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Wisdom of God:Study-Obey-Teach Ezra 7

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Scripture declares that God alone is wise and discerning, and that human wisdom is often unable or unwilling to understand his ways. God’s wisdom is expressed in both creation and redemption.

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Opening Discussion

Question: "How would you describe the Wisdom of God?"

God’s wisdom described

Isaiah 28:29 NASB95
29 This also comes from the Lord of hosts, Who has made His counsel wonderful and His wisdom great.

God’s wisdom is beyond measure

Psalm 147:5 NASB95
5 Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.

God’s wisdom is profound

Isaiah 40:28 NASB95
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.

God’s wisdom is superior to human wisdom

Isaiah 55:9 NASB95
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Turn to

Read

7:1–5  Ezra son of . . . Aaron.
Lengthy genealogies in the Bible were usually attached to important persons, and this is one of the longest genealogies given for an individual in an Old Testament narrative, so the reader is being signaled that the character entering the narrative here is special. As a descendant of Aaron, Israel’s first high priest (), he is eminently qualified to handle affairs related to the temple, which is an important part of the mission described in this chapter.
7:6  teacher well versed in the Law of Moses.
The other feature that makes Ezra special is his expert ability to teach God’s law. This is the second major aspect of his mission. As priest and lawgiver, Ezra effectively embodies the roles of both Aaron and Moses for the community of the new exodus.
the hand of the Lord . . . was on him.
As in and , God causes the king to assist the restoration process. “According to the hand of the king” is a Hebrew idiom that refers to a king’s generosity (used in ; ; ). By inserting “God” in place of “king” here in the context of Artaxerxes’s grant, the text makes the point that it is ultimately God’s generosity at work.
7:9  He had begun his journey . . . on the first day of the first month.
There is disagreement about what the word translated “begun” means. says that the actual travel begins on the twelfth day of the first month. probably means either that important preparations begin on the first day of the month or that the initial plan is to leave on that day. The intention seems to be to make a connection with the exodus from Egypt, in which the Israelites leave Egypt on the first day of the first month. These preparations or plans are part of God’s redemption of exiled Israel, which is patterned on the redemption from Egypt.
7:10  For Ezra had devoted himself . . . and to teaching.
The Hebrew behind “devoted himself” could be translated “set his heart.” Ezra has a firm commitment to learning God’s word, applying it sincerely in his own life, and teaching it to other Israelites. The position of this verse in the present context implies that Ezra both embraces the tasks described and is aided by God because of his devotion to God’s word.

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7:14  is in your hand.
This is an idiom that simply means “you possess” or “is at your disposal.” It appears again in verse 25.

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7:25  appoint magistrates and judges.
This role, along with teaching the law, presents Ezra as a second Moses (compare ). Most historians think the intent was for Ezra to teach the law of God only to the Jewish people in Trans-Euphrates. This may be true historically, but the biblical text is somewhat ambiguous, probably capitalizing on an ambiguity in Artaxerxes’s original edict. The result is a foreshadowing of the day when all, even the Gentiles, will follow God’s law (; ). This is an important feature of the prophesied restoration of Israel, moving beyond resettlement in Palestine and reinstitution of temple worship.
7:27  to bring honor to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem in this way.
shares several themes with this passage: God’s word known by his people (59:21); wealth of the Gentiles coming to Israel (60:5, 11), including specifically silver and gold (60:9); Gentiles supplying sacrificial animals (60:7); and foreign kings contributing to the glory of the Jerusalem temple (60:10–13). Ezra seems to recognize these parallels and draws attention to them by using the word translated “bring honor,” an infrequently used Hebrew verb occurring in , (NIV “adorn”). He implies that what is happening in his own day is a foretaste of the blessings of restoration promised in Isaiah.
7:28  extended his good favor to me.
The word translated “favor,” when used of God’s disposition, is typically connected to his covenant relationship with Israel. Thus, Ezra recognizes from the instructions he has been given that God is working out his covenant promises through him. As a result, he is encouraged to begin the process of fulfilling his mission.
What I really see is the key to this entire chapter…possibly this entire book is verse 10
Ezra 7:10 CSB
10 Now Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.
Before we get into verse 10, I asked each of you to read .
Was there any verse, did God speak directly to you through any of those 176 verses?
Does anyone want to share?
Ok, let’s go back to

