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Ezra – Consecrated to God

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OTI-15

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While Gautama Buddha was living and teaching in India [c. 560-480 BC], Confucis in China [551-479 BC] and Socrates in Greece [470-399 BC] the One True and Living God sent His servant Ezra. As the Lord’s chosen messenger  he was to stir up the Remnant to return to their God. From 457 BC [the dates of the events in Ezra 7-10] and 444 BC when Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem this book was written by Ezra. Tradition ascribes two of the great spiritual events of the past to Ezra. He is credited with the collection of all the Old Testament into one unit and with the founding of the first synagogue. Other traditions credit him with leading the gathering that defended the spurious writings from being put into the Scriptures. All told he was a great servant of the Lord! A brief sketch of history can help us fit many biblical events into a proper sequence. 

538-515 BC 483-473 BC 457 BC 444-c. 425 BC
Zerubbabel Esther Ezra Nehemiah
Ezra 1-6 Esther Ezra 7-10 Nehemiah
1st return 2nd Return 3rd Return

The secular backdrop would be the Kings of Persia: 

Cyrus 559-530 BC
Cambyses 530-522 BC
Smerdis 522 BC
Darius I 521-486 BC
Ahasuerus 486-464 BC
Artaxerxes I 464-423 BC
Darius II 423-404 BC

We can outline this book into two clear sections: 

I.                     The Return under Cyrus by Zerubbabel 1:1-6:22 and the Rebuilding of the Temple

II.                   The return under Artaxerxes by Ezra 7:1-10:44 and the Rebuilding of the People. 

God had told the Jews they would return in the writings of Jeremiah 70 years before it happened. Isaiah had also written 170 years before, that the one who would accomplish the bidding of God was not even a believer. He would be a pagan king named Cyrus! God names him before he even was born . . . 

The two themes that run throughout this book are: Consecration and Separation.

I.                     Consecration is seen in the desire the people and their leaders had to restore the true worship of the Lord. The people of God faced great opposition, their adversaries were half breeds from the time of II Kings 17. Pagans imported by the Assyrians to hold the land for the kingdom of Assyria. These semi-heathen Samaritans were the chief of problems in 4:1, 9, 10. They were taught to fear God and serve idols, and that they did.  They are Consecrated at the Altar = Cross of Christ   Ezra 3:2 Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as [it is] written in the law of Moses the man of God. (KJV)

A.                 CRUCIFIED Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the [life] which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (NKJV) Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (NKJV)

B.                 CONSECRATED Romans 12:1-2     I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, [which is] your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what [is] that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (NKJV)

II.                   Separation = no intermarriage  Ezra 9:1     When these things were done, the leaders came to me, saying, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. (NKJV). Separation is seen in the work of Ezra. He was earnest in his desire to purify the people of God and never turned back. He found 112 cases of intermarriage in direct disobedience to Mosaic law and dealt with  every one of them.

A.                 WORLDLINESS 1 John 2:15-17     Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that [is] in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (NKJV) James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (NKJV)

B.                 PILGRIM HOOD Hebrews 11:13     These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced [them] and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (NKJV)

C.                ONE MASTER Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (NKJV) 

The book of Ezra teaches us many precious truths about God, Worship and Sin.

I.                     The Lord of Heaven and Earth can be KNOWN.  Ezra 1:2 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which

[is]

in Judah. (NKJV. Our God is:

A.                 TRUE   Ezra 1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also [put it] in writing, saying, (NKJV)

B.                 SOVEREIGN   Ezra 1:5  Then the heads of the fathers’ [houses] of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the house of the LORD which [is] in Jerusalem. (NKJV)

C.                GOOD    Ezra 3:11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD: “For [He is] good, For His mercy [endures] forever toward Israel.” Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. (NKJV)

D.                HOLY    Ezra 4:3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the fathers’ [houses] of Israel said to them, “You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God; but we alone will build to the LORD God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.” (NKJV) Ezra 9:15 “O LORD God of Israel, You [are] righteous, for we are left as a remnant, as [it is] this day. Here we [are] before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!” (NKJV)

E.                 POWERFUL Ezra 5:3     At the same time Tattenai the governor of [the region] beyond the River and Shethar-Boznai and their companions came to them and spoke thus to them: “Who has commanded you to build this temple and finish this wall?” (NKJV) to 6:12

