The Hand of God was Upon Ezra

Ezra Reads the Law

Following the Babylonian captivity, the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland and, with the blessing of the king of Persia, rebuild the temple. Ezra, a priest and scribe, was sent back to the land after the temple was completed. During this time God was with him. The Scriptures also explain why He was with Ezra.

For on the first of the first month he began to go up from Babylon; and on the first of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, because the good hand of his God was upon him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:9-10).

This passage contains four reasons why Ezra found favor with God. We would do well to learn from Ezra’s example here. These are the same things we must do today to find favor with God.

Ezra Set His Heart – Ezra was able to please God because he made a conscious decision to do so. Pleasing God does not happen by accident. It takes diligence and determination on our part. In looking forward to the end of this present world, Peter wrote, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14). We must make a choice – to follow God or not. This is a daily decision that must be made, as Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). If we want to please God, we need to do as Ezra did and set our hearts to follow Him.

Ezra Studied the Law – The text says that Ezra was “skilled in the law of Moses” (Ezra 7:6). How does this happen? The only way is through diligent study. This is the same thing God expects of us: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We must study God’s word in order to gain faith (Romans 10:17), for “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Ezra Practiced the Law – God has always expected obedience from His people. Yet many in the denominational world will insist that obedience is unnecessary. The Scriptures, however, teach that Jesus is “to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9) and that He will return in order to deal out “retribution…to those who do not obey the gospel” (2 Thessalonians 1:8). We must do more than just hear the word; we must do it (James 1:22). If our faith is not an active, obedient faith, then it is a dead faith (James 2:26). Peter wrote, “For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous” (1 Peter 3:12), indicating favor and fellowship. The way we become righteous is by practicing (doing) righteousness (1 John 3:7).

Ezra Taught the Law – If one is to teach, he must first have a good understanding of what he is teaching (1 Timothy 1:6-7). This also goes back to our point on the importance of studying. We have the responsibility to teach according to our ability and opportunities (1 Peter 3:15), but we must teach in the proper way. Notice how Ezra and the Levites taught the people: “They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8). This is what we must do – read from the Bible in order to demonstrate that we are discussing God’s words and not man’s, explain it, and teach it in a way that will cause people to understand it. We cannot expect people to obey what they do not understand.

God was with Ezra. He will be with us today as well if we do the things that Ezra did to invite God’s favor – set our hearts to please the Lord, study His word, obey His word, and teach His word to others.

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