For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD,
and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that we’ve been in our study of the book of Ezra since the first of June (give or take a few weeks I had to be out of town). But so far there’s been no sign of the man for whom the book is named. We’re six whole chapters into the story, and yet Ezra is no where to be found. But today’s the big day! We finally get to meet the man himself.
Yet, there’s a reason for his absence up to now. The book of Ezra covers a rather long period of time. It opened in Ezra 1:1 with the decree of King Cyrus in 539 BC allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple. Then, that very year a group of zealous Jews under the leadership of Sheshbazzar (Ezra 1:8) rushed back to Jerusalem to start the work. But due to opposition from their enemies, they soon stopped. It wouldn’t be until sixteen years later that Zerubbabel, with the encouragement of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, finally got it together and – after four years of hard work – finished the temple in 516 BC (Ezra 5-6). So it took twenty years in all from the time Cyrus gave the decree, until the temple was actually completed.
And then, nothing! Fifty-seven more pass between Ezra 6:22 and the beginning of Ezra 7. During that time kings have come and gone (check out the time line on the other side of this sheet). And those who worked so hard to see the temple finished have grown old or died. A new generation has risen to take their place – a new generation who will face different challenges, but who must also learn to depend upon the Lord and the promise of His Word!
And that’s where Ezra comes in. It is at this critical point that God raised him up and equipped him with a deep knowledge and love for God’s word that will enable him to lead this new generation into a life of covenant faithfulness.
Looking forward to seeing God’s faithfulness revealed in Ezra