Ezra 7:9-10

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 16, 2003

Ezra and the hand of God

Why is Ezra an important individual?

He wasn’t the one who had the Temple rebuilt. That was Zerubbabel. He wasn’t the one who had Jerusalem’s walls rebuilt. That was Nehemiah.

Ezra wasn’t responsible for things made out of stone.

He was a priest, a direct descendent of the line of Aaron. He could have functioned as a high priest. Yet he is known more as a “scribe”, as a teacher of God’s Word.

Ezra is often called the “father of Judaism” and ancient rabbis said that if Moses had not received the law of God, Ezra would have.

Jewish tradition has it that he was the one responsible for pulling together the books of the Old Testament, settling the “canon” of the Old Testament.

He was the author of the books of 1&2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. Some have suggested he may have written Esther as well.

One tradition states that Ezra organized an institution around 450 BC called the Great Synagogue, which consisted of 120 members. Tradition has it that Ezra was president, and Daniel, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Zerubbabel, Mordecai, Jeshua, Nehemiah and others were members. It was established for the purpose of reconstructing the religious life of the returned captives. It is thought to have been a continuing body, governing the returned Jews till about 275 B.C. It is said to have had an important part in gathering, grouping, and restoring the Canonical books of the Old Testament.

He was responsible for the establishment of the synagogues. This was to be a system to help the people learn the Law of Moses in a setting near to their homes on a weekly basis rather than just going to Jerusalem three times a year. This would become the basis for us having church each week.

In the book of Ezra we see Ezra bringing correction to the nation when they had begun to wander from the ways of God. In the book of Nehemiah, we will see him teaching the people, with the first occurrence of the word “pulpit”. We believe this would be a precursor to what we call a “sermon” today.

We actually don’t meet this man named Ezra until Ezra 7 where we see one of the unique characteristics of Ezra’s life.

He was a man who experienced what it meant to have the “hand of the Lord his God upon him”. (Ezra 7:6) What is the “hand of God”?  It is another way of talking about the power of God.  It is how God gets His work done in our lives.

What results from the hand of God?

There are several things through the book of Ezra that Ezra attributes to the “hand of God”. Much of this centers around Ezra’s initial trip from Babylon to Jerusalem.



(Ezra 7:6 KJV) This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.
Ezra accomplished some pretty wonderful things in his lifetime and he saw it all happening because of God’s hand upon him. It was God’s power at work in and around Ezra that brought him success.



These verses come after the pagan king Artaxerxes has written a letter giving Ezra permission to go back to Jerusalem and giving him all sorts of authority and help for the work of rebuilding the nation.
(Ezra 7:27-28 KJV) Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem: {28} And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king's mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.
strengthenedchazaq – to prevail, harden, be strong, be courageous, be resolute
Ezra saw his own strength coming from God’s hand.



Before Ezra actually made his trip to Jerusalem, he realized he had a problem.
(Ezra 8:15; 17-18 KJV) And I gathered them together to the river that runneth to Ahava; and there abode we in tents three days: and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi.
Ezra’s desire was to bring spiritual revival to the people. His aim is to build up the spiritual part of the nation, but he’s short a few guys.  He sends word to some leaders to send him some helpers.
{17} …that they should bring unto us ministers for the house of our God. {18} And by the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of understanding, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah …
Ezra saw that because God’s hand was upon his group, these leaders responded in sending just the right guys for the problem.



