In Ezra 7, we meet Ezra. The first six chapters of the book bearing his name have told the story of the returned-from-exile Israelites’ efforts to rebuild the Temple under the leadership of Zerubbabel and the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. Now we finally meet Ezra himself, who will be the great leader who summons the people back to obedience to the Torah (Law, but more than just laws) of God.
As Derek Kidner points out in his commentary on the book, “[Ezra’s] name stands very high in Jewish tradition, where he came to be regarded as a second Moses; and it was he, more than any other man, who stamped Israel with its lasting character as the people of a book” (Ezra & Nehemiah, 62). Ezra is the Old Testament model of one who both lives by the Word of God, and teaches others to do the same.
In Ezra 7:10 Ezra’s pattern is summarized: “Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach the statutes and ordinances in Israel” (NRSV).
Study. Do. Teach.
This is the pattern that ought to characterize all of our lives. Even the teaching part? Yes, because whether we teach a congregation, a Sunday School class, a Bible Study group, our own children, or the friend at church or work who is asking questions, we all have people in our sphere of influence.
Study. Do. Teach.
Study: We need to devote ourselves to listening to God’s voice through Scripture. God has not been silent. He has spoken to us in His Word. He still speaks to us today when we prayerfully and consistently read and study it.
Do: Scripture is not given to us simply to fill our heads with facts. As many others have observed, God’s revelation is intended for transformation. If we hear from the living God, and are open to being transformed, we will find that is exactly what happens. God intends to lead us closer to Him and to transform us into the image of His Son. What a gift.
Teach: We don’t just read/study and then teach. The previous step is important: we must allow God to transform us through His Word first. But this is not given to us merely to hoard. We have received God’s Word in our hearts. Now we are called to pass it along to those in our lives.
“Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach his statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Have we set our hearts to do the same where we live?