F.                 PERSONAL    Ezra 7:27-28     Blessed [be] the LORD God of our fathers, who has put [such a thing] as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which [is] in Jerusalem, 28 and has extended mercy to me before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty princes.  So I was encouraged, as the hand of the LORD my God [was] upon me; and I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me. (NKJV)

G.                COMFORTING and PROTECTING    Ezra 8:21-23     Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions. 22 For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God [is] upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath [are] against all those who forsake Him.” 23 So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer. (NKJV) 

H.                 LISTENING    Ezra 8:23 So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer. v. 31     Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth [day] of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. And the hand of our God was upon us, and He delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambush along the road. (NKJV)

II.                   The Lord of Heaven and Earth can be WORSHIPED by:

A.                 SAINTS PROMOTING UNITY    Ezra 3:1 And when the seventh month had come, and the children of Israel [were] in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem. (NKJV)

B.                 SAINTS PRAISING HIS DIVINITY   Ezra 3:11-13 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD: “For [He is] good, For His mercy [endures] forever toward Israel.” Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’

[houses,]

old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard afar off. (NKJV) Ezra 6:16 Then the children of Israel, the priests and the Levites and the rest of the descendants of the captivity, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. (NKJV)

C.                SAINTS PURSUING INTEGRITY   Ezra 4:1-3  Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity were building the temple of the LORD God of Israel, 2 they came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the fathers’ [houses,] and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you [do;] and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.” 3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the fathers’ [houses] of Israel said to them, “You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God; but we alone will build to the LORD God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.” (NKJV) Ezra 6:21 Then the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the LORD God of Israel. (NKJV)

D.                SAINT PURGING THEIR HUMANITY    Ezra 6:17 And they offered sacrifices at the dedication of this house of God, one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. (NKJV)

E.                 SAINTS PRACTICING SCRIPTURAL CONFORMITY   Ezra 3:2 Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brethren, arose and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as [it is] written in the Law of Moses the man of God. (NKJV) Ezra 6:18 They assigned the priests to their divisions and the Levites to their divisions, over the service of God in Jerusalem, as it is written in the Book of Moses. (NKJV)

III.                  The Lord of Heaven and Earth can be SINNED AGAINST so:

A.                 Sin must be DEALT WITH SERIOUSLY   Ezra 9:3-4 So when I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished. 4 Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel assembled to me, because of the transgression of those who had been carried away captive, and I sat astonished until the evening sacrifice. (NKJV) Ezra 10:6 Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib; and [when] he came there, he ate no bread and drank no water, for he mourned because of the guilt of those from the captivity. (NKJV)

B.                 Compromise must be AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS   Ezra 4:1-3     Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity were building the temple of the LORD God of Israel, 2 they came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the fathers’ [houses,] and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you [do;] and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.” 3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the fathers’ [houses] of Israel said to them, “You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God; but we alone will build to the LORD God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.” (NKJV) Ezra 9:1-3     When these things were done, the leaders came to me, saying, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 2 “For they have taken some of their daughters [as wives] for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of

[those]

lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass.” 3 So when I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished. (NKJV)

C.                Sin must be FORSAKEN FULLY   Ezra 9:5-15 At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God. 6 And I said: “O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than [our] heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens. 7 “Since the days of our fathers to this day we [have been] very guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings,

[and]

our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation, as [it is] this day. 8 “And now for a little while grace has been [shown] from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage. 9 “For we [were] slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem. 10 “And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken Your commandments, 11 “which You commanded by Your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land, with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their impurity. 12 ‘Now therefore, do not give your daughters as wives for their sons, nor take their daughters to your sons; and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land, and leave

[it]

as an inheritance to your children forever.’ 13 “And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, since You our God have punished us less than our iniquities [deserve,] and have given us [such] deliverance as this, 14 “should we again break Your commandments, and join in marriage with the people [committing] these abominations? Would You not be angry with us until You had consumed [us,] so that [there would be] no remnant or survivor? 15 “O LORD God of Israel, You [are] righteous, for we are left as a remnant, as [it is] this day. Here we [are] before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!” (NKJV)

D.                God’s Mercy must be SOUGHT IMMEDIATELY  Ezra 9:13 “And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, since You our God have punished us less than our iniquities [deserve,] and have given us [such] deliverance as this, (NKJV)

