God’s Renewing Word of Thankfulness and Praise
Ezra 7:11-28: The emperor Artaxerxes gives Ezra a document, outlining instructions for maintaining the Temple and the worship life of the people.
THE DOCUMENT WHICH EMPEROR ARTAXERXES GAVE TO EZRA
11 Emperor Artaxerxes gave the following document to Ezra, the priest and scholar, who had a thorough knowledge of the laws and commands which the Lord had given to Israel:
12 “From Emperor Artaxerxesto the priest Ezra, scholar in the Law of the God of Heaven.
13 “I command that throughout my empire all the Israelite people, priests, and Levites that so desire be permitted to go with you to Jerusalem.14 I, together with my seven counselors, send you to investigate the conditions in Jerusalem and Judah in order to see how well the Law of your God, which has been entrusted to you, is being obeyed.15 You are to take with you the gold and silver offerings which I and my counselors desire to give to the God of Israel, whose Temple is in Jerusalem.16 You are also to take all the silver and gold which you collect throughout the province of Babylon and the offerings which the Israelite people and their priests give for the Temple of their God in Jerusalem.
17 “You are to spend this money carefully and buy bulls, rams, lambs, grain, and wine and offer them on the altar of the Temple in Jerusalem.18 You may use the silver and gold that is left over for whatever you and your people desire, in accordance with the will of your God.19 You are to present to God in Jerusalem all the utensils that have been given to you for use in the Temple services.20 And anything else which you need for the Temple, you may get from the royal treasury.
21“I command all the treasury officials in West-of-Euphrates Province to provide promptly for Ezra, the priest and scholar in the Law of the God of Heaven, everything he asks you for,22 up to a limit of 7,500 pounds of silver, 500 bushels of wheat, 550 gallons of wine, 550 gallons of olive oil, and as much salt as needed.23 You must be careful to provide everything which the God of Heaven requires for his Temple, and so make sure that he is never angry with me or with those who reign after me.24 You are forbidden to collect any taxes from the priests, Levites, musicians, guards, workers, or anyone else connected with this Temple.
25 “You, Ezra, using the wisdom which your God has given you, are to appoint administrators and judges to govern all the people in West-of-Euphrates who live by the Law of your God. You must teach that Law to anyone who does not know it.26 If any disobey the laws of your God or the laws of the empire, they are to be punished promptly: by death or by exile or by confiscation of their property or by imprisonment.”
Ezra Praises God
27 Ezra said, “Praise the Lord, the God of our ancestors! He has made the emperor willing to honor in this way the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem.28 By God’s grace I have won the favor of the emperor, of his counselors, and of all his powerful officials; the Lord my God has given me courage, and I have been able to persuade many of the heads of the clans of Israel to return with me.”
TODAY’S KEY VERSE: EZRA 7:27
Ezra said, “Praise the LORD, the God of our ancestors! He has made the emperor willing to honor in this way the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem.”
How does Emperor Artaxerxes address Ezra in the opening of the document (verse 12)? What responsibility did the Persian emperor Artaxerxes assign to Ezra (verse 14)? Why would the emperor have chosen Ezra for this task? What else was Ezra instructed to do (verses 15-26)? How are responsibilities assigned within your community of faith and what tasks are needed to ensure the ongoing worship life of your faith community? Reread verses 27 and 28. For what does Ezra praise God? How will you praise God today?
I praise you, Lord God, today for ________________. Give me courage this day to speak your word and fill me with your wisdom. May all I do this day be in accord with your will and give honor and glory to you. Amen.
And now, join us in praying for the hurting people of Ukraine who fled their country without Scripture as well as those whom they have left behind. Loving and merciful God, Ukrainians have had to leave their Bibles behind as they seek to escape the war and conflict in their country. Thank you, God, that, through the generosity of Bible-A-Month Club partners, the spiritual comfort found in your Word is being met. In addition to those who have fled the country, hurting people throughout Ukraine are receiving Scriptures with great joy and are clinging to the comfort and hope found in your Word. We thank you that those who are receiving Bibles for the first time are accepting Jesus into their hearts and are growing in faith. Amen.
Nehemiah 8:1-18: Ezra reads the Law to the people gathered in Jerusalem.