Tuesday 20th February 2018 - Daily Reading:
Ezra 7 - More Return by Karen Cowling

Here we are firstly given almost a résumé of Ezra, in how he is one of the very few teachers of the Word still around due to the exile. He can trace his lineage back to Aaron. We also see that this is some time after the temple has been rebuilt and with the first mention of Ezra himself there is also no more spoken of Haggai and Zechariah. We can only assume that these men of God had finished their testimony.

Ezra was exactly what the Israelites needed to get them fully on track. They had the temple and the alter, now they needed the wisdom and the teaching. Ezra was a man who knew the scriptures, he knew the full details of the law that Moses had written for them. Even among Jews today, Ezra is highly regarded as a huge blessing from God and blessed of God. It is believed that it was Ezra who compiled most of what we now know as the Old Testament. He was a man who had ‘prepared his heart to seek the Lord’ so he wanted the best for Israel.

King Artaxerxes of Persia sends a letter to Ezra, along with money, outlining how Ezra should return to Jerusalem and teach the people there. Ezra is to offer sacrifices and to take more Israelites with him. He not only allows him to go but provides for him. Artaxerxes gives Ezra authority over Judah and Jerusalem, and even tells him how he can have funds from the treasuries of the Trans-Euphrates to ensure that the temple of God is fully stocked with whatever they need, be it articles, or sacrifices and offerings.

Like in so many places in the Old Testament, we can see here in Artaxerxes a Gentile king providing for and ensuring that the God of heaven is praised and worshipped. So, we land with a man of God who is coming again to tell God’s people how to rightly follow him and a Gentile who can see the sovereignty of God. Throughout the Old Testament we can see a foreshadow of what God is going to do through Jesus. Jesus came first to the Jews to teach them again how to follow God rightly, but they did not fully follow, and so Jesus provided a way for the Gentiles to see and know the glory of God.

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