Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Evening Sermon Notes -

Ezra: Following God For Reconstruction After Group Defeat
Part X: Being Used Of God For Making Ourselves Useful To Him
(Ezra 7:1-10)
  1. Introduction
    1. A Christian song titled, "To Be Used Of God" upholds the great privilege the believer has to be used of the Lord in His service, and it offers great hope that God might use the believer in effective service.
    2. However, to be used effectively by the Lord results in part from one's making himself useful to God, a lesson illustrated in Ezra 7:1-10 for our insight, instruction and blessing (as follows):
  2. Being Used Of God For Making Ourselves Useful To Him, Ezra 7:1-10.
    1. Ezra 7:1-7 reveals how a second wave of Hebrew exiles in Persia returned to Jerusalem under a scribe named Ezra, a descendant of Aaron, Moses' brother and Israel's first high priest.
    2. This man Ezra was significantly used of God in helping to establish a spiritually renewed nation with the returning exiles, Ezra 7:6-9:
      1. First, Ezra 7:6b explains that the Persian emperor, king Artaxerxes, granted Ezra all that he requested for his wave of Hebrew exiles to return to Israel because the hand of the Lord his God, was upon him.
      2. Second, these provisions from Artaxerxes doubtless encouraged those of the priests, Levites, temple worship singers, gatekeepers and temple servants to return with him as Ezra 7:7 reports occurred.
      3. Third, because God's hand of safety was upon the group, they made the trip from Babylon to Jerusalem in four months safely regardless of their lack of an accompanying protective guard of troops as follows:
        1. Ezra 7:8-9 notes the journey from Babylon to Jerusalem lasted from March 27 to July 24, 457 (Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, 1978, ftn. to Ezra 7:8-9), four months of travel time.
        2. Since the trip would have been about 900 miles long, Ezra's group covered around 7 miles a day across territory where they were largely susceptible to attack by marauding bands because they were not sufficiently armed even to protect their goods and families, cf. Ezra 8:21-23.
        3. Nevertheless, God's protection went with Ezra so his party could make the trip in safety, Ezra 7:8-9.
    3. To understand why God would so bless Ezra and make him an effective leader with the returning Hebrew exiles, we note that Ezra had made himself useful to the Lord as follows, Ezra 7:1-6, 10:
      1. Ezra had accepted his calling and developed his skills to perform God's calling for him, Ezra 7:1-6:
        1. Ezra had been born into the Aaronic line, assigned thus of God by way of his birth the calling of being a priest who was to handle and teach God's Word to Israel's people, Ezra 7:1-6a; Malachi 2:7.
        2. Ezra had accepted this personal assignment, submitting to being educated as a priest, Ezra 7:6a.
        3. Ezra further excelled in his calling as "a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses," Ezra 7:6b NIV: (1) the word "teacher" from soper "referred to a learned man who could read and write" and "teach what he read," Bible Know. Com., O. T., p. 666. (2) The expression "well versed" comes from the word mahir and is "rendered skillful' in Psalm 45:1" (Ibid.), so beyond being educated in the Law so he could teach it to others, Ezra had exercised himself to be highly skilled in handling the Law!
      2. Further, Ezra had "devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord" (Ezra 7:10a NIV), with the expression "devoted himself" being literally translated as "set his heart firmly (cf. 2 Chron. 19:3; 30:19), which gives the idea that Ezra was inwardly determined." (Ibid., B. K. C., O. T.)
      3. Such characteristics are to be present in the Bible teachers and pastors in today's Church:
        1. Paul told Timothy to "fan into flame" his gift from God, to use it to the full in service, 2 Tim. 1:6-7.
        2. Timothy was then to give himself fully to godly living and the ministry of Scripture, 1 Tim. 4:12-16.
Lesson: As Ezra (1) accepted God's call that he be a priest, (2) as he yielded to be trained in knowing and teaching Scripture (3) to the point of becoming skilled at it, and (4) as he was further fully devoted to that call, God used and blessed him as His effective servant in developing a redeveloping Israel.

Application: (1) May we make ourselves spiritually useful to God (a) by accepting His gifting and His and assignment for us, (b) by developing that gift (c) to the point of becoming skilled at it and (d) by being deeply devoted to that calling. (2) The Lord then can and WILL use us effectively for His glory!