Ezra Explained

Published on
December 5, 2023




The book of Ezra episode. Bodie and Joey unpack the essential details of Ezra, where it falls on the storyline, the structure of the book, major themes and ideas, what Ezra teaches us about God, what it offers our Christian lives, and a couple of our favorite details to equip and inspire you to read, study, and love this historical book which covers Judah's return back to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple.



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And the cause of rejoicing in people is the Lord. It's the Lord. So many times, we get caught up in finding our fulfillment in other things, temporal things, fleeting pleasures of sin and pleasure that is going to leave us only empty, guilty, and shameful. True revival brings us into an arrival where we're at the throne of God, obtaining mercy and finding grace to help us in our time of need, and we are desperate, dependent, and then devoted to serving God, from that point forward, that's revival.

Well, hello and welcome to the You Can Learn the Bible podcast, where we summarize complete Bible books in single episodes. My name is Bode Quirk from YouCanLearntheBible.com here with Joey Rozek, Lead Pastor of Living Springs Fellowship in New Jersey. Joey, it's after Thanksgiving. It's probably super cold over there on the East Coast, I don't know what cold is on the West coast, but how are you doing today, my friend? I've missed you. I'm so excited to be here with you today. How you doing?

Yes. My dear brother Bodie. It is cold. So to answer the first question, it is actually quite cold. We had below freezing the last couple of


Um, but that's a nice time to put the fire in the fireplace, get warmed, and, I was down in, visiting family down in North Carolina, for my Thanksgiving week. So it was great to see my loved ones there and, I am equally excited about entering into this book of Ezra because I was saying to you even before we, we just got on here, I love focuses on the house of God. When we see Bible, putting our attention on the temple or the house of God, there's some valuable lessons because the Bible tells us we are the temple of God today, where the house of God.

And there's so many principles that we learn through these times of rebuilding and restoration and a remnant working together.

So good. Yeah.

yeah, brother.

Are you ready? I'm excited. Yeah.

Episode 21 is where we are today. Ezra explained. So if you've been keeping track with us, we are explaining full Bible books in single episodes.

We use this framework that we really feel like is the most helpful way we can prepare you to read the book. This is not to substitute your reading of the book, but we want you to know. And we're going to talk about some of the essentials, right, Joey? Like, just the basics about the book. Where it falls on the storyline. What are the major themes and ideas? Just some of the basic structure. We also do that, though, because we really want to learn, what can we learn about God from each and every book, and we want to do that for the book of Ezra today.

Also, we always want to apply this to our lives. So, what can we apply to our Christian life today? And some of our favorite things. These are what make up our seven part framework. And we've been going through these historical books, Joey, and we're entering a really important It's the final season of Israel's history that people I think may or may not be quite as familiar with and they may not be able to understand the ramifications and the beauty of all that God is doing in this particular time that we're going to look at today.

So just a couple of reminders. you can watch this on YouTube because if you'd like to see the, the visuals and the slides that we use, We're going to reference the timeline a little bit in this episode. So if you want to see that that's available on YouTube, the audio is available on Apple podcasts and Spotify, and if you'd like a one page PDF summary of all the key highlights and ideas and takeaways that we're going to give you in this episode, we'll give you a link for that at the end of the episode. But I would love for Joey to just get right in to this question one.

This is number one, the Essentials. So we're kind of wanting to set people up for success right at the beginning. Joey, what do people need to know if they want to read the book of Ezra if they may not be familiar with it?

Yes. Well, I think that the first thing you need to know when you hear the book of Ezra is you got to get right into the context of where this fits in, in the Bible.

We finished Chronicles and we went through the history of the Kings and we're in a time period where we're toward the end of that period where we're seeing that God had to judge Judah because of their idolatry, and we talked about how many Kings remember had turned their hearts away from God. And so what you have now is Ezra is a book characterized by the name of the person who is a part of the return back to Jerusalem to rebuild and restore the temple there.

And so, what we're looking at as far as, as a date period, we're covering between 539 and 450 BC. This is the dawn of the Persian empire. So, rather than Israel having so much control and power, they're actually now they were enslaved, they were taken captive. The Persian empire is ruling.

