Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ezra

This is an excerpt from a book I admire and appreciate called, "What the Bible is all about," by Henrietta C. Mears. This entire book is dedicated to making the Bible easy to understand and draws a cultural and historical picture of each book in the Bible. My favorite part is the depiction of the prophet, Ezra:

Ezra, the Scribe
Of Ezra it is said he prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments (Ezra 7:10). His name means "help." He belongs to the great triumvirate of the Old Testament times (Moses, Samuel, Ezra). He wrote and worked to keep the record intact and to hold Israel, God's chosen people, to her divinely appointed mission. We are indebted to Ezra for the literary and ecclesiastical renaissance of that day. He did a work in forming the scripture canon for which he was appointed of God. Tradition makes him the president of a council of 120 men who formed the Old Testament canon.

In addition to Ezra's outstanding ministry of the Word, he probably wrote portions of I and II Chronicles, and Psalm 119 which is a wonderful poem on the Word of God. As we have said, he instituted the synagogue worship which is the parent of our own form of worship, and assisted by the Great Synagogue of which he was president, settled the canon of Old Testament Scripture. It was under Ezra that we see the great revival of Bible study.

Ezra was the Thomas Jefferson of his time, laying the constitutional foundations for the future. To him we are indebted for codifying Israel's laws and the formation of her scripture canon.

When Ezra returned to Jerusalem, he found things even worse than he expected. Although the people had not returned to idolatry, they had intermarried with the people of the land and had done everything that the heathen had taught them (Ezra 9:1-4). The princes and rulers were the worst offenders. Ezra rent his garments and literally pulled out his hair in grief! Read Ezra's touching prayer and confession (9:5-15).

Ezra's Prayer
As Ezra was praying and weeping before God, a great congregation assembled. What happened? (Read Ezra 10:1-44.) The people who had gathered about him through the longs hours of the day came to a consciousness of the greatness of their sin as they saw how it affected Ezra. Finally, one of their number spoke and acknowledged the sin. At once Ezra led them into a sacred covenant with God. Read what God says about confession of sin (I John 1:9):

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

2 comments:

Deanne said...

That is all very interesting about Ezra. It's good to have some kind of background and insight into the people that are featured in the bible. Thank you for sharing! I think I'll read from Ezra today!

btw....I LOVE this template! I had wanted to use it but it didn't go with my flower theme. I'm glad you chose it!

Chris said...

Sorry it's taken me a bit to get over here again. I love the new look! And I learned some stuff about Ezra that I didn't know or had forgotten.