Taken from the intimation sheet: 1 February 2015
…He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the LORD, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him. 7 Some of the Israelites, including priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers and temple servants, also came up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes. 8 Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king. 9 He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. 10 For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.
Last week we remembered that Ezra was a child of God, from the people of God. Before he introduces himself (“this Ezra” v6) he introduces his family tree (v1-5). He knew that he could never have been a priest and would never have been a scribe, were it not for those who had gone before him.
The same is true for us – were it not for faithful stewards of the Gospel throughout the generations, were it not for people who prayed for us and shared with us and taught and trained us in the things of God, we would be in no position to serve him well. We were encouraged to think back to those who have gone before, those who sacrificed much for our spiritual well-being, and to give thanks to God for them.
Ezra looked back with gratitude. But he was very much engaged in the work of God in his generation. What a lesson for us, looking back in gratitude must remind us that now the baton is in our hands and we must run our leg of this great race today. There was work to be done, and Ezra would be counted amongst those found faithful to do it. The Temple had been rebuilt but now there was need for priests, scribes, singers, gatekeepers and temple servants.
Ezra devoted himself to the word of God and the work of God (v10). What of us? What of you? Are you devoted to God’s Word? Are you determined this year to play your part, to use your God-given gifts for building up His people? We have need of deacons, prayer-warriors, youth leaders… How is God calling you today? Will you step forward to serve?
Notice also that Ezra knew ultimately that it was not about his skill or wisdom – it was about God’s gracious and holy hand on his life:
Ezra knew that if he was to be successful in his endeavours it would only be because the Lord’s hand was at work.
You see that time and time again throughout the book of Ezra, twice in the first 10 verses of Ezra 7, he points to the Lord’s hand at work:
Ezra 7:6 The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.
Ezra 7:9 He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him.
And the same is true for us – we dedicate ourselves to the Lord’s work, but we know we will labour in vain unless the Lord himself builds the house.
Unless the Lord’s good and gracious hand sees fit to go with us and bring fruit what will we accomplish?
And so let’s dedicate ourselves not only to acts of service but to prayer, remembering our utter dependence on God himself to bring forth fruit from our service.
Yours in Christ Jesus