There's a King named Cyrus. Who plays a very prominent role in the book of Ezra, which we'll get to, but this is a historical piece of literature in the Bible. It focuses on the restoring of Jerusalem's glory. We don't know if Ezra himself actually wrote the book with his name. It could have been Nehemiah, but he certainly was one of the last of the scribes mentioned.and it's good possibility that he collected the writings together and put it into this book, if he didn't write it all himself.

The setting takes place in the post exile after they've been taken captive in Babylon, you may remember. Now the captives are returning. purpose of this book is to once again show God's faithfulness.

He keeps his promises. He is committed to Jerusalem. The city of the great King and to the people of Judah and to holiness coming back to the people. So we're going to see a lot of that as the theme and the temple being restored, and of course, this is for the people of Judah initially, because they were the ones in whom directly would receive this word, but this is always for God's true remnant, anybody who's saying, I want to be a part of what God is doing to restore his work on the earth, this is a great book to dive into.

Yep. I love that because this is our family story, isn't it? For us who are in Christ, right?

And so, this takes us to number two of our framework because it really feels like the time period and the location in the storyline historically is maybe a little bit more important in this book than it is in maybe some of the other books, especially some of the wisdom literature, cause if you don't understand what's happening in the background and where we're at in the story, this book is not going to make sense. So we really want to make sure that the kind of the essentials one and two almost go together. Cause what we're talking about is Joey already started are Judah's exiles returning back to Jerusalem.

Okay, so again, Persia has overthrown Babylon and it's amazing is now this Babylonian empire is now done and the Persian empire, especially with King Cyrus that Joey already mentioned, he is completely in support of these captives returning back to their home. That's kind of what a lot of this book is about.

We got to remember that. 70 years of exile and judgment are now past and are now complete. Remember, God exiled them out of the land as a judgment. Well, that time is over. They get to go back. God uses Persia to do that. So Persia and Cyrus, his decrees and his support really are what make Judah's return back to Jerusalem possible, and that's really the moment that we find ourselves when we begin the book of Ezra on the biblical storyline. Joey, anything you want to add before you go into the themes? Yes.

Well, I'll just throw this little nugget out there is that Cyrus was spoken of 160 years earlier by the prophet Isaiah, who in chapters 44 and 45 of this book speaks about this King before we actually see what is taking place. In this book. So that is incredible to think about. And this is just shows you how God is always ahead of the game, knowing what he's doing and that the Bible is so authoritative that it can tell us future history before it

Yeah. It's amazing. Yeah. Cyrus's name appears. Yeah. Way, way, way before he's ever born too. It's just crazy. Yeah.

amazing. Yeah. We're talking about before a man was born.

Right. It's awesome. I love it. And one thing too, I forgot to mention that, we've kind of. treated these previous historical books, Kings, Chronicles, as one and two, and actually, originally Ezra and Nehemiah were one book. People don't often know that. And so we are again, reading part one of a two part set as we study the book of Ezra, and next episode on Nehemiah will be part two of that.

But I want, Joey, if you would, we kind of know where the book falls on the storyline, some of the basics, but we really want to start talking about what it offers us, and that's where I think these themes are going to be crucial for our understanding of the book. Would you walk us through some of these essential themes and ideas for the book of Ezra?

Yes. Well, so as we dive into this book, we're going to see that God is overseeing everything.

So we don't want to miss God's sovereignty. We often mention God's sovereignty because he's always in control, but you really get to emphasize it when you're in times where it seems like things are out of control or God's people are in exile.

So that's really important. Obviously the whole book is about the return back to Jerusalem, back to home where they reclaim the promises. In fact, Jerusalem's mentioned 47 times. In this one short book alone, so that's interesting. Worship is restored when the temple is rebuilt, and so you've got the holiness of God's people, dealing with the holy temple.

And then you have the opposition that comes because as God begins to do his works, we always see the enemy coming against it. There's foreigners that are surrounding Judah and they seem to be resisting this work that's happening. In fact, we are living in a present age where, the Israel of today in modern times is still going through attacks from foreigners or at least conflicts, and there is a lot of this continued cycle that we see from all the way back in this time period until today.

And then we have the crisis of pagan intermarriage. This is a, one of the things that was constantly a warning from God is that if you start to intermingle with these groups that don't fear the Lord, you're going to see your hearts turning away, and of course this happened in this book. And so you have Ezra coming back. When he returns and leads a remnant back, his leadership and his influence are going to be a really key theme in the second half of this book, particularly.

