The Hand of the Lord

THE HAND OF THE LORD MY GOD WAS UPON ME”

Ezra 7:28

“In Rabbinic traditions, Ezra is metaphorically referred to as the “flowers that appear on the earth” signifying the springtime in the national history of Judaism. The Book of Ezra describes how he led a group of Judean exiles living in Babylon to their home city of Jerusalem (Ezra 8.2-14) where he enforced observance of the Torah and cleansed the community of mixed marriages.”

Ezra brought many back to the Lord after the Babylonian captivity. It was not enough to lift the yoke of slavery, thus, Ezra was rejoining them to the Name and the Word of the Lord. He also searched for genealogies that were taken abroad, so that the Priesthood could be restored in the New Temple. For this purpous the Hand of the Lord was upon Ezra, the Scribe. Does this mean the Lord would instruct Ezra on what to write?

Here is what is prophesised about John the Baptist by un-named priests;

“He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.”

The same could be applied to Ezra who prepared THE WAY for his Lord and God – and not another prophet. John was born with THE HAND that points THE WAY – home!

“What then will this child be?” The hand of the Lord was with him.”

The news of the birth of John was broadcast “abroad”. Where is abroad? Babylon – Egypt?

There was no threat to slaughter the newborn by King Herod which caused Mary and Joseph into Egypt. I suspect Elizabeth and Zacahariah were bid to bring John to Egypt where an ancient school of Levite Prophets dwelt. However, “abroad” could mean overseas.

When the priests asked Zachariah what name his son would answer to, JOHN’S tongue was freed and he said;

“My name is John.”

John then wrote his name on a slate denoting he would be a great Scribe and Prophet after Ezra, because John wrote with the Hand of God.

“He asked (signed) for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.”
They all marveled. His mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue freed, and he spoke, blessing God. Fear came on all who lived around them, and all these sayings were talked about throughout all the hill country of Judea. All who heard them laid them up in their heart, saying, “What then will this child be?” The hand of the Lord was with him.

I suspect the Apocalyptic Ezra inspired Revelations that was written by John the Baptist – with the Hand of God. What is the penalty for alterig God’s Truth?

In the Koran, Jesus speaks the moment he is born. Wrong! Repent!

Jon ‘The Nazarite’

Copyright 2012

The apocalyptic Ezra traditionsThe apocalyptic fourth book of Ezra (also called the second book of Esdras) was written c.AD 100, probably in Hebrew-Aramaic. It was one of the most important sources for Jewish theology at the end of the 1st century. In this book, Ezra has a seven part prophetic revelation, converses with an angel or God three times and has four visions.

Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

ashamed to ask for a military escort – 8:22
— God’s hand was upon them, and they safely arrived in
Jerusalem! – 8:31-32

And fear came on all that dwelled round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.
American Standard Version
And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.

1
: over a wide area : widely
2
: away from one’s home
3
: beyond the boundaries of one’s country

INTRODUCTION

1. The Bible is filled with stories of people who lived their lives
under the influence of God…
a. Through deep faith and a willingness to serve, God used them to
fulfill His purposes
b. Ezra is one such example of what can happen:
1) When a person determines to seek God
2) And allows the Lord to use him

2. In 457 B.C., Ezra led a group of Jews from Babylonian captivity back
to Jerusalem…
a. About eighty years after a group led by Zerubbabel to rebuild the
temple
b. The mission of Ezra’s group was to restore the people of God

3. In the book of Ezra…
a. The first six chapters describe the work of Zerubbabel
b. The final four chapters relate Ezra’s arrival and the great
restoration he brought about

[The theme of Ezra’s life and work could be stated as “The Hand Of The
Lord My God Was Upon Me,” for six times in two chapters he thus
attributes his success. In our lesson, let’s first notice…]

I. HOW THE HAND OF THE LORD WAS UPON EZRA

A. IN RECEIVING REQUESTS FROM THE KING…
1. Notice Ezra 7:6
2. Because the hand of the Lord was upon Ezra, Artaxerxes allowed
him:
a. To go to Jerusalem – 7:12-13
b. To take silver and gold to buy animals for sacrifice – 7:
14-17
c. To buy what is needed for the service of the house of God
– 7:18-23
d. To be free from taxation – 7:24
e. To set up magistrates and judges – 7:25-26
— Ezra recognized the hand of God was at work in his behalf!
– 7:27-28

B. IN FINDING SERVANTS FOR THE TEMPLE…
1. Prepared to leave, Ezra noted none of sons of Levi – 8:15
2. He sends men to find some who will go with them – 8:16-17
— By the good hand of God upon them, they find 38 Levites and
220 Nethinim to assist them! – 8:18-20

C. IN PROVIDING SAFE JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM…
1. Ezra proclaimed a fast to seek from God the right way to
travel – 8:21-23
2. Having told the king that God’s hand would be them, he was
ashamed to ask for a military escort – 8:22
— God’s hand was upon them, and they safely arrived in
Jerusalem! – 8:31-32

[From beginning to end the hand of the Lord was upon Ezra. Why did
Ezra enjoy the blessing of God’s provision in his life? Is there
anything we can glean from Ezra’s story that might ensure the hand of
God in our own lives?

