Saturday, January 21, 2017

January 21 - Ezra 7

Today's reading in our daily plan is Ezra 7. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • About 60 years go by between chapter 6 and 7. (The story in the Bible book of Esther takes place during those 60 years.) One wave of Israelites (Jews) had returned from their captivity in Babylon to their home land, and now a second wave is returning home.
  • Ezra is the author here, but refers to himself as Ezra, since he is recording history, not writing a personal letter...
  • Ezra wanted to lead all the remaining Jews who wanted to return to their home land but had to get permission from the king to do so. The fact that Ezra had access to the king shows that his position as a scribe was a prominent one. So, in going back to Jerusalem, Ezra was giving up an important position so he could return to his home land and teach the Jews there about God.
  • The king gives Ezra the permission he needed to lead Jews out of Babylon.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Ezra was willing to give up a prominent (and probably profitable) position because he put God and other people above himself. Followers of Jesus are called to do the same. When we sign up to follow Him, we are choosing to put God and others above ourselves.
  • Ezra could have assumed his own relational skill and personal charisma led to his accomplishments, but he didn't. He gave all the credit to God (verses 9, 27-28).
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Is your priority your own prominence, finances, popularity, happiness? Or do you put God and others before your own well-being? How can you grow your connection with God so you can move towards truly living the life He has for you to live?
  • When things go well for you, when you accomplish something, do you assume it's because of your abilities and intelligence, or are you grateful that God has blessed you (including with your abilities and intelligence)? We need to live humble lives in which we gratefully recognize God as the source of all the good things in our lives and praise Him for His goodness and His activity in our lives.