EZRA OVERVIEW

Ezra Overview

The Book of Ezra does not specifically name its author, although scholars believe it to be the Priest Ezra. Interestingly we will witness that Ezra does not appear in the book until chapter 7.  At this point the writing switches from third person to first person which lends credibility to scholars believe and study as to who the author actually is.  The date of the writing is believed to be between 460 and 440 B.C

Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one book in the Hebrew Bible.  They both give and account for one of the most important events in history…the RETURN from exile.  Both books have a lot in common:

  1. They both cover about 100 years of history.
  2. They both begin in Persia but end in Jerusalem.
  3. They begin with a king’s decree.
  4. Both books include prayers of confession (Ezra 9 and Nehemiah 9).
  5. Both books end with the purification of their people.  An important chapter to reread would be Jeremiah 29 because it goes along with both the Book of Ezra and the Book of Nehemiah.

The Book of Ezra is devoted to events occurring in Israel at the time of the return from Babylonian captivity (which began in 538 BC) and the years following their return.  The emphasis in Ezra is on the rebuilding of the Temple. It covers the return from captivity to rebuild the Temple up to the decree of Artaxerxes, which is the event covered at the beginning of the Book of Nehemiah. Haggai was the main prophet in the day of Ezra, and Zechariah was the prophet in the day of Nehemiah. Ezra was a priest, the great grandson of the priest who found the lost scrolls in the deserted temple who brought them to King Josiah who began a revival (Jeremiah’s dad)!  Like….WOW!!!

We will see extensive genealogical records (oh boy… I know lots of names…..).  So why does God feel it important to include such extensive genealogies?  The ones in the book of Ezra establish the claims to the priesthood on the part of the descendants of Aaron.  Remember….most of God’s chosen people have been in captivity and in exile for at least 70 years.  They lived in a different culture with different gods…different rules…and probably didn’t think a lot about genealogies or even the law of God.  So God wanted to be sure they KNEW.

I found Ezra 3:11 to be so appropriate for THANKSGIVING!!! “With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: ‘He is good; his love to Israel endures forever.’ And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.”  Don’t you just LOVE God’s timing!!!!!

Look at this Scripture — Ezra 7:6, “…this Ezra came up from Babylon. 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.”

The book can easily be divided into two basic sections:

  1. Chapters 1-6—The First Return under Zerubbabel, and the Building of the Second Temple.
  2. Chapters 7-10—The Ministry of Ezra. Time flies in many of these Books and Ezra is no different.  Well over a half a century passed between chapters 6 and 7. Many of the characters of the first part of the book had died by the time Ezra began his ministry in Jerusalem. We will read a prayer of confession of sin as well as subsequent separation of the people from the sinful practices into which they had fallen in Babylon but also while they were in Jerusalem…..remember that is why God was so upset with HIS people….because they REFUSED to TURN BACK to HIM!!!

The Book of Ezra a continuation of the biblical theme of the REMNANT. Think about that for just a moment.  The theme of the REMNANT is prevalent throughout the Bible.

  1. Noah and his family were saved from the destruction of the flood as a REMNANT.
  2. Lot’s family was saved from Sodom and Gomorrah because they were part of the REMNANT.
  3. 7000 prophets reserved in Israel despite the persecution of Ahab and Jezebel….. reserved as the REMNANT.
  4. When the Israelites were taken into captivity in Egypt, God delivered His REMNANT  and took them to the Promised Land.
  5. Some fifty thousand people return to the land of Judea in Ezra 2:64-67, and yet, as they compare themselves with the numbers in Israel during its prosperous days under King David, their comment is, “We are left this day as a remnant.”
  6. The remnant theme is carried into the New Testament where Paul tells us that “at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace” (Romans 11:5).
  7. Although most people of Jesus’ day rejected Him, there remained a set of people whom God had reserved and preserved in his Son, and in the covenant of His grace.
  8. Throughout all generations since Christ, there is the REMNANT of the faithful whose feet are on the narrow road that leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14). This REMNANT will be preserved through the power of the Holy Spirit who has sealed them and who will deliver them safely at the last day (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 4:30).

The Book of Ezra is an AWESOME reminder of the HOPE and RESTORATION that our precious Lord and Savior is and has for each of us if we believe in HIM!!  NONE of us is without sin.  We live in a world of hurting people who try to live their lives with their own reasoning, feelings, emotions, thoughts, and teachings and if these things are not based on the MOST HIGH GOD and HIS LIVING WORD then we can live a life wandering through the wilderness without thoughts of hope or restoration.  BUT….JESUS changed ALL that for each of us.  There is great hope that ours is a God of forgiveness, a God who will not turn His back on us when we seek Him in repentance and brokenness (1 John 1:9).

And remember in Daniel when Gabriel came to tell him about the spiritual battle that was happening?  Remember the Scriptures from the New Testament which points us in the knowledge that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling own of strongholds?  Well…..we will see the opposition of the adversaries of God concerning the rebuilding of the temple  in Ezra.  We will witness a very typical pattern of the enemy who wants to “kill, steal, and destroy” our very souls for all eternity!!  Our enemy will use anything and anyone to deceive us.  The enemy will even use those who would appear to be in sync with God’s purposes to deceive us and attempt to thwart God’s plans. Ezra 4:2 describes the deceptive speech of those who claim to worship Christ but whose real intent is to tear down, not to build up. We are to be on guard against such deceivers.  God warns us to not follow false prophets.

KNOW what the LORD says —– This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.  I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:10-14 NIV.

We all read Exodus when Moses led God’s Chosen People out of Egypt.  NOW, we will read about a second Exodus.  In this second Exodus, Ezra will be God’s instrument to lead God’s Chosen People out of Babylon.  We will witness exactly how God will use this man for HIS purpose!!

Sharing HIS love,

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