EZRA: A MAN WITH A GODWARD HEART
"For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel" ~Ezra 7:10
The writer of Hebrews encouraged the faith of the early Christians by reminding them of the "great cloud of witnesses" that had gone before them (Hebrews 11, 12:1). By remembering these witnesses, believers would be motivated to "lay asided every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles" and "run the race" with their "eyes fixed on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:1-2). As Believers, we do well to get to know the saints who have gone before us. This blog is devoted to one Old Testament saint in particular, Ezra.
Ezra was used by God to lead the second group of Israelites out of Babylon back to Jerusalem. His personal credentials earned him credibility with the people and his commission from the king established his administrative authority, but it was the condition of his heart that truly set him apart. Ezra was a man with a Godward heart and there are six characteristics that should encourage us to turn our hearts toward God.
HIS HEART WAS SET ON KNOWING GOD'S WORD
"For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD" (Ezra 7:10a). He delighted in God's Word and committed his time and energy to studying it. It has been said that he memorized the entire law and could write it from recall. We should learn from Ezra and devote our time and energy to knowing God's Word.
HIS HEART WAS SET ON DOING GOD'S WORD
"For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it" (Ezra 7:10b). First he studied then he obeyed. For Ezra, obedience to God's commands was not optional. Is obedience to God's commands optional in your life? If you are a Believer, odedience is an expectation not an exception.
HIS HEART WAS SET ON TEACHING GOD'S WORD
"For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel" (Ezra 7:10c). First he studied, then he obeyed, and finally he taught. Here is the pattern for every Believer-study, obey, teach.
HIS HEART WAS SET ON TRUSTING GOD'S HAND
Ezra could have requested a military escort from the king, but he was unwilling to send mixed messages about his trust in God. He was convinced that God's hand alone would protect them as they journeyed back to Jerusalem, so he lead the people to seek God's protection through prayer and fasting, and God responded favorably (Ezra 8:21-23). As Believers, we should trust the hand of God more than we trust the hands of men.
HIS HEART WAS SET ON CONFESSING AND FORSAKING SIN
A situation of serious sin had developed among the people. The Israelites had not separated themselves from the peoples of the land and even married some of the non-Israelite women, a practice that God had forbidden (Ezra 9:1-2, cf. Ex. 34, Deut. 12:30-31). When Ezra learned of this sin he was deeply grieved and confessed to God how the sin had contaminated the people (Ezra 9:1-12). He also led the people to confess and forsake their sins (Ezra 10:1-7). We can learn from Ezra's confession how to respond to our own sin. When you sin, do you confess it and commit to forsaking it?
HIS HEART WAS SET ON THE MERCY OF GOD
When Ezra confessed the sins of his people, he agreed that God was just in punishing them for their sins (Ezra 9:15), but he was also keenly aware of God's mercy (Ezra 9:8-9, 13). Like the Israelites, we are all guilty of violating God's law, but God is a "God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, abounding in lovingkindness" (Nehemiah 9:17). When we confess our sins we should throw ourselves upon the mercy of God.
Do you have a Godward heart? Take some time to evaluate the condition of your heart. Confess any areas that are weak and by God's grace turn your heart afresh toward God.
HOW TO USE THIS SERMON REVIEW?
1. Study Ezra's life by reading Ezra 7-10.
2. Use this profile of Ezra's heart to evaluate the condition of your own heart.
3. Parents, teach your children the importance of having a Godward heart.