For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel. (Ezra 7:10)
Ezra’s Three-Fold Plan
The destruction of Solomon’s Temple occurred in 586 B.C. when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and carried off the people. Seventy years passed according to the word of the Lord before the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland. The first captives to return to Jerusalem faced great hardship as the city was in ruin, with walls destroyed and the gates burned. It would take nearly twenty years to complete the second Temple under great persecution. Zerubbabel and Jeshua spearheaded the restoration along with the brethren, priests, and the Levites.
Ezra was a priest and skilled scribe in the Law of Moses who lived in Babylon at the time of the second temple’s building. About fifty-seven years after the temple’s completion, Ezra came to Jerusalem. He was on a mission for the Lord. The work of restoring worship and the teaching of the Law was paramount to the work of Ezra. With the blessing of King Artaxerxes, Ezra brought papers of authority to establish himself and to bring silver and gold to buy bulls, rams, lambs, grain, and drink offerings to offer on the altar of the house of God. He prayed to the Lord for safety on his journey, refusing the escort of soldiers and horsemen from the king.
One of the first things Ezra faced when he arrived in Jerusalem was the intermarriage of the Jews with the people of the land. This distraught Ezra greatly, and he begged for the grace and mercy of God to forgive the people. While Ezra prayed to the Lord, the people gathered and wept bitterly for the transgression of the people to intermarry with the people of the land. A decree was made for the people to put away their pagan wives, and in solidarity, the pagan wives were put away.
The story of Ezra’s return to Jerusalem is one of faith, courage, devotion, and dedication to the word of God. How did this priest and scribe journey to Jerusalem without an armed escort from the king? Facing the many problems of the people, including the intermarriage with pagan wives, how could Ezra hope to affect change and bring the heart of the people back to the Lord? It all began before Ezra left Persia. The Holy Spirit says that Ezra prepared his heart to do three things: he would seek the Law of the Lord; he would do what the Law of the Lord said; and he would teach the people the Law of the Lord.
Faith begins in the heart, but faith without works is dead. Ezra had faith in God and prepared his heart to serve the Lord, but he had a huge task ahead of him. He had to seek the Law of the Lord to understand what God required of him. Faith comes from hearing the word of God. It does not come through osmosis and magically appear. A heart must be devoted to seeking, reading, and knowing what God’s word says. No one can know the word of God without opening the word of God. Ezra was a diligent seeker of what the Law of the Lord said.
Knowing the word of God was not enough. The second part of the ‘Ezra-Plan’ was to do what God said. Understanding the word of God will have no value if the heart is unwilling to practice what the law says. Whatever the Law of the Lord said to do, Ezra planned on doing it. When faced with the reality that many of God’s people had married pagan wives, Ezra sought the Law to know what to do. He read the Lord forbade the people to marry from other nations. After seeking the Law of the Lord and finding out what God required, Ezra did what the Lord said. He was not just a hearer of the word; he was a doer of the word of God. The people put away their foreign wives in accordance with the Law of the Lord. Ezra sought the word of the Lord and did what the Law of the Lord required.
Finally, as a priest and scribe, Ezra taught the people what the Law of the Lord said. The book of Nehemiah describes how Ezra took the Book of the Law of Moses and, in the presence of the people in the open square that was in the front of the Water Gate, Ezra read the word to the people from morning until midday. He read the book distinctly, gave the people the sense, and helped them understand the reading. Seeking the Law of the Lord and doing it also required teaching the people the Law. The people needed to know the statutes and ordinances of the Lord, and Ezra accomplished that.
Ezra lived five hundred years before the church began in Jerusalem at Pentecost. His three-fold plan is the foundation of the New Testament church. The people of God must seek the Law of the Lord, do it, and teach statutes and ordinances in the church. That is how the church grows. The lost are brought to Christ by disciples who prepare their hearts to teach the word. They show the word in action, and they show the word in practice. Prepare your heart. Seek the Law of the Lord. Do what the Law of the Lord says. Teach others the Law of the Lord. Thank you, Ezra.