Study, Obey, Teach

Study

You hold a miracle. Whether digital or paper – it is the revealed Word of God. Breathed out by the Holy Spirit and breathed in by Jesus-followers all over the world. By it, we are sustained; and by it, we find revival.  By it, we are sanctified; and by it, we live.
For thousands of years, men and women of God longed to see what you hold. The complete and Holy Word of God in a language they could understand and study.  In a language they could apply and obey. In a language they could illuminate and teach.
Ezra was one such believer, an old testament priest with a few scrolls to light his path. God chose him to oversee the restoration of social and religious order in Jerusalem after Israel’s return from captivity.  God used Ezra as a catalyst for one of the greatest revivals in the Old Testament. 
The key to his influence and impact is found in the book of Ezra chapter 7 verse 10. 

“He dedicated himself to study, obey, and teach the Word of God.”

Question: “How do you study the Holy Spirit revealed Word of God?”
In 2016, Lifeway Research published a study of American Christian views on Bible Reading. It revealed that 70% of U.S. believers rarely systematically read or study their Bibles. Most of us, according to the study, pick and choose a verse at a time, return to a favorite passage, or simply flip the Bible open and read where our eyes land. We treat the sixty-six-course living Bread of God like a Chinese buffet.
The Bible is a literary work meant to be read in its entirety. Imagine the confusion of reading a favorite novel the same way most of us treat the Bible.
Meaningful Bible study begins with prayer. Prayer is the incense that prepares our minds and hearts to receive the Word of God. Pray that the Holy Spirit reveals God’s Word to your mind, that your heart receives it, and that your body obeys it.

As you read your Bible, ask yourself these three questions: 

-What was the Holy Spirit saying to the initial audience it was written to?  -What is the Holy Spirit teaching me now?  -How can I apply it?
Next, spend some time intentionally meditating on a passage that stood out in your study. Think about it throughout the day. Hide it in your heart and memorize it.
Additionally, you should read what others have written about that passage. Many Bible scholars like Matthew Henry, James Strong, Dr. J. Vernon Mcgee, and Dr. Thomas Constable attempted to climb the heights of scripture. They, and others like them, recorded what they saw so that you might stand on their shoulders and read what the Holy Spirit revealed to them.
We must study God’s word every day. The Law of God is like a mirror, it reveals our flaws and failures. The longer we neglect His Word, the further our hearts drift away from God. This happened to Israel, and they disobeyed God’s command to be a people set apart from the rest of the nations. When Ezra heard of it, he was immediately heart-broken and felt a personal responsibility for Israel’s sin. He knew that Israel’s repentance and obedience were necessary for revival and restoration.
Challenge:  As you read today's Scripture ask yourself these three questions:  
What did it mean to them?   What is the Spirit teaching me?   How can I apply it?

Obey

Study. Obey. Teach. That order is important.
You should not teach what you have not put into practice, and you cannot effectively practice what you have not studied.
Ezra knew the Word of God. He knew that social and religious restoration required personal application and obedience of God’s word. 
As we finish up Ezra in the coming weeks, the actions of the Remnants may surprise you due to the foundation laid out thus far, so consider this: how many times do we – as Jesus-followers – wed the things of this world to our lives when we are called to be set apart? We cannot find restoration, renewal, or revival while holding onto the things Jesus died to free us from.
Obedience is the glue that binds the Word of God to our hearts.
It binds us to other believers.
If prayer is incense, then obedience is the smoke from that incense. It fills our lives and permeates the world around us.
Obedience is the evidence of our faith, the evidence of the Holy Spirit working in us. Obedience is the translation of scripture into our lives.
We cannot obey God’s word on our own. Jesus did not die and come back to life so that we could live better lives, as if we could obey God on our own. He was slain for our transgressions, He was raised for our sanctification so that He, through His Spirit, could live the Christian life through us and for us.
This is how you obey: Study the Word of God and do what it says by the power of the Holy Spirit living in you.
If that seems impossible, know this: the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in you to accomplish more than you could ever ask, think, or imagine.  
Question:  “What are you holding on to that Jesus died to free you from?”

