Notes on Ezra
1:1-2:35 - To ‘all’ of us, God gives His call. We are to ‘rebuild the House of the Lord’. To ‘all’ of us, He gives His strength: ‘Then... all those whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the House of the Lord’ (1:3,5). If the work of God is to be done, every one must play their part. No one must opt out. No one must say, ‘There’s nothing for me to do’. There’s always something to do. There’s something for every one. God has so much work for us to do. We must not fail Him. He is calling you to serve Him. He will give you the strength that you need. Open your heart to Him. Surrender your life to Him. ‘Every person in every nation, in each succeeding generation, has the right to hear the news that Christ can save... Father, I am willing to dedicate to Thee, life and talent, time and money. Here am I, send me’.
2:36-3:13 - At the heart of God’s work, there is worship - ‘praising and giving thanks to the Lord’. This is our first priority. We must not forget the Lord. We must remember that ‘He is good’. We must remember that ‘His steadfast love endures for ever’ (3:11). Nothing can take the place of worship. This is where serving the Lord begins. It begins with worship. Without worship, we cannot serve the Lord. He must be at the centre of everything we do. This is what serving the Lord means - keeping Him at the centre of everything you do. We look for ‘more love’, ‘more power’, more of God’s blessing in our lives. We must give ourselves - more fully and more truly - to Him: ‘I will worship You with all of my heart... with all of my mind... with all of my strength’ (Songs of Fellowship, 392). The blessing will come down as the worship goes up!
4:1-5:17 - God’s work does not always move forward smoothly. We face determined opposition. Where there is opportunity, there will be opposition (1 Corinthians 16:9). The servants of Satan rise up to oppose the servants of the Lord. This is what happens here. The Lord’s enemies had some success: ‘the work on the House of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill’. This was, however, only a temporary setback. God gave new strength to His servants. He sent His ‘prophets, Haggai and Zechariah’. They brought His Word to the people. Strengthened by their ministry of God’s Word, ‘Zerubbabel... arose and began to rebuild the House of God in Jerusalem’ (4:24-5:2). God’s work was back on track. His people were moving forward - again. When your head goes down, let the Lord come to you. He will lift you up!
6:1-7:28 - God’s work makes good progress when God’s people receive strength from God’s Word. Haggai and Zechariah were faithful in preaching God’s Word to the people. Their preaching ministry was very important. It was just what the builders needed. It inspired them to keep working. God’s House was rebuilt and God’s people rejoiced (6:14-16). The rebuilding of God’s House was followed by the ministry of God’s servant, Ezra. ‘The hand of the Lord was upon Ezra’ (7:6,28). His ministry was blessed by the Lord. In Ezra’s ministry of the Word, there are three vital elements - studying, doing and teaching (7:10). Ezra did not only study and teach God’s Word. He did God’s Word. Obedience lies at the heart of true ministry. This is the kind of ministry that God blesses - an obedient ministry.
8:1-36 - The return of God’s people to Jerusalem was not simply a geographical return - moving from one place to another. It was a spiritual return. They were returning to the Lord. They were seeking His blessing (21). Without God’s blessing, we are nothing. We may have happy memories of better days, recalling ‘the good old days’. We may look back to times of blessing, remembering how the hand of the Lord was upon us. If this is all we have, we have nothing. We are no longer in the place of blessing. We need to return to the Lord. The times of blessing can come again. God gives us His promise: ‘The hand of our God is for good upon all that seek Him’ (22). God wants to bless us. How much do we want to be blessed by Him? If the times of blessing are to return to us, we must ‘return to the Lord’ (Isaiah 55:6-13).
9:1-10:44 - The return of God’s blessing begins with a real confession of sin - ‘our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens’ (9:6). If God chooses to bless us, it is not because we deserve to be blessed by Him. It is because He loves us and wants more than anything else to pour out His blessing upon us. Despite all of our sin, God’s Word encourages us to believe that the Lord may yet ‘grant us a little reviving’. Pray that God will ‘grant us some reviving to set up the House of our God’ (9:8-9). This was Ezra’s prayer. It was the prayer of ‘a very great assembly of men, women and children’ (10:1). If prayer for revival is real, it will be much more than pulpit prayer. There will be much prayer, arising from the hearts of many people: ‘If My people pray... I will heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14).