The Return Under Ezra

Scripture Passage: 
Ezra 7:1-28; Ezra 8:1-36
Attached audio files: 

Introduction: “Now after these things…” Ezra 7:1 occurred about 59 years after the last verse of Ezra chapter six and about 21 years after Ezra became queen of Persia. The return under Ezra occurred about 457BC. Ezra did not build a physical structure like the other men who led returns, but he reestablished the true worship in obedience to the law of Moses. By the time of Ezra, the only Old Testament prophet who had not yet prophesied was Malachi. Ezra’s return was the second of the three major returns:

  • First return under Zerubbabel built the temple
  • Second return under Ezra established true worship
  • Third return under Nehemiah built the city walls

The major Persia kings during this period of time were as follows:

  • Cyrus (559-530BC)
  • Darius (522-486BC)
  • Ahasuerus (486-465BC)
  • Artaxerxes (465-425BC)
  1. THE PREPARATION OF EZRA (Ezra 7:1-10)
    1. His Genealogy (Ezra 7:1-5)
      1. In the reign of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:1)
      2. As a descendant of Aaron (Ezra 7:1-5, 12; Numbers 25:10-13)
        1. Through Phinehas and Eleazar
        2. Proof that he had the credentials to lead the people spiritually
    2. His Background (Ezra 7:6-10)
      1. A scribe (Ezra 7:6)
        1. Originally, one who wrote the law (Jeremiah 8:8)
        2. Later, one who studied and taught the law (Ezra 7:10; Matthew 13:52)
        3. Often, one who held the position of holiness outwardly but not inwardly (Matthew 23:13-15, 23-25)
      2. A ready scribe (Ezra 7:6; compare Psalm 45:1; 1 Peter 5:2 – “a ready mind”)
        1. In the law of Moses (Leviticus 10:8-11)
        2. Prepared (Ezra 7:7; Proverbs 30:25)
        3. Willing (2 Corinthians 8:3)
        4. Quick to act (2 Corinthians 8:5, 11)
      3. An able leader (Ezra 7:6-9)
        1. Able to approach the king (Ezra 7:6; Proverbs 22:29; Daniel 1:4-5)
        2. Able to organize the people (Ezra 7:7-8, 28)
        3. Able to lead the people (Ezra 7:9; Ezra 8:15-16, 21, 31)
          1. From Babylon to Jerusalem
          2. According “to the good hand of his God upon him” (Nehemiah 2:8, 18)
      4. A prepared leader (Ezra 7:10)
        1. Prepared in the heart (Psalm 25:12, 14)
        2. Prepared by seeking (Proverbs 18:1; 2 Timothy 2:15)
        3. Prepared by obeying (Matthew 5:19; John 13:17)
        4. Prepared to teach (Ezra 7:25; Nehemiah 8:5, 8; 2 Timothy 2:2; contrast Romans 2:17-24; 1 Timothy 1:5-7)
  2. THE LETTER OF ARTAXERXES (Ezra 7:11-28)
    1. Permission to Return to Jerusalem (Ezra 7:11-13)
      1. A copy given unto Ezra (Ezra 7:11); “a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD”
      2. Addressed to Ezra (Ezra 7:12)
        1. A scribe of the law of the God of heaven
        2. A message of perfect peace
      3. A decree giving full permission (Ezra 7:13)
        1. To all the people of Israel in Persia
        2. To give permission to go to Jerusalem
    2. Permission to Control the Money (Ezra 7:14-22)
      1. Sending Ezra to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem (Ezra 7:14)
      2. Carrying the offerings of the Jews of Babylon (Ezra 7:15-16)
      3. Given permission to buy the necessary supplies (Ezra 7:17-18)
      4. Bring vessels for the service of the house of God (Ezra 7:19-20)
      5. Allowing expenses to be paid up to a stated amount (Ezra 7:21-22)
    3. Permission to Establish the Government (Ezra 7:23-26)
      1. Urging Ezra to obey the Lord diligently (Ezra 7:23)
      2. Giving tax exemption to the priest and Levites (Ezra 7:24)
      3. Giving Ezra authority to establish a government (Ezra 7:25)
        1. To set up judges and magistrates
        2. After the wisdom of God
