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We ought to pause over this account, short as it is, of Ezra's character. A scribe was one conversant with the Scriptures; and as Ezra was a ready scribe, and had dedicated himself particularly to this service, no doubt the thing was of the Lord. For as the Holy Ghost hath caused his writings to be so faithfully preserved and handed down to us, and as from their great importance in this part of the church's history they form so interesting a portion of God's sacred word, we cannot be at a loss to discover the work of the blessed Spirit accompanying all his labours with success. Reader! think if Ezra was so earnest in the study of the books of the scripture which were extant in his day, and in which Jesus was so little known, compared to our vast privileges in this gospel day in which we live; how ought we to be alive in searching those precious scriptures, where Jesus forms the sum and substance of every book and chapter! Dear Lord! grant me grace to be unceasingly enquiring after thee in the word of thy truth, that I may be made wise unto salvation through the faith which is in Christ Jesus! It is somewhat remarkable that Ezra should have been left so long in Babylon after the return of the children of the captivity. But it should seem that the Lord had work for him there to do. The obtaining this commission from the king for the great purposes conceived in Ezra's mind, seems to explain the cause of his detention there very fully. From all calculations, however, as the temple was now built, it must have been many years.
The several features in this grant were all in favor of the church. And how strange would it seem did we not look deeper than the surface of the matter, and behold the Lord's hand in the direction, to view an idolatrous heathen giving assistance to the church of Jesus. John saw a wonder in heaven when he saw the earth helping the woman. Revelation 12:16 . And surely it is a wonder which grace only can explain, when men become the unwilling instruments of accomplishing the very reverse of what they intend. Witness the sons of Jacob in their intended ruin of Joseph. And yet infinitely higher and more important, and never to be lost sight of, when the Jews crucified the Lord of life and glory, how little did they consider what blessings they became the instruments to accomplish! I have to call upon the Reader to admire and adore the Lord God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, for the wonderful change which must have been wrought in the minds of Artaxerxes and his princes, to favor the cause of God so very highly. Not only giving Ezra authority to take with him all as many as felt inclined to go up to Jerusalem, but also to grant him money so liberally to do all that was in his heart. And to impose upon all his subjects an obedience to whatever Ezra should demand in favor of the cause he was engaged in. Surely no higher proof can be required that the hearts of all men are at the Lord's disposal, and that like rivers of water he turneth them whithersoever he pleaseth. Proverbs 21:1 .
How beautiful is this ascription of praise in the mouth and heart of Ezra. How lovely is it to see when men have grace to pass by second causes and look wholly at the first. Joseph's history affords a memorable instance of this, when referring the unkind behavior of his brethren unto the kind ordination and predisposing government of the Lord. So now (said he) it was not you that sent me hither, but God. Genesis 45:8 .
How truly lovely doth Ezra the scribe appear in the view here given of him! a scribe indeed well instructed in the law of God. Trained in a foreign land, and under captivity, yet still his attachment to his beloved Jerusalem, and the people of his fathers, and yet above all to the God of his fathers, how near at heart had Ezra an interest in all that concerned the welfare of Zion. Truly might he say, If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning: If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I do not prefer Jerusalem before my chief joy.
But while we pay all due respect to a character of such eminency as Ezra, how is the mind directed in the view of him to the recollection of one, to whom Ezra was but as the faint shadow to the sub stance. Jesus came to his beloved Jerusalem with full commission from the King of kings, even God his father, and had all power given to him in heaven and in earth. And as many as were minded of their own will, when by his grace the Lord had made them willing in the day of his power, the Father gave to be his companions, that Jesus might give eternal life, to as many as the Father had given to him. And the Lord Jesus declared the decree which Jehovah had made for this express purpose. But with what power was Jesus vested; to what extent his commission; to receive all honor, that as the Father was honored, so also should be the Son! All his ministers and servants freed from tribute; for if the Son had made them free, they then are free indeed. And all who refuse to bow the knee to the sovereignty of his grace, must bend before the iron rod of his justice. Hail! thou Almighty Jesus! who camest to us in thy Father's name, and by his authority. All power, grace, and salvation be thine. May every knee bow before thee, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Ezra 7". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany