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Lesson #14

  • Memory verse: Joel 2:26
  • Perspective and review:
    • Up to this point in the book of Ezra we have not seen the Ezra, author of the book.
    • The first part of the book dealt with the first group of Israelites that returned from the Babylonian captivity under Zerubbabel in 536 BC.
    • The first part of the book of Ezra dealt with the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.
      • We used that theme to discuss how the original temple built by Solomon was a glorious temple of gold, silver, and precious stones
      • Solomon’s temple represents the believer as the temple of the Holy Spirit.
        • Spiritually speaking the construction of Solomon’s temple represents God’s glorious plan for the believer who lives in God’s perfect will.
        • Unfortunately all believers do not live in God’s perfect will or fulfill God’s glorious plan for their lives.
      • Therefore, the temple in the book of Ezra represents the carnal Christian who falls short of God’s perfect will.
    • The last part of the book of Ezra deals with the second group of Israelites that returned from the Babylonian captivity to the Promised Land with Ezra in 458 BC.
      • Seventy eight years have passed since the beginning of the book of Ezra.
      • The temple was finished.
      • What led to a second group’s return to the Promised Land?
        • A revival occurred among those Israelites who remained in Babylon.
        • God moved on the hearts of those left in Babylon to return to the Promised Land.
        • With revival came restoration in God’s plan to bring all the Jews back to the Land. Therefore, God raised up Ezra as a leader to bring the people back.
  • Read Ezra 7:1, 6-10
    • The king is now Artaxerxes 464 – 423 BC
    • This king gave Nehemiah permission to return to the Promised Land with the third group of Israelites in order to rebuild the city walls of Jerusalem in the book of Nehemiah.
    • Who was Ezra?
      • He was a teacher of the Word of God.
        • The Bible calls him, “a ready scribe in the law of Moses”. (6)
        • Teaching is what Ezra did in Babylon since he could not perform any priestly duties there.
        • During the years of waiting for God to call him to return to the Promised Land, he used those years to study and prepare himself in the Word of God.
      • He was a descendant of the grandson of Aaron, the high priest with Moses.
      • He was a qualified priest in line to be the high priest. However, when the first group returned to the Promised Land, there was no temple in which to perform any priestly duties.
    • Now, 78 years later, there is a temple and God calls him to return to the Promised Land.
    • Ezra led a group of about two thousand Jews back to the Promised Land. It took them 5 months to walk from Babylon to Jerusalem.
      • This group lacked any priests, so Ezra waited until 38 Levites were persuaded to join the group. The new temple in Jerusalem would need priests.
      • There were 220 Nethinims. Who were these people?
        • The word, Nethinim, means “given ones”.
        • They were temple servants who were the descendants of foreign prisoners of war.
        • Their duties were to carry wood and water for the Levites in Solomon’s temple.
  • Read Ezra 7:11-28
    • Ezra carried with him a letter and gifts from Artaxerxes.
      • This letter included permission to leave Babylon…
        • ….according to a person’s freewill desire to go. (13)
        • ….according to a person’s leading from the God of heaven. (12)
      • The gifts included silver and gold from Artaxerxes to God. (15)
        • Notice that Artaxerxes had a great reverence for God and believed that the God, Jehovah, lived in Jerusalem. (15)
        • This was the common belief among the Jews when God inhabited the temple of Solomon.
    • Verse 23 gives us the purpose for Artaxerxes’ generosity.
      • His motive was to prevent bitterness and hatred among the Jews for the captivity in Babylon.
      • He wanted to cover all the bases to appease Israel’s God so that Artaxerxes’ kingdom would live in peace.
    • The king’s protection and command over Ezra
      • Artaxerxes promises protection over Ezra and these returning Jews. (24)
        • No one should molest or hinder their travel.
        • No one should tax them or any of the gifts that Araxerxes sends with them.
      • Ezra is given the order to establish a judicial system of magistrates and judges.
        • By doing this, Ezra must teach the people in Israel to follow the laws of God.
        • As the people follow the laws of God they will be good citizens to follow the laws of the Persian government.
      • The legal system Ezra is to establish must have the following attributes: (26)
        • A speedy justice.
        • A death penalty.
        • Banishment.
        • Confiscation of property.
        • Imprisonment.
    • Ezra gives praise to God for His hand on King Artaxerxes and on these returning people. (27-28)
  • Ezra 8:1-14 gives us the genealogy of those who returned to the Promised Land with Ezra.
  • Read Ezra 8:15-36
    • The first thing Ezra did to begin the journey was to proclaim a fast for God’s protection on the trip.
      • Why was this important?
      • Ezra knew they must walk by faith and not use the physical army of a pagan king. They are going to trust God’s protection against any enemies along the way who may be tempted to steal the riches they carried with them.
        • In the same way, believers in Jesus Christ must learn to walk by faith trusting in God and not in the things of the world.
        • Walking by faith in unity with other believers brings us to where God wants us to be.
    • Then Ezra weighed all the material wealth and divided it among the chief priests and Levites. It was their responsibility to see that it all arrived safely in Jerusalem. They would weigh it again once they arrived in Jerusalem to be sure that everything arrived safely.
    • Ezra is faithful to tell us that everything arrived safely in Jerusalem because of God’s protection.
  • Application:
    • When we start out on our journey as a Christian, after we have received Christ as our savior, we must learn how to walk by faith in order to mature in Christ.
      • We must learn his perfect will for our lives by studying the Word of God.
      • We must put into practice what we learn so that our life experience does not become out of balance.
        • When our head knowledge gets too great we become top heavy and puffed up with pride.
        • Practicing what we learn by obedience keeps us in balance.
        • Read James 1:22

Ezra 9 and 10

  • Application of Ezra 7 and 8
    • You can know that you are in God’s perfect will if God is blessing you, if you are in peace, if you are moving forward in your walk with God.
    • On a scale between one and ten, rate whether you are a doer of the Word or a hearer only. (one being low and ten being high)
    • How can you improve your walk by becoming a better doer of the Word?
  • Preparation for Ezra 9 and 10
    • Read Ezra 9
      • What was the prevalent sin among the people?
      • Why was it important to God that the people not marry pagan people?
      • Why do you think Ezra was so surprised?
      • What did Ezra do about the situation?
      • What is unusual about Ezra’s prayer? (6-15)
    • Read Ezra 10
      • What do you learn about revival?
  • Memory Verse: 2Cor 6:14
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