About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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ch. 7:1-10   ch. 7:11-28

Ezra Comes To Jerusalem (ch. 7:1 - 10)


We see King Anaxerses.  He was king of Persia from 404 to 358 B. C..  So we have a bit of a time frame here. Between Ezra chapter 6 and 7 there is roughly a 58 year period of time.


Ezra gives us his genealogy  that shows us that his lineage was from Aaron.  This would make him a Levite and that would make him a priest.


In verse 6 we see that Ezra was a teacher of the Law of Moses.  He was clearly well versed in the Law of God and therefore would be an important man in Jerusalem .  We learn here that Ezra, for some reason, did not go to Jerusalem with the first wave of exiles, but he did come with this second wave. 


Concerning this second group of exiles that went to Jerusalem there were 1,514 men.  The first group that left Babylon numbered about 50,000 men.


Also in verse 6 we learn “that the hand of the Lord was on Ezra”.  Ezra was called by God to perform a certain task.  This is important for anything we do as a person of the Lord.  Our Lord’s hand must be on us as we go about His work.  He calls us to individual and collective tasks.  The problem is that we often neglect His calling and do what we feel is best, or worse, just wander away from God as Israel did.


The king gave Ezra all he needed for the trip to Jerusalem and all he needed for the temple to be maintained and run as it should be.


In verse 1 we see King Anaxerxes. In verse 7 we see king Artaxerxes, who reigned from 358 to 338 B. C..     

Verse 8 tells us that Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the seventh year of king Artaxerxes rule.    


Verse 9 tells us that the trip for Ezra took four months because the hand of the Lord was on them.  This suggests that the trip could have easily taken longer, but it would appear that God made it easy on them so they arrived in good time.  Sometimes God makes things easy for us and sometimes He doesn’t.  One can’t really gage the Lord being with a person by observing how things are going.  Just because things are going bad doesn’t mean the Lord is not with that person.  The same works in reverse.


Verse 10 begins with the word “for”.  The reason why God was with Ezra was because of three things.  He had devoted himself to study the Law of God, he obeyed it, and he taught the Law of God to others.  This is what needs to be done if you want God to be with you. 


King Artaxerxes Letter to Ezra (ch. 7:11 - 28)


Verses 11 and 12 introduces the letter that King Artaxerxes gave Ezra “the priest and teacher”.   We see here, as we saw in the last chapter, that Ezra was a teacher, a man who understood the Law of God and was able to teach it to others.


It’s interesting to note that we’ve seen two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah in the last couple of chapters.  Here we see Ezra the teacher.  It appears that Israel needed the prophets to speak God’s word to Israel to encourage them to start building the temple again.  But once the work was underway, once the will of God was being done, a teacher had to come in and teach them the proper ways of God, how to build and how to live. This is often the case in New Testament times.  First comes the prophet who speaks God’s word of direction, then comes the teacher to lead God’s people into proper understanding.


Verse 13 tells us that this is more than a letter from the king to Ezra.  It’s a decree of the king.  It states that any Jew who wanted to return to Jerusalem with Ezra could legally return.  They were free to leave Babylon. 


Verse 14 says that the king is actually decreeing the Ezra leave for Jerusalem to enquire about the temple and see how things are going.  Clearly, it was in Ezra’s heart to go, but as in the case with Cyrus, God moved on king Artaxerxes that Ezra must go to Jerusalem. 


The specific thing that Ezra was to see when arriving in Jerusalem was to see the progress of the temple n relation to how the Word of God says it should be built.  And this word, “was in Ezra’s hand”, as the letter states  Ezra truly was a man of the Word of God and even a Gentile king understood its importance in relation to the building of the temple.  The same is true today concerning the church.  We pattern the church after the Word of God, just as the Jews patterned the temple after the Word of God, but that is not always the case in today’s world.


In verse 15 the king decrees that Ezra takes the silver and gold the he gives him for his trip and for the temple.  The rebuilding of this temple was truly God’s will.  For Cyrus, and now for Artaxerxes to help the Jews in such a way is miraculous.