Ezra was afraid of what might happen on the way to Jerusalem.  It was a dangerous trip full of thieves and robbers.  And to make things worse, they’d be carrying millions of dollars worth of treasures with them.  How would they keep safe?  First they fasted and prayed …
(Ezra 8:31 KJV) Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way.
Sometimes life can be pretty scary.  We need God’s touch.
A cold March wind danced around the dead of night in Dallas as the doctor walked into the small hospital room of Diana Blessing. Still groggy from surgery, her husband David held her hand as they braced themselves for the latest news. That afternoon of March 10, 1991, complications had forced Diana, only 24-weeks pregnant, to undergo an emergency cesarean to deliver the couple’s new daughter, Danae Lu Blessing. At 12 inches long and weighing only one pound and nine ounces, they already knew she was perilously premature. Still, the doctor’s soft words dropped like bombs. “I don’t think she’s going to make it,” he said, as kindly as he could. “There’s only a 10-percent chance she will live through the night, and even then, if by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one.” Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Danae would likely face if she survived. She would never walk; she would never talk; she would probably be blind; she would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation; and on and on. “No! No!” was all Diana could say. She and David, with their 5-year-old son Dustin, had long dreamed of the day they would have a daughter to become a family of four. Now, within a matter of hours, that dream was slipping away. Through the dark hours of morning as Danae held onto life by the thinnest thread, Diana slipped in and out of drugged sleep, growing more and more determined that their tiny daughter would live - and live to be a healthy, happy young girl. But David, fully awake and listening to additional dire details of their daughter’s chances of ever leaving the hospital alive, much less healthy, knew he must confront his wife with the inevitable. “David walked in and said that we needed to talk about making funeral arrangements,” Diana remembers “I felt so bad for him because he was doing everything, trying to include me in what was going on, but I just wouldn’t listen, I couldn’t listen. I said, “No, that is not going to happen, no way! I don’t care what the doctors say Danae is not going to die! One day she will be just fine, and she will be coming home with us!” As if willed to live by Diana’s faith, Danae clung to life hour after hour, with the help of every medical machine and marvel her miniature body could endure. But as those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana. Because Danae’s underdeveloped nervous system was essentially “raw,” the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort - so they couldn’t even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength of their love. All they could do, as Danae struggled alone beneath the ultraviolet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl. There was never a moment when Danae suddenly grew stronger. But as the weeks went by, she did slowly gain an ounce of weight here and an ounce of strength there. At last, when Danae turned two months old, her parents were able to hold her in their arms for the very first time. And two months later - though doctors continued to gently but grimly warn that her chances of surviving, much less living any kind of normal life, were next to zero - Danae went home from the hospital, just as her mother had predicted. Today, five years later, Danae is a petite but feisty young girl with glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for life. She shows no signs, whatsoever, of any mental or physical impairments. Simply, she is everything a little girl can be and more - but that happy ending is far from the end of her story. One blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996 near her home in Irving, Texas, Danae was sitting in her mother’s lap in the bleachers of a local ball park where her brother Dustin’s baseball team was practicing. As always, Danae was chattering nonstop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby when she suddenly fell silent. Hugging her arms across her chest, Danae asked, “Do you smell that?” Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied, “Yes, it smells like rain.” Danae closed her eyes and again asked, “Do you smell that?” Once again, her mother replied, “Yes, I think we’re about to get wet, it smells like rain.” Still caught in the moment, Danae shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, “No, it smells like Him. It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest.” Tears blurred Diana’s eyes as Danae then happily hopped down to play with the other children. Before the rains came, her daughter’s words confirmed what Diana and all the members of the extended Blessing family had known, at least in their hearts, all along. During those long days and nights of her first two months of her life, when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Danae on His chest - and it is His loving scent that she remembers so well.
~ Author Unknown

We need God’s touch.  We need His good hand upon us.

What moves the hand of God?

The interesting thing about the hand of God being on Ezra was that Ezra didn’t just think this was some sovereign move of God of which he had no part in.  He realized that there were certain things that move God’s hand.

(Ezra 7:9-10 KJV) For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. {10} For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.


A prepared heart

(Ezra 7:10 KJV) For Ezra had prepared his heart …
preparedkuwn – (Hiphil) to establish, set up, accomplish, do, make firm; to fix, make ready, prepare, provide, to direct toward (moral sense); to arrange, order
heartlebab – inner man, mind, will, heart, soul, understanding
(Ezra 7:10 NASB)  For Ezra had set his heart to study …
(Ezra 7:10 NLT)  This was because Ezra had determined to study …
(Ezra 7:10 NIV)  For Ezra had devoted himself to the study …
It all starts with your heart.  If you don’t want God to work in your life, He won’t.  I believe that if you want God to work in your life, you’ll consider getting serious about the next four things.  Do you want Him to move in your life?