Teach

Not everyone is called to teach, but we all – by the example of our lives – teach others what we believe. We teach by obedience, and we obey what we study and believe.
What we have read and studied through Ezra thus far has marked the beginning of a great revival in Jerusalem.
Every revival starts with a return to the Word of God. Only when we study and obey the Holy Scriptures can revival begin in us. Only when we teach others to do the same can revival spread from us. 
The most effective Bible translation is not the one in your heart language, it’s not the New Living Translation or even the King James Version. The best, most effective Bible translation is your life and how you translate the word of God into personal obedience.
The world may never know what goes on in your prayer closet, but it will see how that time is translated into your daily life. 
You have the Spirit of God at work in you. You have the complete Holy Word of God to guide the steps of your life.
Live it well.
Be an example to others so that they will see your good works and give God the glory. 

Isaiah 28:29 NASB95
29 This also comes from the Lord of hosts, Who has made His counsel wonderful and His wisdom great.
See also ;

Psalm 147:5 NASB95
5 Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.
See also ; ;

Land the plane...

God’s wisdom is profound

Again, let me reiterate one more time...
Ezra’s devotion to God’s word illustrates an approach to be emulated by all believers.
The three ways he is said to interact with it remain applicable today.
First, there is no substitute for careful study. Much damage has been done within the church because of careless reading and interpretation.
Second, study is not merely for the sake of knowledge but must translate into personal application. Scripture is intended to change our lives, including our thoughts, attitudes, and actions.
Finally, what is learned and practiced must also be communicated. The New Testament commands believers to encourage one another with Christ’s truth, and it broadens this with the call to share the gospel with unbelievers to the fullest possible extent.
Some specific results of Ezra’s devotion to God’s word are evident in this text.
Because of his familiarity with Isaiah’s prophecy, Ezra is able to recognize how events occurring around him contribute to the fulfillment of God’s promises.
This, in turn, leads him to see that God is and has been at work in his own life, preparing him and providing for him so that he can play a major part in the restoration.
This realization motivates him to invest himself in the opportunity placed before him.
It is a great example of the sovereignty of God and human responsibility working together.
The better believers understand God’s intentions for his people and the world, the better they are able to discern God’s activity in their own setting and cooperate with him.
Finally, Ezra is able to gain perspective on the king’s actions. His cultural knowledge enables him to understand the political reasons why Artaxerxes might give the support he does. But his biblical knowledge lets him understand that God is behind this, working out his own purposes.
Mark this down… The entire Old Testament, including the law of Moses, continues to have an important function in preparing individual Christians to do good work (). Throughout the Bible, God’s salvation progresses toward the fundamental ideal of complete obedience to his word, reversing the disobedience in the garden of Eden.

STUDY-OBEY-TEACH

God’s wisdom exhibited
Isaiah 40:28 NASB95
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.
See also ; ; ;

God’s wisdom exhibited

God’s wisdom is superior to human wisdom

Isaiah 55:9 NASB95
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
See also

God’s wisdom exhibited

God’s wisdom in creation

Jeremiah 10:12 NASB95
12 It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom; And by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens.
See also ; ; ; ; ;

God’s wisdom as an agent in creation

Wisdom here is given personality, and may refer to the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.

God’s wisdom in historical events

Isaiah 31:2 NASB95
2 Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster And does not retract His words, But will arise against the house of evildoers And against the help of the workers of iniquity.
See also ;

God’s wisdom in knowing the human mind

1 Chronicles 28:9 NASB95
9 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.

Jesus Christ the wisdom of God

1 Corinthians 1:30 NASB95
30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
See also ; ; ;

God’s wisdom in the gospel

1 Corinthians 1:25 NASB95
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
See also ;

God gives his wisdom to human beings

Ephesians 1:17 NASB95
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
See also ; ; ; ; ; ;

Examples of God’s wisdom

; ; ;
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