I believe there is! Let me suggest some reasons…]

II. WHY THE HAND OF THE LORD WAS UPON EZRA

A. EZRA HAD PREPARED HIMSELF…
1. In a summary passage, we learn why God was with him – 7:9-10
2. God was with him “For (because) Ezra had prepared his heart”
a. “to seek the Law of the Lord” (to learn what God wanted him
to do)
b. “to do it” (to apply it to himself first)
c. “to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (and then
teach others)
— Ezra had first made himself “useful for the Master, prepared
for every good work” – cf. 2Ti 2:21

B. EZRA HAD SOUGHT THE LORD…
1. He believed that God would be with those who seek Him – 8:22
2. Thus he entreated God’s protection through fasting and prayer
– 8:21-23
— Ezra believed that God rewarded those who diligently seek Him;
such faith undoubtedly pleased God – cf. He 11:6

C. EZRA WAS WILLING TO STEP OUT IN FAITH…
1. Trusting the Lord would protect them, they began their
perilous journey – 8:31
2. It was not easy, for there were enemies and potential for
ambush along the way!
— But Ezra illustrated that he had a living, working faith!
– Jm 2:17,26; Ga 5:6

D. EZRA WAS WILLING TO FACE DIFFICULT SITUATIONS…
1. Upon his arrival, Ezra found a difficult situation – 9:1-2
a. Many of the Israelites had inter-married with Gentile women
b. The rulers and leaders of Israel were the worst violators
2. He was moved to fasting and prayer – 9:3-15
a. Others joined him (“everyone who trembled at the words of
the God of Israel”)
b. He offered prayer confessing the sins of Israel
3. He accepted the responsibility that was his – 10:1-8
a. Encouraged by those willing to repent
b. Leading the people to a great restoration!
— It would have been so easy to rationalize away any need for
the people to change; but Ezra did not let the emotionally
charged issue deter him from doing God’s will!

CONCLUSION

1. The hand of the Lord was upon Ezra because he…
a. Had prepared himself
b. Sought the Lord
c. Was willing to step out in faith
d. Was willing to face difficult situations

2. Ezra was not the only person who experienced the hand of the Lord
upon him…
a. The Lord was also with a contemporary, Nehemiah – cf. Neh 2:18
b. Sometimes the hand of the Lord was for the purpose of judgment
– cf. 1Sa 5:6
c. But here we have considered the working of God for good in the
life of his servant

3. How will the hand of the Lord be for us? For our good, if we emulate
Ezra by…
a. Preparing ourselves to be useful to the Master!
b. Seeking the Lord with diligence and faith!
c. Stepping out in faith against the odds
d. Facing difficult issues and situations head on

Let the example of Ezra encourage us to so live in Christ, that one day
we can look back at the events in our lives and say:

“The Hand Of The Lord My God Was Upon Me!”

Ezra ( /ˈɛzrə/; Hebrew: עזרא, Ezra;[1] fl. 480–440 BC), also called Ezra the Scribe (Hebrew: עזרא הסופר, Ezra ha-Sofer) and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra. According to the Hebrew Bible he returned from the Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem (Ezra 7-10 and Neh 8). According to First Esdras, a non-canonical Greek translation of the Book of Ezra, he was also a high priest.

His name may be an abbreviation of Azaryahu, “God-helps”. In the Greek Septuagint the name is rendered Esdras (Greek: Ἔσδρας), from which Latin: Esdras.

The Book of Ezra describes how he led a group of Judean exiles living in Babylon to their home city of Jerusalem (Ezra 8.2-14) where he enforced observance of the Torah and cleansed the community of mixed marriages.[2][3]

Ezra, known as “Ezra the scribe” in Chazalic literature,[4] is a highly respected figure in Judaism.[5]

Contents [hide]
1 In the Hebrew Bible
2 In later Second Temple period literature
2.1 1 Esdras
2.2 Josephus
2.3 The apocalyptic Ezra traditions
3 Ezra in rabbinic literature
4 Ezra in Christian traditions
5 Ezra in Islam
6 Academic view
6.1 Historicity and genealogy
6.2 Timeline
7 See also
8 References
9 Further reading
10 External links