The king recognizes that he is not simply giving the money to Ezra, but to the God of Israel, as he puts it, who lives in Jerusalem.  Now this is something.  A Gentile king coming up with such words.


Verse 16 seems to suggest that others would contribute in giving as well.  The free will offering spoken of here, and those in Babylon spoken of here might well be in connection with the Jews who remain in Babylon.  As in the days of Cyrus.  Cyrus told the Jews who did not make the trip to Jerusalem that they needed to helped financially.  This might well be the case here.  Artaxerxes would have read Cyrus’ decree, and it seems to me that he might well have been influenced by it. 


Verse 17 is a bit funny to me.  Artaxerxes sounds a bit like a father speaking to his son when he says, “don’t forget…”.  He’s reminding Ezra not to forget to buy the animals, grain and drink for all the offerings the Jews will need at the temple. I’m not sure that Ezra would forget such a thing, but the king was committed to the Jews, and he wanted Ezra to know this for sure.  Ezra needed to know this for sure because many people in the land around Jerusalem did not want to see the Jews succeed in rebuilding their temple.


Verse 18 seems to suggest that all the money that was given to Ezra was way more than enough to buy the needed things for their sacrifices.  Whatever money was left over, the king told Ezra to spend as God would suggest.  Ezra was given freedom concerning all this money, and the freedom was based on the fact that the king knew that Ezra was a man of the Word of God and would spend the money properly. 


The king in verse 19 tells Ezra to deliver all that he has received “to the God of Jerusalem”.  The king knew something that many people don’t know, not even today, and that is, “God is the God of Jerusalem”.  Jerusalem is God’s holy city.  It was in the beginning and it will be at the end when we see that New Jerusalem come down from heaven.


Verse 20 goes one step further.  Basically the king says that if you need more money, more of anything, you can have it from the royal treasury.  That is really something.  This is a divine miracle.


In verses 21 to 23 the kings gives a decree directly written to the governor of Trans-Euphrates. The decree states that the province must give Ezra all that He needs for the practice of the Jews in worship at their temple.  The king actually acknowledges the fact that the God that the Jews serve is the God of heaven, meaning the supreme God of all god’s, or better stated in Christian terms, the only God of which there are no other gods. 


The last phrase in verse 23 shows that the king has some fear of the God of the Jews.  The king says, “why should there be wrath against the realm of the king…”  Clearly, the king is decreeing these things because he is afraid that if he doesn’t God will be angry at him and his kingdom. 


The king does put some limits on what his state will give, but these limits are very high.  For example, the state would give Ezra “up to a hundred talents of silver”.  That’s about three and three quarter tons of silver.  That’s a lot of silver.


Verse 24 gets worse for the governor of Trans-Euphrates.  The king decrees that he must not tax or receive any kind of financial remuneration from the priests, or anyone else who works at the temple.  Besides giving money to the Jews, the state can’t collect any money from them.      


In verses 25 and 26 we note that the king gave great authority to Ezra. He put him in charge of all the people in Trans-Euphrates.  I’m not sure that means, all the Jews, or all the people. The king put great confidence in Ezra.  He said he had the wisdom of God.  O that people would see the wisdom of God in His people today.  The king also gave Ezra the authority to punish any one who did not obey the law of God.


Once again we see the civil and religious community working in tandem. Over the centuries men have tried to unite the civil and the religious.  But this is only something that God can do.  Man cannot do such a thing.  We’ve tried with drastic results.  God Himself will unite the civil and religious when Jesus comes to earth. 


Ezra, in verse 27 gives praise to God for putting in the king’s heart this graciousness towards the Jews and their temple.  It is clear that God was behind the graciousness of the king. 


The chapter ends with verse 28 where Ezra acknowledges that the “hand of God was upon him”, and for this reason he was bold to choose the best men of Israel to go with him to Jerusalem.  The task would be hard.  Ezra’s job was to teach the Jews to live in accordance with the Word of God, something he would soon find out they were not doing. 

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