Ezra (Letter 15, Larry Crabb’s 66 Love Letters)


In the first six chapters I tell you the story not of Ezra but of Zerubbabel, whom I chose to lead 50,000 people back to the land years before Israel returned. Then in the last four chapters I tell the story of Ezra, a student of the scriptures, who led another few thousand Jews to Judah to remind everyone of My primary concern for holiness over prosperity or pleasure. As you read this letter – better named Restoration to the Narrow Road – and as you imagine yourself reading it as a Jew living in the not-so- glorious post-exile days in the land of promise, hear this: it will again release tears of hope in you as I intended it to do in My people.

As soon as His people settled in the land of promise, they rebuilt the altar. To return to the narrow road, we need only surrender our will to His.

Four months later under Zerubbabel, His people began to rebuild the temple. We are here to live the new way, to draw close to Him in order to be formed into the likeness of His son.

Opposition to rebuilding the temple came quickly. We, too, will face opposition for the battle to be holy will become so difficult and the narrow road so steep and tough that we will leave the narrow road for a season.

They had wandered off the narrow road by marrying foreign women. Hear this: We must remain alert to compromised spiritual leaders who entice us more with the hope of blessings than with the promise of holiness, who lead us to think that His love makes Him more concerned with our present comfort than our eternal joy. Resist them. Leave their churches. Do not attend their conferences or read their books.

Radical repentance followed, painful, costly repentance under Ezra’s leadership.

Ezra – The Way Back: Topic – From Ray Stedman<-(click here for entire Bible summary)

Zerubbabel led about fifty thousand people from Babylon back to Jerusalem – the first return.

Their first act was to build an altar on the original temple site. There was a sense of restoration, a sense of restored personal fellowship. That is what God is after.

The second thing they did was to lay the foundation of the temple. Tears of joy mingled with tears of sorrow as the people saw the temple being relaid.

The third factor in this return under Zerubbabel is the opposition that immediately develops. So-called friends used legal means to undermine Israel’s authority and right to build. It is only when you are in fellowship, with the temple built, that the Passover can bring joy to you.

The latter part of the book concerns the ministry of Ezra. He was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses which 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 upon him. Wouldn’t you like to have that written of you,
“the king granted him all that he asked”?
… Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to do it, {Ezra 7:10a RSV}
We may be Bible students, but are we Bible doers?

… to study the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach his statutes and ordinances in Israel. {Ezra 7:10b RSV}
As a result, Ezra could ask anything of the king and the king would grant his request.
Ezra 9 – …For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for their sons;…

Now, after seventy years, they hadn’t learned a thing. The flesh never changes.
This is what Jesus meant when he said, “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children … he causes you to sin, cut it off,” {cf, Luke 14:26, Matt 5:30}.
Be ruthless in these things! Put them away!

Ezra – David Jeremiah (Understanding the 66 Books of the Bible)

Key thought: In showing how the returning exiles rebuilt their temple, city, and nation, Ezra teaches us to rebuild areas in our lives that have been damaged or defeated.

Key Verse: Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions. Ezra 8:21

Key Action: In rebuilding anything, we must start with the altar — reestablishing the Cross of Jesus Christ at central to our lives and activities.