by Wayne Barber
Ezra was a man that we all can learn from as we look at his life and the times in which he lived. He lived in dark times. He lived during a time in which his nation had been humbled by God for its disobedience. Their prophet Jeremiah recorded God's judgment of them: "My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves…broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jer. 2:13).
But, God always has His people. There is always a remnant, however small, that is willing to obey God and hence is used as a light for others. Ezra 7:10 tells us all we need to know about one such man: "For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel."
We saw in the last article as we looked at this verse that Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord. The promises of God are wonderful no matter at what time in history that we live, but it was the will of God that caught Ezra's attention. The word "law" refers to that which God intends for man. And the word "Lord" is the Hebrew word Jehovah. Ezra knew that Jehovah, the I AM, was the only source and answer to all his questions. He was a wise man to realize this. When the people were looking everywhere but the Word and will of God, Ezra sought the Law of the Lord.
But the study of God's Word is never enough. God's Word is not just for "information," but for "transformation." It is one thing for us to get into God's Word and quite another for God's Word to get into us.It is not until we yield to what we know that God's Word gets into us.
Ezra 7:10 continues with: "For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it." The word translated "practice" is in the qal stem. It refers to a continual action, a lifestyle. Ezra didn't just go to the Word of God for a one-time fix. It was to be the continual habit of his life to study and to practice God's Word.
I've been known to call some people "mugwumps." Then I would explain that a mugwump was a bird that sat on the fence with its mug on one side and its wump on the other. Of course, there is no such bird, but it makes a great illustration. The point is that there are those like a mugwump that go to church every Sunday and shout and sing with the best of them and even carry their Bibles with them. But, they have never intended for one second to let that same Word of God dictate to their lives. I learned a long time ago it is not how high you jump but how straight you walk when you come down.
Ezra's practice pointed the way for others. It created a thirst in others. His obedience to God's will was a contagious factor that turned a light on for all to see. We face the tragedy today of those who want to teach what they are not willing to live themselves. Jesus so plainly said that it is not what we know about Him that makes the difference but that which we obey of what we know. John 14:21: "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me." The word "keeps" is the word "teréo," a present active verb. It means to keep watch over, while the present tense gives it the idea of a continual action. It carries the idea of guarding something. It comes from the word " terós " which means a warden; to perform something watchfully. This becomes a lifestyle, and our behavior sends a message that we walk what we talk. We become light for others, so that they can see which way to go.
(to be concluded)