Ezra’s Role in Helping the Israelites
Ezra played an important role in helping the Israelites return from exile. He was a priest and a scribe who was sent by Artaxerxes, king of Persia, to take a group of Jewish exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem (Ezra 7:8, 12). He was one of the three leaders who were sent on an important mission to Israel. Zerubbabel rebuilt the temple (ch. 3:8), Nehemiah reconstructed the walls (Nehemiah 1 &2), and Ezra restored the worship. This priest recorded the reorganization of the sacrificial service, and the beginning of the rebuilding of the temple, all of which took place within about two years early in the reign of Cyrus.
When Ezra returned to Jerusalem, he was disappointed and grieved by the weak spiritual condition of his people. But he trusted in the Lord for giving him the strength to carry on the work of reformation. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah were written to fulfill the word of God and set obedience as the primary motive for worship. And the Lord honored the priest’s faith and dedication.
During the following 13 years, the work progressed slowly against opposition until the account under Darius l appeared, who spoke of the declaration to resume the building of the temple and its completion and dedication. This work continued and Ezra’s carried on his task of teaching the word of God, calling for reformation and restoration to the worship of God, reinstating the temple service, celebrating Jewish feasts, and the re-dedication of the temple. These actions led to a real revival in Jerusalem.
One of the predicaments that Ezra faced was over the marriages between Jewish leaders and heathen women (ch. 9:2). He openly condemned the mixed marriages and encouraged the Jews to separate from their foreign wives to keep the pure faith of their fathers. And He called for a reconstruction of the communities in accordance to the Torah (ch. 7:10).
In 457 b.c., Ezra was sent back to Judea by King Artaxerxes with far-reaching authority to reorganize the nation’s administration according to Mosaic law. He told of his return and some of his reforms, but again broke the thread of continuity for more than ten years until Nehemiah appeared on the scene of action as governor, and reported his activities in the book which bears his name.
The book of Ezra illustrates how few people can do great things for God when led by God-fearing, sincere, unselfish, but fearless and determined leaders. This priest did an amazing work of spiritual revival for the hand of the Lord his God was on him (ch. 7:8).
In His service,