And then we have the power of confession and repentance and how we all as believers today need to bring to the light, the things that we've done in darkness, or that has been displeasing to the Lord.

We also see the rebirth of Passover, the Jewish feasts, and national hope revived, and so these are some of the key, key themes and ideas that we'll be exploring as we look through these 10 chapters,

Yeah. This isn't a long book, right? It's, it's interesting. Sometimes these episodes, Joey, we got to summarize 60 chapters in the book, like of Genesis. Sometimes we get shorter books, right? But what ultimately what we're hoping to do is help you out is to help you see things that you may not necessarily notice, and that's why we want to go in now into the structure of the book.

And so this is a little bit of a shorter book, but there are some sections. I think that you, as our, as our listeners can benefit by knowing kind of where, what they are, what each structure offers, and then kind of where the breaks are.

But what we want to do is we want to introduce you to the structure of the book. We want to keep the themes that Joey just walked us through in mind, but then really, we then want to ask, a couple key questions from our framework. So, structure is number four, five, and six are what does this book, Ezra, teach us about God?

That's going to be crucial. And what does it offer our Christian life? And again, I love this question, Joey, because I feel like so many times people think that some of these Old Testament historical books don't really have much to offer. And we are hoping to prove you wrong by showing some of the beautiful things that we see in this book, if that's your view, and people just, maybe they just are unfamiliar with the book. So. I'm excited to get into it.

Let's talk about how the book's broken down. There's two major sections. Sometimes books have three or four sections. This only has two. Okay. Chapters one through six is the first section. This is all about the exiles return and the temple rebuilt. So what's happening here is the things that Joey already talked about. That's where we start to read. So Cyrus of Persia, God literally uses this. Persian king to support and to free the captives out of Babylonia, which is no longer Babylon, because now it's controlled by Persia, to go home. And he not only frees them, but he supports them with all the resources they could want to return to Judah, return to their homeland and to rebuild their temple, because the temple, Joey, as we're going to see in this book, is absolutely crucial for their national identity and for their survival as God's covenant people.

So that's. Section one, chapters one through six, the exiles return and the temple rebuilt. The second section is chapter seven through 10. And this is where Ezra shows up. So this is Ezra's return and the people's reforms, and Ezra, Joey is a powerhouse. I can't wait to start to talk about him. Who is he?

He's a priest and he's a scribe of the law. He returns to Judah and he. He is a leader. He leads the nation in national repentance and restoration. He is one of the most godly, powerful men we ever encounter in scripture. And I cannot wait to get to section two to start to talk about him. So anything, Joe, you want to say on the larger section?

And then I'd love to have you talk us into kind of some of the subsections of our first section, chapters one through six.

Well, yes, what I would say about this book as a whole, that some of our listeners may not know is, it was written in Aramaic almost

Hmm. Interesting.

is the nuanced language of the Hebrew during the time period that came up after this influence of being away in, in these other cultures in Babylon and so forth. So. When Ezra comes back, the reason why I think Bodie, we see him as a godly character is because the power is never in the man, right? The power is in the God and the word. And what we see is that when a person submits, when a person surrenders, when a person aligns their will with God's will, they become a powerful instrument in the hand of a powerful God because we get out of the way.

And what we're going to see is the need to clear the clutter, get rid of the waste, the things that are holding back. God's blessings, God's truth from coming forth and his building project, his purpose of seeing the temple restored. So this is really key that you understand these two sections, the exiles returning, with the temple being rebuilt, and then of course the people getting reformed as well. So, and of course in the new Testament, the temple and the people are one in the same. So this is actually quite

they're all throughout scripture. That's what I love about it. Yeah, that's awesome. So Joey, let us talk us through some of these parts of how the book begins.

Okay. We have part one, the exiles return and the temple rebuilt. What are some of these key parts within these first six chapters?

So as we break this down, we see that chapter one is, is very specific to set the stage. The Holy Spirit stirred King Cyrus. And so he gives an edict and all of a sudden he's declaring that the Jews are free to return to Judah and they can actually take back the treasure that, remember when Babylon came and stole all the treasure, Cyrus is saying, go bring it back.

So chapter one is all about this. Chapter two is not going to be one of your more exciting chapters to go through because it's a list of names. It's a list of the exiles that are returning the remnant. But again. important to show us the historical accuracy and authenticity of the people involved in the events of this book, and this includes priests, Levites and servants, in chapter two.

