8x10 Acrylic, Framed
A couple of free hours all to myself and more than likely I will have a good book in hand. I especially enjoy a memoir. Most memoirs begin with the time and place of the author's birth. After all, we tend to think a person's story begins at birth, right? But what if I told you a story that began long before the day he let out his first cry in his mommas arms.
Take a look with me at the life story of Ezra. It’s the fifteenth book in the Old Testament of the Bible. Ezra, being a priest and scribe, was sent by Cyrus King of Persia, also known as King Artaxerxes, to appoint magistrates and judges and to teach the law of Moses. A descendant from Aaron he is what we would call a type of Christ - his teachings pointed forward to the ultimate teacher of God’s people: Jesus Christ.
Ready for this? Ezra isn’t introduced to us until chapter seven. And the reason is this: Long before Ezra was born, God set things in motion, so by the time Ezra steps onto the scene, he's simply carrying out the assignment God gave him.
The message and purpose of Ezra is about spiritual restoration. Restoration of the temple by Israel‘s people after their return from Babylonian captivity as a result of their persistent disobedience and idolatry. God promised them that if they would return to him, he would bring them back to the land he had given to them, Jerusalem. While Moses led the first group it was Ezra who led the second group of exiles back to Israel. Ezra challenged God’s people to get serious with the Lord and they would receive his covenantal blessings.
Ezra and the people fasted and prayed. God listened to their entreaty.
Ezra committed the offering of silver and gold the exiles were carrying into the care of trustworthy priest who would deliver it to the temple. A wise move! Leaders of God’s people must be above reproach and call others to fulfill their own ministerial duties.
Ezra confessed. Ezra himself wasn’t guilty of the peoples sin but he had a right understanding of the corporate aspect of being a part of the people of God. God doesn’t want solo leadership. Our spiritual growth and strength only comes as we serve together.
God’s people confess and a difficult cleansing across the community began. It was a necessary cleansing to maintain purity of the restored Israelite community and to protect further corruption from God’s judgement in the future.
The message of Ezra teaches us that when we depart from God, we lose our fellowship with him. But, when we return fully to him, he restores us to fellowship with him.
Ezra, a shadowing of Christ, came on the scene to teach God’s people the importance of obeying the law of Moses.
Jesus came to fulfill the law.
Ezra set the right prioritization of duties for ministers and leadership: first study God’s Word, then put it into practice personally, and then - only then - teach it to others.
May the grace of God be a banner over all those who teach God’s Word so they can proclaim with the apostle Paul, “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” Col 1:28
1st Photo of art was taken underneath natural light.
2nd Photo of art was taken with lights out underneath a black light to illuminate the white flag of surrender and the cross on the life stand.