Day 202 – Thru the Bible
Today we complete Ezra. Great job!
Ezra 8 – In these journey details, Ezra’s wise decisions are consistently linked to and dependent on God’s gracious care. First, Ezra deals with a lack of leaders, specifically leaders for temple worship: his well-placed request for help brings a whole group of priests and Levites—“by the good hand of our God on us.” Next Ezra addresses the safety of his people and the treasure they transport, deciding not to ask for the king’s help but to trust the words of witness he had given the king concerning God’s good hand and God’s wrath.
Ezra is clearly unafraid to bear bold witness to the whole truth about God—to approach the God whom he believes is for him, and to appeal to God as One who listens to Ezra’s prayer for safety. Ezra’s smart decision to apportion the treasures among the leading priests is rewarded by God’s hand, delivering them from enemies along the way and bringing them safely to Jerusalem. By the chapter’s close, we see the final celebration of burnt offerings and sin offerings not just as an obedient response to God but as God’s great provision for the people over whom He watches so faithfully for His redemptive purposes, purposes ultimately fulfilled in Jesus.
While we know God does not always act the way we want Him to, how does this truth that God is watching over us and is faithful to His redemptive purposes bring you comfort?
Ezra 9 – Ezra’s reaction and prayer of confession expose the seriousness of the people’s “faithlessness” in disobeying God’s command not to intermarry with the people of the surrounding nations. (See Deut. 7:1–5 for God’s law against marriage with foreigners; see Ezra 6:21 to clarify God’s welcome to any foreign convert, like Rahab or Ruth, who believed and worshiped the Lord God.) The term “holy race” (Ezra 9:2) is more literally translated “holy seed” or “holy offspring”—a clear echo of God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12 and 15, where blessing and land are promised to and through his offspring, and where most of the nations of Ezra 9:1 are even named (Genesis 15:18–21).
Ezra approaches God on the basis of a whole history of God’s covenant promises, but also as one who trembles at God’s words (Ezra 9:3; 10:3; see also Isaiah 66:2, 5). He shows the need for an intercessor on behalf of a sinful people. Ezra himself only foreshadows that role, trusting in God’s “favor,” or “grace”, which brightens the very heart of this prayer just as it brightened the eyes of these slaves allowed by God to return home.
The repetition of “remnant” throughout this chapter (see Isaiah 10:20–22), and the reaffirmation of God’s “steadfast love” to His people show Ezra’s unshakeable trust in God’s great purpose of blessing through the offspring of this remnant people. In effect, Ezra was putting his faith in God’s provision being maintained through the remnant that would ultimately produce the Seed of promise, who would come and make His people holy despite their sin (1 Peter 2:9).
We believers are often more like the people of God in Ezra’s day than we care to acknowledge. Yet our faithlessness, like theirs, need not be the last word. For God sent His own Son to live the one truly faithful life, so that faltering sinners who nevertheless put their trust in the Lord can be restored to God and joy.
How to you show your thankfulness for Jesus’ faithfulness on our behalf?
Ezra 10 – The unsatisfying way in which the book of Ezra ends is significant. The beauty of the resolution in this moment of Israelite history is marred by the depth of the people’s continued sin, sin not against ethnic purity but against God’s covenant commands for separation from pagan influences.
In all this, Ezra tells the true story of all people—for, indeed, our guilt keeps increasing, and our sin deserves the “fierce wrath” of a holy God (Romans 1:18; 3:23). The chapter ends with a sad rehearsal of the offenders and an organized but not happy (or even fully explained) separation from the foreign women who did not worship their God. Even the repentant obedience shown by the people seems inadequate; their covenant with a holy God at this point has a shallow ring, in contrast to God’s unfailing covenant with such a sinful people.
But hope is not fully extinguished. For the welfare of the people lies not ultimately in them but in their God. Ezra 10:2 rings out deeply with the words, “even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this.” Believers of all times can hold this hope, “even now,” even when we continually fail, for God’s promises will not fail. Abraham’s seed of blessing for the world has appeared in Jesus. Unlike the ill-advised intermarriage of Ezra 10, the perfect marriage will come finally, eternally, in Jesus and His bride the church, cleansed by Him and presented “to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing . . . holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26–27).
How does this truth that God’s promises will never fail encourage you today?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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