Stephen Lindemann
·
1 Feb, 21 ·
5 min read

“Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.” …“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 7:6, 10

Who is your god? Seems an odd question to ask anyone who claims to be a Christian. From a theoretical point of view, we would all claim that Jehovah, the God of the Bible, is our God. But from a practical point of view, I’m not so sure our lives accurately reflect this belief. You see, despite what we may claim in theory, our ‘practical god’ is that on which we focus the majority of our time, energy, talents and resources.

In his highly acclaimed book “Counterfeit Gods“, Pastor Tim Keller wrote:

…the human heart is an idol factory…it takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfilment, if we attain them … What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.
Tim Keller, COUNTERFEIT GODS, p. xiv, xvii

The Bible provides many encouraging examples of what it looks like when we keep first things first, what it looks like when we honour God above all else, what it looks like when our practical theology is aligned to our theoretical theology. In other words – what it looks like when God’s people ‘walk the talk’.

Ezra is one such example. There are at least six different ways in which Ezra’s behaviour toward God matched up to his beliefs about God.

Passionate Commitment

Ezra was ‘all in’ when it came to his relationship with God. He made a deliberate choice of the will to follow God’s law.

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)

Genuine followers of Christ don’t shrink back when the going gets tough. Quite the opposite. Guided by the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, faithful disciples double-down and push through obstacles. We see this same resolve exhibited by our Lord when it came time for His earthly ministry to culminate in His sacrificial death, burial, resurrection and ascension:

“As the time drew near for Him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51)

Thoughtful Commitment

Ezra put his money where his mouth is. He demonstrated his full commitment to God’s mission by engaging his mind and working hard to understand God’s Word.

“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)

Hundreds of years later, the Jews in Berea followed Ezra’s example when they were confronted with New Covenant teaching from Paul and Silas. They wanted to see for themselves if Paul’s teaching about Jesus stacked up with Old Covenant prophecy.

“The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:10-11)

Proven Commitment

Ezra set his mind to not only study God’s Word, but to put it into practice. He didn’t just tell people how to live, he showed them. He led by example.

“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)

Selfless Commitment

Ezra didn’t keep his hard-earned understanding of God’s amazing promises to himself. He enthusiastically and generously shared them with others.

“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; cf. 7:11,21; Neh. 8:1-8)

The Apostle Paul personified Jesus’ Great Commission: to go into all the world to make disciples of all nations teaching them to live out all that He said and did (cf. Matt. 28:19-20). Due to the integrity of his example, Paul was well positioned to instruct young Pastor Timothy, and us, to do the same.

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Tim. 4:1-4)
Faithful, uncompromising commitment to God brings great joy.  Click To Tweet

Courageous Commitment

Ezra demonstrated great courage. He feared God (cf. Prov. 29:25; Neh. 7:2; Luke 12:4-5) more than man:

I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was on me” (Ezra 7:28b)

Joyful Commitment

Faithful, uncompromising commitment to God brings great joy.

“And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, "Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Neh. 8:9-10)

Conclusion

Ezra demonstrated commitment to God that was passionate, thoughtful, proven, selfless, courageous and joyful. God blessed Ezra’s faith and obedience. God blesses those whose hearts are fully committed to Him and choose to live a life of integrity before Him (cf. Prov. 3:5-8).

“...for the good hand of His God was on him. 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 7:9b-10)