E.                 Sin must be DESTROYED AT THE SOURCE   Ezra 10:7-17 And they issued a proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the descendants of the captivity, that they must gather at Jerusalem, 8 and that whoever would not come within three days, according to the instructions of the leaders and elders, all his property would be confiscated, and he himself would be separated from the assembly of those from the captivity. 9 So all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered at Jerusalem within three days. It [was] the ninth month, on the twentieth of the month; and all the people sat in the open square of the house of God, trembling because of [this] matter and because of heavy rain. 10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have transgressed and have taken pagan wives, adding to the guilt of Israel. 11 “Now therefore, make confession to the LORD God of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives.” 12 Then all the assembly answered and said with a loud voice, “Yes! As you have said, so we must do. 13 “But [there are] many people; [it is] the season for heavy rain, and we are not able to stand outside. Nor [is this] the work of one or two days, for [there are] many of us who have transgressed in this matter. 14 “Please, let the leaders of our entire assembly stand; and let all those in our cities who have taken pagan wives come at appointed times, together with the elders and judges of their cities, until the fierce wrath of our God is turned away from us in this matter.” 15 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahaziah the son of Tikvah opposed this, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite gave them support.16 Then the descendants of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, [with] certain heads of the fathers’ [households,] were set apart by the fathers’ [households,] each of them by name; and they sat down on the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter. 17 By the first day of the first month they finished

[questioning]

all the men who had taken pagan wives. (NKJV)

Ezra was a special servant of the Lord. This is evident in his life because he was:

I.                     A Skillful Teacher of the Scriptures   Ezra 7:6 this Ezra came up from Babylon; and he

[was]

a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given. The king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him. (NKJV)

II.                   A Godly Man of Character   Ezra 7:10 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. (NKJV)

III.                  A Thankful Servant of the Lord   Ezra 7:27-28     Blessed [be] the LORD God of our fathers, who has put [such a thing] as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which [is] in Jerusalem, 28 and has extended mercy to me before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty princes.  So I was encouraged, as the hand of the LORD my God [was] upon me; and I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me. (NKJV)

IV.               A Dependent Follower of God’s Plan   Ezra 8:21-23     Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions. 22 For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God [is] upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath [are] against all those who forsake Him.” 23 So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer. (NKJV)

V.                 A Saint who Grieved over his Sin  Ezra 9:5-15  At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God. 6 And I said: “O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than [our] heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens. 7 “Since the days of our fathers to this day we [have been] very guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings,

[and]

our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation, as [it is] this day. 8 “And now for a little while grace has been [shown] from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage. 9 “For we [were] slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem. 10 “And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken Your commandments, 11 “which You commanded by Your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land, with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their impurity. 12 ‘Now therefore, do not give your daughters as wives for their sons, nor take their daughters to your sons; and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land, and leave

[it]

as an inheritance to your children forever.’ 13 “And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, since You our God have punished us less than our iniquities [deserve,] and have given us [such] deliverance as this, 14 “should we again break Your commandments, and join in marriage with the people [committing] these abominations? Would You not be angry with us until You had consumed [us,] so that [there would be] no remnant or survivor? 15 “O LORD God of Israel, You [are] righteous, for we are left as a remnant, as [it is] this day. Here we [are] before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!” (NKJV)

VI.               A Man who Stood up against Wrong at any Cost   Ezra 10:3 “Now therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and those who have been born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. (NKJV) 

This book traces the major steps in the victorious Christians life. These are traced through the steps the Remnant of Israel had to take in following God.

I.                     They had to return to the Land [1-2] This is confession and obedience, back to a proper relationship with God. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NKJV)

II.                   They had to rebuild the Altar [3:1-6] This is the renewal of their position as the chosen sons and daughters of God. This speaks of our consecration as we return to the foot of the cross and reaffirm His ownership. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit [who is] in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (NKJV)

III.                  They had to rebuild the Temple [3:8-13] This was their service and witness in action. This speaks of the need we have to a proper role and relationship with worship in their lives. Matthew 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” (NKJV)

IV.               They had to resist and overcome Adversaries [4] This is learning how to deal with TEMPTATION- 2 Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (NKJV), SIN- Romans 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. (NKJV) and SATAN- James 4:7-8     Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [you] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [you] double-minded. (NKJV)

V.                 They had to listen to the Prophets  [5:1-6:14] This has to do with our relationship to the Word and the Spirit Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (NKJV)

VI.               They had to finish the temple [6:15-22] This speaks of the walk of the believer in fullness of the Spirit and in constant worship. Romans 12:1-2     I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, [which is] your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what [is] that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (NKJV). it also portrays the victory that wins. 1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. (NKJV)

 
 
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