Chapters three and four together is about the restoration of this temple initiated, and then of course, the opposition, the opposition that comes against it from adversaries near the land that are convincing Artaxerxes to halt this work, to stop it, and cease the temple being built.

When you get to chapters 5 and 6, the last part of this first half, the restoration continues, and it continues because of the prophetic words that are being spoken, and the leadership that is being exemplified through men like Zerubbabel, Haggai, Zechariah, they appeal to Darius, they lead in the restoration, completion, dedication, and even restore the feast of Passover.

And so these are really important chapters. When you read this on your own, understand that the focus is when you look at the first half of this book is look at how interested God is in the details on making sure that nothing gets missed, that God is wanting to bring back what was taken away. He's a restorer of the streets to dwell in, and it's just amazing what God does in his faithfulness.

I liked how you mentioned the details because even at the beginning of this section, it's not 71 years. It's not 69 years. It's the exact time, 70 years, that the Prophet Jeremiah prophesied that Judah would be out of their land. And so even at the very onset of this, we see God's continued covenant faithfulness at work because God doesn't want to punish them any more than they deserve.

He punished them exactly what he said, and now he is using, this foreign King, this Cyrus, who seems to be the biggest fan of Judah. He not only, Joey, lets them leave, but he's like, how can I finance, how can I support you? I'm going to give you all of these resources to take back. And I just love like the, all of the things from the temple.

Remember you, you had mentioned Joey previously that Hezekiah was the one who made the mistake to kind of display the treasures of the temple. Later they got taken, but notice God preserved them. They could have been gone, they could have been resold, but they wouldn't, God preserved them because God does care about the details because he cares about his house and he cares about worship.

Ultimately, because that is what is best for his people. When his people are in submitted worship, God is glorified and people are living the lives that he created us to see. And so the details that you mentioned, I think are so great. Jump in, anything you like from this first section? I

I just want to, I want to pick up right where you just said about God is interested in worship and he's glorified when his people are satisfied in him, when they're actually obeying him. Well, in fact, a great verse, I would put this first right. At the beginning of chapter three, as a way of almost giving us an understanding of what's happening is Psalm 50 in Psalm 50 verse 23, it says, whoever offers praise glorifies me, God says, and to him, who orders his conduct aright, I will show the salvation of God.

What you see in chapter three is the beginning of God being glorified through worship going upward toward him and people aligning their will with him and ordering their conduct to right so that they fulfill the purpose of God, and I think that's just such a great verse to put in there.

We all need true worship and purposeful obedience if we're going to glorify God. And, uh, in fact, one of the key verses in this opening section, is found in Ezra chapter one, verse three, why don't you read that, Bodie?

Well, right at the beginning, I love this where it says, whoever is among you of his people, may his God be with him and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel. He is the God who is in Jerusalem.

And Joey, this verse, this right at the beginning is a key verse for this first part, because everything in the story has been leading to this moment. God has not forsaken, they could have been exiled out of their land and never returned. That would have been what probably would have been the more likely outcome, but not when God's promises are at play. God promised to keep them.

He preserved them in exile and he is now bringing them back. And so when we read Ezra, the beginning, I don't think we understand the gravity of what is happening. This is a momentous occasion in the history of God's covenant people. And it speaks so highly that God is a God who keeps his promises to, to them and to us. So good. Right.

which is one of the song of ascents, it talks about how Jerusalem is like a city that is compact together. And what you really see in the unfolding of this restoration is that in chapter three again, it actually says that people are gathered together, compact together as one man.

They're actually united together for a purpose, and they're beginning this work of God. And I love how they also, when they are praising God, Bodie, and they're worshiping him there. I love how in, in verse 11 of chapter three, it says, and they sang responsibly. I love that phrase to sing responsibly.

Everything in the Christian life is actually a response to God and what he initiates. So they sang responsibly. They praised and gave thanks to the Lord. They said this for, he is good. For His mercy endures forever toward Israel and all the people shouted with a great shout when they praise the Lord because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.

And listen, anytime a believer or a church starts to get their foundation right and they get themselves in a surrendered place with God, this is a cause for great praise and great worship. In fact, the Bible says that all of heaven rejoices when even one sinner repents, right? And so, this is a beautiful reminder to us of what pleases the Lord.

