I teach a class of 4th to 8th graders, and we recently traveled through the book of Ezra.
Here are some things I thought I knew (but didn’t):
- Ezra was part of the rebuilding of the post-captivity temple. Nope. That happened as much as FIFTY years before Ezra showed up with the contingent of priests and Levites recorded in Ezra chapter eight
- Ezra was a descendant of the high priestly line but he wasn’t a high priest just a regular priest
- Ezra probably didn’t know Nehemiah until they were both in Jerusalem. I had always pictured them traveling together to Jerusalem and working side-by-side. But Ezra isn’t mentioned until AFTER the walls are rebuilt in Nehemiah (Neh. 8:1)
All this reminded me that it’s important to study portions of scripture we assume we know well. Our human minds forget. Or sometimes they make erroneous connections not supported by the Bible.
These questions taunted me long after we finished the tenth chapter of this short, historical account:
- Why did he have to list all the names of the men who messed up?
- What will I be known for when my life is done?
- How can we leave a legacy of righteousness for our families?
- I didn’t think God liked divorce. Why was he okay with all these men divorcing their wives and sending their children away?
- Shouldn’t there have been an opportunity for the foreign women and children to convert to Judaism?
- Is this an example of men doing things rather than God commanding them to do them?
Ezra is a godly man and he obviously fasted and prayed (Ezra 9:3-15) before directing this action from his countrymen.
Please know, I’m not questioning the validity of God’s Word, but in order for me to truly grasp it, I have to ask the hard things. I pray about it. Study other sources. Ask wiser Bible scholars what they believe. Through this process, I hope to eliminate the wrong or shallow beliefs and come to a deeper understanding of the God I serve.
On an unrelated note: several years ago, I wrote a Bible study about the 119th Psalm. (Check it out here.) I was intrigued by the multiple repetitions of words that were synonymous for God’s Word, and yet held distinct meanings that deepened my view on scripture.
As I studied to write the study and devotionals, I came across an article about the suspected authors of this longest Psalm. One of the strongest contenders was Ezra the scribe.
Here are things that make me believe he did author the longest Psalm:
- Ezra helped organize the Old Testament canon (along with Haggai and Zechariah)
- Ezra is noted for being a “ready scribe of the Law of Moses” (Ezra 6:6)
- Ezra “prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD” (Ezra 6:10) while spending his entire life a captive in Babylon/Persia
- He faithfully walked the walk (Ezra 6:10)
- He made teaching the statutes to his countrymen a priority (Ezra 6:10)
- Psalm 119 matches his goals and priorities perfectly
Who has been visiting your Sunday school class lately? What lessons have they taught you?