Online Bible Commentary
Pray for America
Ezra 7: 6 this Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given. The king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him. 7 Some of the children of Israel, the priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the Nethinim came up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes. 8 And Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. 9 On the first day of the first month he began his journey from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. 10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel. 11 This is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave Ezra the priest, the scribe, expert in the words of the commandments of the Lord, and of His statutes to Israel. (NKJV)
We often overlook the small Old Testament book of Ezra, along with Ezra himself. But Ezra was an important prophet during the era when the Israelites returned from their seventy year exile to Babylon. God engineered Judah’s destruction because of its disobedience. The leaders and the people had turned away from the teachings of Scripture and turned to the idol worship of man made images. Even then, as today, humanism existed in its own way, and became the law of the land.
Ezra was a descendant of Aaron, the first High Priest and the older brother of Moses. He not only wrote the book of Ezra but he also wrote First and Second Chronicles, of which the book of Ezra is a continuation. Ezra was also said to be responsible for the institution of the great synagogue and settling and restoring the Old Testament canon. He was a major spiritual force during the mid 400’s B.C.
The Persian King Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 B.C. and freed the Israelites. When the exiled Jews returned from Babylon they returned in three main groups. The first group returned in 538 B.C. under the leadership of Zerubbabel. The second group returned in 458 B.C. with Ezra, and the third group returned in 445 B.C. with Nehemiah. The book of Ezra tells of the first two returning groups.
Many exiles chose to remain in Babylon. The Babylonian Empire reached its Zenith during the mid 1700’s B. C. During the four and five hundreds B.C., it covered what is now Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, and the southeastern part of Turkey. The city of Babylon rested on the Euphrates River in what is now Iraq. Due to the presence of Jews, Babylon became an important center for Jewish learning until the city’s decline about 400 B.C.
In this passage, we see that Ezra was a well respected teacher of the Law, the first five books of the Old Testament written by Moses. He enjoyed the king’s favor and the hand of the Lord was upon him (vv. 6-10). He was a student of the scriptures. He was obedient to scripture and was devoted to the teaching of Scripture (v.11). In some ways, he was no different than the Bible teachers of today. He taught the people about God’s word. He warned them of God’s judgment.
However, in today’s America, Ezra would not be well respected and would not have the “king’s” favor. Ezra would be considered intolerant and a bigot. He would be chastised for “judging” others, when all he was doing was teaching people how God judges. He would be labeled “homophobic” because he would not support or promote sin of any kind, in obedience to Scripture. He would be marginalized by the people and persecuted by the government.
In many ways, today’s America is more ungodly than were the Israelites when they were conquered, with many killed and the remnant exiled from their homeland. We live in precarious times. God’s judgment upon America could come at any time and its leaders and the majority of its people seem oblivious to it all. As Christians, we must pray constantly for America and its leaders.