Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel (Ezra 7:10 NASB).
There are many responsibilities on a pastor’s job description. But there is one that stands above all the rest: He is a student and communicator of God’s Word to the people.
Setting Your Heart
Ezra’s determination in this arena was so strong that God described it like this: “Ezra had set his heart.”
The Bible would later describe Jesus as one who “set [His] face like flint” to go to Jerusalem (Isaiah 50:7), even though He knew the cost. Ezra had made a similar determination.
Any pastor worth his salt is a man who perseveres. Jesus called those who run away at the first site of conflict “hired hands” who are not in it for the long haul (John 10:12).
Ezra was carried by a lifelong passion to seek God through His Word. And the payoff for him, his people, and the kingdom was monumental.
. . . On the Right Things
Many people have set their heart on something. Some have a huge desire for self-comfort or self-glory or self-promotion. They are determined to be known and loved. Power, pleasure, and money are common goals.
But Ezra set his heart on three eternally profitable goals: to study the Word, to do what he would find God telling him to do in the Word, and then to help others do the same. This triad passion would serve him well for a lifetime.
. . . To Be Usable to the King
Ezra was grateful for the favor of an earthly king. It allowed him to return to his land and people after years in Babylonian captivity.
This was made possible, though, by the unseen, sovereign hand of the great King he served. “He came to Jerusalem, because the good hand of his God was upon him” (Ezra 7:9). Ezra’s determined desire was to know and serve this King.
He was used in the lives of the people when he returned to Jerusalem. But his most memorable season came when his friend, Nehemiah, returned and built the wall around Jerusalem in 52 days. At the end of this work, Ezra was called, and he was ready.
Nehemiah 8 records that they made him a wooden podium and stood him in front of all the people, who had “gathered as one man” (v. 1).
“He read from [the Scriptures] before the square … until midday … and all the people were attentive to the book of the law” (v. 3). Ezra and the other priests read the Bible to the people and then applied it, “translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading” (v. 8).
The end result of this preaching was one of the greatest national moments of confession, revival, repentance, and restoration in human history. The entire nation came back to God.
When the time came, Ezra was ready. Why? For years he had set his heart to study, obey, and teach the Word.
Who knows the days of usefulness God may give to any of us? But only the prepared are used as Ezra was.