Hillview Baptist Church
Morning Worship, March 22, 2020
- Scripture ReadingOpening PrayerIntroductionBig Idea: Ezra is a New Moses for the New Exodus to Refocus the People on God’s LawExposition 1 (1-10)1 Now after this, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, 2 son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, 3 son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, 4 son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, 5 son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest—“Now after this” this introduces a major setting change.Fast forward about 70 years to ArtexerxesIntroduce EzraHighlight lineage from Aaron the high priestPoint out - Many Jews had lost their lineage but some, such as Ezra had kept theirs (Ezra 2:62)6 this 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.Ezra basically leads a “second” second exodus.Notice, he was a “scribe skilled in the Law of Moses”In other words, He knew the Bible, or at least the Torah and the other writings in his dayPoint about Bible (Moses author of Torah)Also, the “king granted him everything he asked”Why?“the hand of the Lord was upon him”God has raised up Ezra to lead His people7 And there went up also to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king, some of the people of Israel, and some of the priests and Levites, the singers and gatekeepers, and the temple servants. 8 And Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king.VSS. 7&8Tell us...when Ezra led this second group of returnees(7th year of Artexerxes, 458 BC)And that some priests, Levites, singers and gatekeepers came with him.Likely there were others as well, plus the housholdsThey arrived in the fifth month of that year9 For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him.So the whole journey basically took 4 monthsBut notice the key words here that emphasize something that was already said“For the good hand of his God was on him”Last time it was just “the hand of the lord” but this time it is the “good hand”This emphasizes that God’s hand, or God’s working power in the affairs of this world, is Good!Now let me say something here, God is Sovereign, meaning that all things are within His controlBut His “hand” (God’s working power in the affairs of this world) is not on all things. There is a difference.For instance, the Apostle Paul in the NT makes it clear that God does not “cause us to sin” and therefore He is not guilty of that sin.God has a general desire, a specific will, and also a permissive will.Basically, the Bible can say that God desires all men to come to repentance but that is not His specific will. Instead, He has chosen to show grace on a people to restore His creation to.God also can “harden a heart” like that of Pharaoh yet permit him to sin. What this means is that Pharaoh is still responsible for his own sin but God uses Pharaohs sinfulness for His own purpose.Or God can soften a heart like Cyrus, Darius, and Artexerxes.This does not mean that these kings came to repentance but that God is able, through whatever means He chooses, to steer the events of the world and minds of kings using our own sinfulness and image bearing natural goodness to bring about his ultimate will.Some things are specifically His will (declarative)Some things are allowed for His purposes (permissive)And some things are against God’s general desires but are not permitted for the ultimate Good.Let’s look10 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 “set his heart”to study the Law of the Lord”to “do it (the law of the Lord)”"to teach it” to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.I. God’s Word can be learned and is powerful so decide today that you will learn and do it.Also, consider teaching others as Ezra didExposition 2 (11-26) The Letter of Artexerxes11 This is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, a man learned in matters of the commandments of the Lord and his statutes for Israel:In verse 11, we see another letter from a kingThis letter is written to Ezra and is basically a Royal authorization for Ezra’s upcoming activities.Two decrees (13 and 21)Let’s look at the first...13 I make a decree that anyone of the people of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom, who freely offers to go to Jerusalem, may go with you.Basically, the king is authorizing another wave of exiles to return to the Holy Land14 For you are sent by the king and his seven counselors to make inquiries about Judah and Jerusalem according to the Law of your God, which is in your hand,In verse 14, we see that the King had additional motives.He trusted Ezra to take a real assessment of the situation in the land and report back to him15 and also to carry the silver and gold that the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, 16 with all the silver and gold that you shall find in the whole province of Babylonia, and with the freewill offerings of the people and the priests, vowed willingly for the house of their God that is in Jerusalem. 17 With this money, then, you shall with all diligence buy bulls, rams, and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings, and you shall offer them on the altar of the house of your God that is in Jerusalem. 18 Whatever seems good to you and your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and gold, you may do, according to the will of your God. 19 The vessels that have been given you for the service of the house of your God, you shall deliver before the God of Jerusalem. 20 And whatever else is required for the house of your God, which it falls to you to provide, you may provide it out of the king’s treasury.Additionally, in verses 15-20, again we see God’s miraculous provision by a kingdom giving away riches and even providing more than was needed.Notice, in this context also, the purpose of this is to worship Godverse 17 says...17 With this money, then, you shall with all diligence buy bulls, rams, and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings, and you shall offer them on the altar of the house of your God that is in Jerusalem.And then the abundance is to be used, verse 18 in whatever way “seems good to you.”18 Whatever seems good to you and your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and gold, you may do, according to the will of your God.And then they are basically given a blank check20 And whatever else is required for the house of your God, which it falls to you to provide, you may provide it out of the king’s treasury.Second Decree (21)21 “And I, Artaxerxes the king, make a decree to all the treasurers in the province Beyond the River: Whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, requires of you, let it be done with all diligence,The second decree is basically that Ezra has authority over everyone in the entire “province beyond the River”There are some limits to this authority (which basically amounts to the authority to tax)22 up to 100 talents of silver, 100 cors of wheat, 100 baths of wine, 100 baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. 23 Whatever is decreed by the God of heaven, let it be done in full for the house of the God of heaven, lest his wrath be against the realm of the king and his sons.Notice also that the king is doing this to receive blessing from God for his family24 We also notify you that it shall not be lawful to impose tribute, custom, or toll on anyone of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the doorkeepers, the temple servants, or other servants of this house of God.They are given a hall pass25 “And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the province Beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God. And those who do not know them, you shall teach. 26 Whoever will not obey the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be strictly executed on him, whether for death or for banishment or for confiscation of his goods or for imprisonment.”And here in verses 25-26 we see that king asked Ezra to basically enforce the Law of God.But also, in verse 26, to enforce with all authority, even up to deathII. God if fully able to provide for His work so take Scripture seriously and obey it (11-26)If you take the first point seriously, and you study Scripture, you will find things that are difficult for you to doEven things you can’t afford to doTrust that God can provideTrust that God’s Word contains truth.Exposition 3 (27-28) Ezra’s response27 Blessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, 28 and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the Lord my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.Ezra set his heart to learn and teach the Word and in the end, God blessed it.Notice Ezra gives all the glory not to himself, not to the king, but to God because God “put such a thing as this into the heart of the king”God “extended… His steadfast love” to Ezra and...Ezra “took courage” because “the hand of the Lord” was on him.You know this verse but I’m going to show and read it anyway.28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.This means in some way God’s hand is on you too if indeed you are “called according to his purpose”If you are a believer, this is youIII. When God accomplishes things through you, give Him the glory (27-28)Conclusion
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