“For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” (Ezra 7:10 ESV)
Recently I have been reading through the Old Testament book of Ezra for my personal Bible study. When Ezra finally arrives on the scene in chapter seven, we immediately discover that he was a man on a mission. His mission was simple: study God’s Word, obey it, and teach it to others. As we think about what it practically looks like to follow Jesus ourselves, Ezra’s mission isn’t all that different from ours.
First, Ezra “set his heart to study the Law of the LORD”. Since Ezra was a scribe (a religious scholar and expert in the Bible), this was kind of his job! But no matter how you earn your living, a desire to know the Bible better is ultimately a matter of the heart. In my experience, the best way to learn the Bible is simply to soak myself in it a little every day. If you’re not a big reader, then buy an audio version and listen to it while you’re driving down the road, doing field work, or (like my wife) washing the dishes. Going one step further, commit to being part of a Sunday School class or a small group Bible study at Forreston Grove. Since none of us is as smart as all of us, meeting together around God’s Word is an incredibly powerful way to deepen your understanding of the Bible.
But Ezra wasn’t satisfied with a head full of Bible trivia, and neither should we. We are told that “he had set his heart…to do it”. You see, Ezra reminds us that whenever we meet with God through His Word, the goal is not simply information, but transformation. Christians ought to be practical folks, refusing to settle for fat heads with shriveled hearts, hands, and feet. Once we’ve read and understood the point of a Bible passage, we should ask ourselves, “What does this say about God? What does this say about me? What am I believing/saying/doing now that is in conflict with God’s rule over my life? How is the Holy Spirit calling me to turn from myself and rely on Jesus’ grace more heavily?”
Finally, we learn that when we obey God’s Word and put it into practice, there is a natural desire to share what we have learned with others. After studying and applying the Law, Ezra “set his heart…to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” You may not be a formally trained and commissioned Jewish scribe or a seminary graduate, but there are people in your life whom God has given you the opportunity to teach. Your husband or wife. A close friend or the neighbor boy. Your kids and grandkids. Recalling the impact that a godly grandma and mom can have on a boy, Paul wrote to his protégé Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Tim 2:5). I am not talking about rigging up a chalkboard in your house and sitting the family down for an evening of Hebrew exegesis (that would be awful!). But if this is new and scary to you, start here: After supper, while your family is still around the table, take turns reading part of the gospel of Mark together out loud. Spend 3-5 minutes talking together about how that passage encouraged and challenged each of you. Wrap it all up by praying that the Holy Spirit would help each of you to understand and apply what you’ve read. It really is that simple!
May what was written about Ezra in his day be said of the people of Forreston Grove in our own.
For His Glory,