I'd like to say this before we leave this section, you know, when you get to chapter four, Bodie, this whole three and four part where there's, the temple's being built, but there's an opposition, we realized that from the very beginning, when God put Adam and Eve on this earth, opposition came, right?

Satan came with a different voice to try to bring Adam and Eve under a different authority. And so much of opposition has to do with what is the authority behind the voice that's being spoken. Well, in chapter four, we see that the resistance is coming from the surrounding parts, and in actuality, what's interesting is as I look at this chapter, they actually hired people. They hired counselors. In verse five to actually frustrate their purpose.

You know, sometimes the world goes to great lengths to trip up God's people They try to rally persuasion people are marching in the streets today with their messages well in these days, to send a letter to a king and to try to get the king to stop this work you can see, there is so much at play here, there's political pieces, there's spiritual pieces, there's opposition on all fronts, but the Bible says in Ephesians chapter six, verse 12, we are never just wrestling against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this age and against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

So when, they write this letter to King Artaxerxes, they're trying to get him to see if, he will put a stop to this work, and, what's interesting is that everything gets confirmed that there was permission, that Cyrus did this and everything gets confirmed that these people, had the right to do what they were doing.

And we see that, chapter five comes in and they go right back to work. They got past this obstacle of opposition and we need to do the same in our lives, don't we, Bodie?

Yeah. Well, and I love Joey. Yes, I love this because what we see is we see a work of God and we see the opposition, but what I love in, in three and four is even before they build the. the foundation for this temple, they build an altar. They start with worship, right? Wouldn't it be so great if us, if today, when we always, to come back to the Lord, we started with worship rather than starting with all the other external things.

We get our heart right with God first, and we see that, and we also see this interesting that the previous generation who remembered, remember, this is called the second temple period. The first temple was destroyed, but there were people who remembered it. And they even, they both rejoiced, but they also lamented at, this new, this, what's called a second temple, because it reminded them of what they lost. And it also reminded them of just the exile and just the sorrow and the heartbreak of the sin upon the people. And so we see, even though the second temple is being rebuilt and sacrifice and the whole sacrificial system is being restored, the legacy of sin is still there, isn't it, Joey?

But one of the great things about this section in five and six is the presence of the prophets. And what's cool is that after we finish these historical books, we are then later going to go into the prophetic books. And we're going to look at each one and how the role they played, but we're not quite there yet, but what we do see at the end of the temple isn't just rebuilt.

It is functioning and we see the Passover celebration has been reinstituted. So by the end of this first section, we have the temple is back. I mean, there was opposition, there was challenge, but God has been faithful and the people have, have reinstituted Judaism in the very place that God promised in the city of Jerusalem, so

really good. Yeah. I think for our listeners, it's important that, you know, historically there were three different phases of return, and we're going to hit this in just a moment here of how God sent people back to Jerusalem,

during this period of time you had in 538, this issue of decree by Cyrus, but it was Ezra in 458, where he's coming back And he's doing this return, uh, with the remnant that he brought.

And then we see Nehemiah in 445 or so, he does the same thing. But one of the things I want you to know, and I'm so glad you brought up the prophets, Bodhi, is that while these remnants are returning back, God is also bringing prophetic


And in chapter five, verse one, when it says the prophet Haggai and Zechariah, if you read that little book of Haggai, it's only three chapters. It covers what takes place in chapter five. It basically, he's got a four month ministry of encouragement where he starts off with a strong word, like, are you guys getting all focused on your paneled houses, but the temples and ruins come on guys. Get your eyes back on what's eternal and what matters to God, not just to yourself personally.

And we need prophetic voices to bolster our spiritual focus and our attention to what really matters. And that's what God was raising up during those times. And so it's a beautiful picture of God bringing back waves of remnants, but prophetic voices in the

I love it. Yep. Yeah. And we can see too that there was a big gap between the end of part one of the book of Ezra and now where we're going in part two, right? So if we look at this timeline, we see that as you already walked us through, Joey, there was the original edict to return. There was the period of the time where the second temple was constructed.

But then once you get to chapter seven, which is the beginning of our next section, 60 years have passed. And you don't get the sense of you just kind of read it from chapter six, right onto chapter seven, there is a long period of time that has happened here. And so now we're into part two of the book.

