Ezra 7-9-10 Following Godly Spiritual Leaders

FOLLOWING GODLY SPIRITUAL LEADERS
Ezra 7:8-10;9:1-2,4;10:1-5   December 17 2006

There is a gap of fifty-seven years between the
completion of the temple and the arrival of Ezra.
Unfortunately, the people had lapsed in to sin; and it
was Ezra’s task to being them back to the Lord. One
of the emphases in these chapters is HANDS.

1. God’s Hands (Ezra 7:8-10)

Ezra 7:8   Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the
seventh year of the king. 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. 7:10   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.

Ezra was a gifted man (7:10), but he could do nothing
unless God’s hand was upon him and the people traveling
with him. God’s hand is a providing hand (7:6;8:18), a
protecting hand (8:22,31), an encouraging hand (7:28), and
a guiding hand (7:9).
God’s word was in Ezra’s heart as well as his hand (7:10),
and it was the Word that the people needed. There can no
Cleaning or reviving apart from the Word of God.

Ezra began his journey on the first of Nisan (Apr. 8, 458 B.C.) and arrived in Jerusalem on the first of Ab (Aug. 4, 458). The journey took four months, including an 11-day delay. Although the actual distance between Babylon and Jerusalem is about 500 miles, the travelers had to cover a total of about 900 miles, going northwest along the Euphrates River and then south. The relatively slow pace was caused by the presence of the elderly and the children.

2. Astonished (Ezra 9:1-2,4)

Ezra 9:1   After these things had been done, the leaders came
to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests
and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the
neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like
those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites,
Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. 9:2   They have
taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and
their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples
around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in
this unfaithfulness.” 9:3   When I heard this, I tore my tunic
and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down
appalled. 9:4   Then everyone who trembled at the words of the
God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness
of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice.

For at least three reasons, the Jewish remnant should
have obeyed God’s Word about marriage. To begin with, God
had been good to bring them back to the land. He had also
chastened them in Babylon, and they knew from their own
past the consequences of compromise. No wonder Ezra was
astonished.
After These Things Had Been Done. . . Have Not Kept
Thenselves Separate. Ezra had reached Jerusalem in the fifth
month (7:9). The measures dealing with the problem of
intermarriage were announced in the ninth month (10:9), or
four months after his arrival. Those who brought Ezra’s
attention to the problem were probably the ordinary members
of the community rather than the leaders, who were
themselves guilty.

3. Make a Covenant (Ezra 10:1-5)

Ezra 10:1   While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping
and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large
crowd of Israelites —men, women and children —gathered
around him. They too wept bitterly. 10:2   Then Shecaniah
son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra,
“We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign
women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there
is still hope for Israel. 10:3   Now let us make a covenant
before our God to send away all these women and their
children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of
those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done
according to the Law. 10:4   Rise up; this matter is in your
hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.” 10:5
So Ezra rose up and put the leading priests and Levites and
all Israel under oath to do what had been suggested. And they
took the oath.

Ezra, as a wise teacher, waited for his audience to
draw their own conclusions about what should be done.
SHECANIAH. Perhaps his father Jehiel is the Jehiel
mentioned in v. 26 since he was also of the family of
Elam. If so, Shecaniah was doubtless grieved that his
father had married a Non-jewish woman. Six members
of the clan of Elam were involved in intermarriage .
Make A Covenant.  Mothers were given custody of
their children when marriages were dissolved. When
Hagar was dismissed, Ishmael was sent with her
(Ge 21:14). In Babylonia divorced women were granted
their children and had to wait for them to grow up
before remarrying, according to the law code of
Hammurapi . In Greece, however, children from broken
homes remained with their fathers.
OATH. The implied curse attendant upon
nonfulfillment of a Biblical oath is often expressed
in the vague statement, “May God deal with you, be
it ever so severely, if. . . On rare occasions the full
implications of the curse are spelled out
(Nu 5:19-22; Job 31; Ps 7:4-5; 137:5-6).

Summary:

When thing look dark, there is always a ray of hope.
Shechaniah encouraged the people to confess their sins
and obey the word. He may have been thinking of God’s
promises in Exodus 34:6-7, Isaiah 55:6-7, and
Jeremiah 3:11-13. Believer today turn to 1 John 1:9.
According to Ezra 7:10,Ezra studied God’s Word,
obeyed God’s Word, and taught God’s Word. He like the
person Jesus spoke about in Matthew 13:52: a student
(learning) who was a disciple (living) and a householder
(sharing). Having a Balanced life is most important.