing it and teaching it.
Even King Artaxerxes recognized Ezra as “the priest and expert in the law of the God of heaven” and as one who possesses “wisdom” (7:21, 25). Moreover it was the king who commissioned Ezra to return to Jerusalem and lead the people there. Thus the overall description given in Chapters 7 and 8 is that God has guided Ezra to Jerusalem to teach His word to the people.
Finally Ezra 7:10 is striking. It challenges us to study God’s Word, to obey it and to teach it as God gives us opportunities. Such actions characterize godly leaders.
What Characterizes Ungodly Behavior? (9:1–2, 4)
In Chapter 9, we read an example of the sinfulness of the people as they had failed to live in obedience to God’s word.
The writer clarifies that while the people’s sin involved intermarriage with the people of the land, the real problem was the people’s “unfaithfulness” to God (2–4).
The people, particularly the leaders, did not tremble at the words of God and had disobeyed His commandments (9:10–12).
Ezra was devastated by both the leaders’ and the people’s blatant disobedience to God’s word (9:4–16).
Furthermore Ezra’s prayer makes clear that God’s word identifies and exposes sin (9:10–12, 14). Thus it reminds us that we recognize sin and ungodly behavior in ourselves and in other people by attitudes and actions that are not in accord with God’s Word.
What Does Following Godly Leaders Include? (10:1–5)
As Ezra prayed, “an extremely large assembly of Israelite men, women, and children” followed his godly leadership. They confessed their sins and set their hearts to obey God’s word (3–6).
They turned from their sins by determining to separate from their foreign wives (10:7–11). Moreover they followed Ezra’s leadership as he taught them the word of God. The writer clarifies that their confession, repentance and obedience were expressed both corporately and individually (10:12–17).
Some men, however, continued to be unfaithful to God’s word (10:15). Finally verses 18–44 show the magnitude of the people’s sin by listing those guilty of intermarriage.
Here we see confession and sorrow for sin followed by repentance and change. In fact, Ezra 10:11 well summarizes a proper response to the teaching of God’s Word when it exposes our sin: “Therefore, make a confession to the Lord God of your fathers and do His will.”
In other words, when God’s Word identifies and exposes sin, we should confess, repent and obey.