Ezra was a Hebrew priest and a scribe during the era of the Persian empire. He also served in the Persian government. In contemporary language, one historian states Ezra’s title as Secretary of State for Jewish Affairs.
Approximately 458 BC Ezra visited Jerusalem and upon his return reported the condition of the city. It was not a positive report, but apparently little was done to rectify matters until Nehemiah went to Jerusalem in 445 and rebuilt the city walls. Then Ezra returned and initiated a religious reformation which focused upon educating all the people in the Law of God.
This ongoing educational process has to be the most significant spiritual contribution of Ezra. Ezra, chapter seven, states that “Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach the statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Were it not for his intent purpose and sincere commitment, it is doubtful that the scribe would have been so effective in reforming the people.
One morning Ezra and his fellow priests gathered all the people in the city square, and Ezra read the Law of Moses to them. As he read, explanation was given so the people could understand each instruction implicitly. The Law was read with such power and simplicity that the people began to weep. Like the dawning sun, the realization broke upon them of the importance of God’s Word, and they saw how far into the shadows of spiritual ignorance they had drifted.
While other priests and Levites were aimlessly leaving the poorly financed Temple duties and returning to their fields, Whyte writes that Ezra was originating a new sort of priesthood and ministry in Israel which would last for centuries. His goal to teach the people consistently in the Word of God is said to have spawned the great synagogue movement which still continues to our day. Ezra, the scribe, did not only reform the Jewish remnant of his day but he left a legacy that did not die.
What can we learn from Ezra?
Certainly Ezra could identify enthusiastically with the author of Scriptures such as Psalm 119, where obedience to God’s Law and encouragement to others to do the same is the prime focus. We should also nurture the desire within ourselves for obeying God and demonstrating that example to those around us.
Bible Verses about Ezra
Ezra chaps. 1-10; Nehemiah 8
What questions does this help to answer?
- Who was Ezra in the Bible?
- What was the relationship between Ezra and Hezekiah?
Steve Fortosis served for six years as youth minister in several parishes. Meanwhile he was also working toward his masters, then his doctorate in religious education. Through the years he has enjoyed teaching on the college and seminary levels and writing professionally. He has published a number of books including story and prayer compilations, missionary biography, Biblical character biography, devotional lit, children’s lit, and even stories of Bible translation. Presently he resides in Florida with his wife, Debra, where he teaches part-time and writes on a free-lance basis.Steve Fortosis