For Ezra had set his heart to learn the Law of the Lord, to live by it, and to teach His Laws in Israel. –Ezra 7:10 (NLV)
If you think we’re living in evil times, and there’s nothing you can do about it, you can take heart from the example of Ezra in the Bible.
Some 400-plus years before the time of Christ, Ezra was a scribe and priest with religious and political influence. Times had been so bad, the Jews had been expelled from Jerusalem and driven into exile. Imagine a foreign country taking over your hometown and sending you off against your will to a far-away land with unfamiliar language and strange ways.
Still, as proof that God is always at work, the Persian king later decided to let the Jews return to their homeland, and Ezra was one of the three leaders in that movement. While Nehemiah is famous for rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls (for protection), Ezra is known for restoring worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In just one verse, we see the three-pronged strategy Ezra successfully used.
First, he understood that any real change has to begin with you. He knew that ignorance of and ignoring God’s laws had caused Israel to fall in the first place, so he “set his heart to learn the Law of the Lord.” He realized the first person who needed to study and understand the Bible was himself. Also, Ezra’s goal wasn’t a careless wishful thinking. He “set his heart” which means “focused attention.” He began from himself.
Second, he decided to “live by it.” For many people, religion is a matter of collecting mere data or “head knowledge,” but Jesus said “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” (John 14:15 GNT). In other words, the Bible isn’t designed to satisfy idle curiosity or to put on a religious show. It’s to be obeyed and lived out. Ezra knew, if he studied the Bible but didn’t live it, he was wasting his time.
Third, and finally, he was determined to teach the Laws to others. Ezra knew that if he studied the Bible and applied its principles, but if it all stayed with him, his knowledge would die when he died. So, he taught others. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:2 “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others” (NLT).
Was Ezra’s strategy successful? Well, some 2,400 years after he died, right now you’re reading about his approach to life and faith, so what do you think?
If you’re grieved by the darkness we see around us, be encouraged by Ezra’s example. First, set your heart to study God’s word, the Bible. Second, obey and put into practice what you learn. Third, share it and teach others.