Reading: Ezra 7; 9:1-10:17
Summary: Ezra was a teacher, specifically of God’s Law. His contribution to the “restoration of the Jews” following Babylonian captivity was to guide them in knowing and practicing God’s word. That could, at times, be very challenging when the people had long neglected God’s word. And it was that very fact that hand landed them in captivity in the first place.
Old habits die hard, but Ezra was a leader strong enough to not allow these returned Jews to fall into those old ways.
Hating God’s Word
How do you feel when you read God’s word? Encouraged? Built up? Motivated? Happy? Comforted? Hopeful?
Of course, many circumstances go into our emotional response to the Bible. But surely, one of the reasons we love the Bible is because it can make us feel so good. It can give us comfort for our grief, hope for our despair, joy for our sorrow, strength for our weakness, and so on. How marvelous are the “words of eternal life.”
Just as for every day there is a night and for every laughter there is a tear, so also there is another side to what God’s word can, and should, do for us. Think about the response of Ezra and the people. They trembled and Ezra tore his clothes, pulled hair from his head and beard and sat appalled (Ezra 9:3). This was all because the people heard the word of God and Ezra heard of the faithlessness of the people.
Sometimes the Bible makes us feel so good, but it might also make us feel so bad. Remember Jehoiakim reacted violently (literally cutting up the scroll of Jeremiah with a knife and burning it in the fire) and Felix became alarmed (Jer. 36:23; Acts 24:25).
The real test of our love for God and His word doesn’t come when we’re made to feel better by it, but worse. It’s not when I love what it says, but when I hate it. What comes next tells everything about us.