Are You Better Than Ezra
Written by Pastor Rob Alfala   

   Peter makes it very clear in 1 Peter 2:4-5 (NASB), that ALL of God’s professed people are called to be a “holy priesthood” for God.  The wonderful thing is that none of us have been given the role of being His High Priest.  That role is reserved solely for Jesus Christ, who by His death, resurrection and ascension, earned that right to represent us as our High Priest before the Father (see Hebrews 3:1; 7:25-28).


   Not only did the sacrificial examples of the Old Testament meet their fulfillment in Jesus, but so did the High Priestly ministry.  And as the High Priest worked with the other priests (called priests of the second order) to fulfill God’s purpose, we too are to work with our High Priest Jesus to fulfill God’s purpose in these last days.


    But what does it mean to be part of God’s holy priesthood?  Peter answers that question in the rest of 1 Peter 2.  But I have decided to use the example of Ezra from the Old Testament.  Ezra was a post-exilic priest whose ministry took place primarily after the Temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt.  And an account of his life as recorded in Ezra 7 can give us some insights as to what it means to be God’s priest.


    Ezra 7:6 describes Ezra as a “scribe skilled in the Law of Moses…” (i.e. God’s word).  It also tells a very intriguing fact about Ezra and his relationship with Artaxerxes the king: “…and the king granted him all he requested…”  How would you like that type of relationship with such a powerful being? 


    Well, the reason Ezra received all that he requested from Artaxerxes wasn’t necessarily because of his relationship with this Earthly monarch.  It was because of his relationship with the King of kings.  The rest of verse 6 states, “…and the king granted him all he requested, because the hand of the Lord his God was upon him.”  So according to this, why did Ezra receive all he requested?  Because God’s hand was upon his priest and when God’s hand is upon His priests, they get what they request—as long as it’s according God’s will, of course (1 John 5:14; Psalm 37:3-5).


    In Ezra 7:9, it goes on to record Ezra’s four month journey from Babylon to Jerusalem and gives the reason for his success as being God’s hand upon Ezra—the same phrase used in connection with the reason for his success in receiving all he requested from Artaxerxes.  You see, when God’s hand is upon you, not only do you get what you request (according to His will), but you also reach your desired destination.  But why was God’s hand upon Ezra?


    “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances…” (Ezra 7:10).  The reason God’s hand was upon Ezra was because he set his heart to study, practice, and teach God’s word to others.  But what does that mean?


    When he “set his heart”, it means that he established or made his heart firm to study God’s word.  The word translated “study” means to seek with care or to seek with application.  So Ezra wasn’t just studying God’s word for information.  He was studying it to apply its principles in his life.  Once he applied those principles, he fulfilled the “practice” portion of this description.  Then he also set his heart to teach it to others, that they may be blessed in their walk with God as he had been.


    Now what does this have to do with us?  Well, we are God’s priesthood today.  And in order for us to have the success God’s wants us to, we need to follow Ezra’s example and set our hearts to study, practice and teach God’s word.  What are you setting your heart towards today?  Is it your job/career, education, finances, relationships and the other things of this world?  God wants us to fulfill our role on this Earth as his priests, regardless of our background.  In order to do that and be the most effective for His cause, we need to set our heart to study, practice and teach God’s word.  Would you like to set your heart to that today?

 

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