Seeking God’s Word

(Ezra 7:10 KJV) …Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD
to seekdarash – seek with care, enquire; study, follow, seek with application
the lawtowrah –This is the Hebrew word Torah, God’s Word.
He wanted to know God’s Word. God’s hand, His power, is tied very closely with His Word.
Compare these two passages:
(Eph 5:18-20 KJV)  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

The focus of the passage is the command to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to let Him empower you.  What follows are the results of being filled with the Spirit:

{19} Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; {20} Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

The passage goes on to teach about how the empowering of the Spirit affects our various relationships in marriage, as parents, and as employees.

(Col 3:16-17 KJV)  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. {17} And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

As you study this passage, you’ll notice that it’s laid out exactly the same as Ephesians 5.  The same things are listed as results, but not of the filling of the Holy Spirit.  They are results of God’s Word being in your heart.

God’s hand is connected to His Word.  You and I need to spend time daily in God’s Word.


Obeying God’s Word

(Ezra 7:10 KJV) …Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it
to do it ‘asah – to do, fashion, accomplish, make
Ezra knew enough that it wasn’t enough just to know God’s Word.  He had to live it as well.
James wrote,
(James 1:22 KJV)  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

If we think it’s just enough to read or learn about God’s Word, yet we don’t let it affect our behavior, we are fooling ourselves.

We need to learn to obey what God says.


Sharing God’s Word

(Ezra 7:10 KJV) …and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
to teachlamad – to learn. teach, exercise in
statuteschoq – statute, ordinance, limit, something prescribed, due
judgmentsmishpat – judgment, justice, ordinance
Ezra’s relationship with the Word wasn’t just about living a better life for himself.  He knew He needed to share God’s Word with other people.
We have a message to share.  God loved this world so much that He gave His only begotten Son for us.  We have been washed from our sins by the blood of Jesus.  God wants to work in people’s lives.  We need to share.

(Ezra 8:21-23 KJV) Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. {22} For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. {23} So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was entreated of us.

Ezra had sort of put himself on the spot with the king. He had been boasting about how God would protect His people, and then felt like he couldn’t go and ask the king for a military escort for the dangerous trip carrying millions of dollars worth of treasures from Babylon to Jerusalem. He knew he needed God’s hand of protection.  What did he do?  He fasted and prayed.

(Ezra 8:31 KJV) Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way.


Fasting and prayer

God’s hand is moved when His people pray.
God’s hand is moved when His people fast.
If you have some things that are pretty serious in your life, then you ought to be praying seriously about them.  One way we can “pray seriously” is by learning to fast and pray.
Fasting is not about twisting God’s arm, it’s about refining the person that prays.  When you fast you will most likely find out just how strong your flesh nature is, because it won’t like fasting.  The value in fasting comes when we learn to say “no” to the flesh for a period of time and replace the feeding of the flesh with spiritual things, like praying and reading God’s Word.  Each time you feel those hunger pangs, pray for the thing you are seriously praying about.
I think there are some things we ought to be seriously praying for.
We need to be praying for our country and our president.
Our church is in one of those situations that could get scary.  We have just confirmed this week with our landlords that we will need to plan on being out of our building by the end of our lease.  That’s 21 months from now.  That’s not necessarily a long time.
Do you have a need for God’s hand to be moving in your life?
We need to pray.  I’d like to challenge some of you to consider fasting as well, even if you just give up one meal per week.  Seek God’s hand.
“The Touch of the Master’s Hand” By: Myra Brooks Welch
Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile.
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who will start bidding for me?
A dollar, a dollar”—then, “Two!” “Only two?
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
Three dollars, twice;
“Going for three—“ But no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings.
He played a melody pure and sweet
As sweet as a caroling angel sings.
The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said what am I bidden for the old violin?
And he held it up with the bow.
A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
Three thousand, once; three thousand twice;
And going, and gone!” said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand
What changed its worth?” Swift came the reply:
“The touch of the master’s hand.”
And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scattered with sin,
Is auctioned off cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine;
A game—and he travels on.
He’s “going” once, and “going” twice,
He’s “going” and “almost gone.”
But the Master comes and the foolish crowd
Never quite understands
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.