[edit] In the Hebrew BibleThe canonical Book of Ezra and Book of Nehemiah are the oldest sources for the activity of Ezra,[3] whereas many of the other books ascribed to Ezra (First Esdras, 3-6 Ezra) are later literary works dependent on the canonical books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Book of Ezra-Nehemiah
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one scroll. (Nehemiah 3:32, footnote)[6] Later the Jews divided this scroll and called it First and Second Ezra. Modern Hebrew Bibles call the two books Ezra and Nehemiah, as do other modern Bible translations. A few parts of the Book of Ezra (4:8 to 6:18 and 7:12:12-26) were written in Aramaic, and the majority in Hebrew, Ezra himself being skilled in both languages.[7][8] Ezra, a descendant of Seraiah the high priest, was living in Babylon when in the seventh year of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, the king sent him to Jerusalem to teach the laws of God to any who did not know them. Ezra led a large body of exiles back to Jerusalem, where he discovered that Jewish men had been marrying non-Jewish women. He tore his garments in despair and confessed the sins of Israel before God, then braved the opposition of some of his own countrymen to purify the community by enforcing the dissolution of the sinful marriages. Some years later Artaxerxes sent Nehemiah, a Jewish noble in his personal service, to Jerusalem as governor with the task of rebuilding the city walls. Once this task was completed Nehemiah had Ezra read the Law of Moses (the Torah) to the assembled Jews, and the people and priests entered into a covenant to keep the law and separate themselves from all other peoples.

[edit] In later Second Temple period literature[edit] 1 Esdras1 Esdras, probably from the late 2nd/early 1st centuries BCE, preserves a Greek text of Ezra and a part of Nehemiah distinctly different from that of Ezra-Nehemiah – in particular it eliminates Nehemiah from the story and gives some of his deeds to Ezra, as well as telling events in a different order. Scholars are divided on whether it is based on Ezra-Nehemiah, or reflects an earlier literary stage before the combination of Ezra and Nehemiah accounts.

[edit] JosephusThe first century Jewish historian, Josephus, deals with Ezra in his Antiquities of the Jews. He preferred 1 Esdras over the canonical Ezra–Nehemiah and placed Ezra as a contemporary of Xerxes son of Darius, rather than of Artaxerxes.[9]

[edit] The apocalyptic Ezra traditionsThe apocalyptic fourth book of Ezra (also called the second book of Esdras) was written c.AD 100, probably in Hebrew-Aramaic. It was one of the most important sources for Jewish theology at the end of the 1st century. In this book, Ezra has a seven part prophetic revelation, converses with an angel or God three times and has four visions. Ezra, thirty years into the Babylonian Exile (4 Ezra 3:1 / 2 Esdras 1:1), recounts the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple.[2] This would place these revelations in the year 557 BC, a full century before the date given in the canonical Ezra. The central theological themes are “the question of theodicy, God’s justness in the face of the triumph of the heathens over the pious, the course of world history in terms of the teaching of the four kingdoms,[10] the function of the law, the eschatological judgment, the appearance on Earth of the heavenly Jerusalem, the Messianic Period, at the end of which the Messiah will die,[11] the end of this world and the coming of the next, and the Last Judgment.”[2] Ezra restores the law that was destroyed with the burning of the Temple in Jerusalem. He dictates 24 books for the public (i.e. the Hebrew Bible) and another 70 for the wise alone (70 unnamed revelatory works).[12] At the end, he is taken up to heaven like Enoch and Elijah.[2] Ezra is seen as a new Moses in this book.[2]

There is also another work, thought to be influenced by this one, known as the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra.

[edit] Ezra in rabbinic literatureFurther information: Ezra in rabbinic literature

Woodcut for Die Bibel in Bildern, 1860, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld.Traditionally Judaism credits Ezra with establishing the Great Assembly of scholars and prophets, the forerunner of the Sanhedrin, as the authority on matters of religious law. The Great Assembly is credited with establishing numerous features of contemporary traditional Judaism in something like their present form, including Torah reading, the Amidah, and establishing the feast of Purim.[13]

In Rabbinic traditions, Ezra is metaphorically referred to as the “flowers that appear on the earth” signifying the springtime in the national history of Judaism. A disciple of Baruch ben Neriah, he favored study of the Law over the reconstruction of the Temple and thus because of his studies, he did not join the first party returning to Jerusalem in the reign of Cyrus. According to another opinion, he did not join the first party so as not to compete, even involuntarily, with Jeshua ben Jozadak for the office of chief priest.[13] According to Bamidbar Rabbah, Ezra was doubtful of the correctness of some words in the Torah and said, “Should Elijah… approve the text, the points [ed: dots that he scribed above the letters] will be disregarded; should he disapprove, the doubtful words will be removed from the text”.[13][14]

According to tradition, Ezra was the writer of the Books of Chronicles.[13]

In the Syrian village of Tedef, a shrine said to be the burial place of Ezra has been venerated by Jews for centuries. Another tradition locates his tomb near Basra, Iraq.

[edit] Ezra in Christian traditionsEarly Christian writers occasionally cited Ezra as author of the apocalyptic books attributed to him. Clement of Alexandria in his Stromata referred to Ezra as an example of prophetic inspiration, quoting a section from 2 Esdras.[15]

[edit] Ezra in IslamIn Islam he is known as Uzair (Arabic: عزير). He was mentioned in the Qur’an. Although he was not mentioned as as one of the Prophets of Islam, he is considered as one of them by some Muslim scholars, based on Islamic traditions.[16][17] His tomb at Al-ʻUzair on the banks of the Tigris near Basra, Iraq, is a pilgrimage site for the local Marsh Arabs.[18][19]

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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