        3. To judge all people beyond the river
          1. To rule those who know the laws of God
          2. To teach those who do not know the laws of God
      4. Giving Ezra authority to enforce the laws of God (Ezra 7:26); giving four major forms of punishment by law
        1. To put to death
        2. To banish
        3. To confiscate goods
        4. To imprison
    4. Thanksgiving for God’s Blessing (Ezra 7:27-28)
      1. Thanks to the Lord (Ezra 7:27-28a)
        1. To put such a thing in the king’s heart (Ezra 7:27)
        2. To beautify the house of the Lord in Jerusalem (Ezra 7:27)
        3. To extend mercy to Ezra before the king (Ezra 7:28)
      2. Strength to go on (Ezra 7:28b)
        1. The hand of the Lord on Ezra
        2. Chief men gathered out of Israel
  3. THE LIST OF RETURNING EXILES (Ezra 8:1-20)
    1. Chief of their Families (Ezra 8:1-14)
    2. Men of Understanding (Ezra 8:15-20)
      1. Gathered by the river of Ahava (Ezra 8:15)
        1. Abode in tents three days
        2. Viewed those gathered
          1. There were the people
          2. There were priests
          3. But there were no Levites
          4. Note: Levites filled the middle position as “ministers for the house of our God” (Ezra 8:17). The work could not be done without them.
      2. Sent back to Babylon for the Levites (Ezra 8:16-17)
      3. Good Levites were brought to them (Ezra 8:18-19)
      4. A good number of Nethinims also came (Ezra 8:20)
        1. These were the hereditary servants of the temple. They did the menial work of the sanctuary for the Levites. Their name means those set apart .
        2. They were probably descendants of the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:27).
  4. THE TRIP TO JERUSALEM (Ezra 8:21-36)
    1. The Proclaiming of a Fast (Ezra 8:21-23)
      1. Asking for protection (Ezra 8:21)
        1. To afflict themselves before the Lord
        2. To seek of Him a right way
      2. Keeping their testimony (Ezra 8:22; Exodus 32:9-14)
        1. Ashamed to seek protection from the king
        2. Had testified of the power of God
          1. Good to them that seek Him
          2. Wrath on those who forsake Him
      3. Receiving an answer (Ezra 8:23; Jeremiah 33:3)
    2. The Keeping of the Money (Ezra 8:24-30)
      1. Entrusted the money to 22 chosen men (Ezra 8:24-27)
      2. Charged the men to fulfill their duty (Ezra 8:28-30)
        1. A holy business (Ezra 8:28)
        2. A watchful business (Ezra 8:29)
        3. A weighty business (Ezra 8:30)
    3. The Arrival in Jerusalem (Ezra 8:31-36)
      1. In safety (Ezra 8:31-32)
        1. Departed from the river of Ahava (Ezra 8:31)
        2. Delivered from the hand of the enemy (Ezra 8:31)
        3. Arrived safely in Jerusalem (Ezra 8:32)
      2. With the money (Ezra 8:33-34)
      3. Giving their offerings (Ezra 8:35)
      4. Delivering their commissions (Ezra 8:36)
        1. They furthered the people
        2. They furthered the house of God

Conclusion:  On one hand, we see the order and organization established by Ezra. But on the other hand, we see the power of God in this return because of their trust in Him and prayer to Him. We could learn much about doing the work of the Lord in this lesson. Find the will of the Lord. Make yourself right with Him. Prepare for the work. Then, do it with faith and determination.

MEMORY VERSES:

Ezra 7:10 – For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
Proverbs 30:25 – The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer
2 Corinthians 8:5 – And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
David Reagan

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 21:2

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.