So part one was chapters one through six. We've covered that the exiles have returned. There was opposition, but the temple has been rebuilt and restarted. Now we're in a new season. Aren't we, Joe? seven through 10. , now the focus shifts to Ezra, his return and all of the incredible influence that he has inside Judah, as we now look at these final four chapters of the book.

So here's kind of a flyover of the second part of this book, right? In chapter seven, you have Ezra's return and his commission, He is, he's a scribe. He's, he again is commissioned by Persia to return to Judah and to institute reforms.

Chapters, eight is again, are those exiles, the second wave, the second remnant who then come with Ezra. Again, we're 60 years later than the first group, but then nine and 10, Joey, I think are the most beautiful. And this is where I think that we would really want to make sure we, our readers want to really read through.

In chapter nine. Ezra repents over the land of Judah for their wickedness, specifically their intermarriage with foreigners, which resulted in idolatry. Ezra is taking the role of a priest here. He's praying and repenting on behalf of his people. And then we see the beautiful response in chapter 10 where the people follow suit and they respond to their leader, and they, then repent and abolish the intermarriage that was plaguing the people and that was part of the sin of this last 60 years.

So a lot's going on in this second section. That's kind of the flyover. What do you think is most important for our listeners on this second part, part two, Ezra's return in the nation's reforms?

You know, I think that when we look at the second half of this book, we realize that sometimes you can have everything in place in your life. You can be at the right place at the right time. You can be doing the right thing, but God always looks at the heart. And this whole second half is what needs to be reformed in the heart of man.

So we go from the rebuilding of the temple as a structure, to the rebuilding of the hearts as a place of intimate connection with God, and I believe that is really where God is always wanting us to get back to, and in order to get there, you say, well, how do you get there? Well, Jesus prayed in John 17, 17 in the new covenant. He says, sanctify them father by your truth, your word is truth.

And one of the things that brings us back to a right place with God is hearing the Word of God.

So in chapter 7 verse 10, it says, Ezra had prepared his heart. He prepared his heart. It says that he had set his heart, right? To study the law of the Lord and to do it and to teach his statutes and his rules to Israel. I've always loved this passage, Bodie, because, in this one verse, You see three really key steps. Number one, deal with your heart, set your heart purpose in your heart. Daniel did this while he was a captive in Babylon. Then we see do his word. We've got to do the word of God. Now you can't do what you don't know.

So you've got to hear the

Mm hmm.

then you've got to be doers of the word. And then the third part is delivered to others. You know, we don't just keep it for ourself. Ezra was sent to teach these things to the people. And so you've it's like from our heart, we do our part and then we impart, we impart, we impart to others.

And I think that's such a beautiful picture of what God is wanting us to do. Freely we receive, now freely we give. And if we get our heart aligned, we can help to line up others as well. So I think that is a key piece to describe this

I love it, too. And you know, one of the things I love about prayers that we see in the Bible, Joey, and we're going to see one here in a second in Ezra chapter nine, is that so often the prayers we see in the Bible, I think about Hannah, I think about Nehemiah later in the covenant renewal, there's always a historical context on which the lament is placed, right?

It's never just an individual. It's the people, and the It's a full story. And I think in America today, we kind of think of ourselves as just kind of us and God, and we kind of don't think of ourselves in light of that we're part of this larger story too. That's why we're reading this book, right?

This is our covenant heritage as well.

And so I would love it if you would read through this part, this Ezra, these two verses from Ezra chapter nine, because friends, nine and 10, you have to read them. But Joey, I would love for you to focus on , these two verses. This is verses eight and nine that come from Ezra nine.

Yeah. This whole chapter is basically a prayer for those listening. Um, Daniel nine, Ezra nine, Nehemiah nine. Remember those three nines? They're all prayers that are about national repentance. And so here's, a piece from this one, Ezra nine versus eight and nine. But now for a brief moment, favor has been shown by the Lord, our God to leave us a remnant.

And to give us a secure hold within his holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our slavery, for we are slaves, yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God to repair its ruins and to give us protection In Judea and Jerusalem, and you really get a piece here in this one section of the prayer that God is opening a window of heaven here.

Mercy is been shown by God. He is saying, will you join with me in this work? And really what you're seeing is that they had a spiritual revival. I mean, this is the word revival shows up here in a way that. This is what revival looks like. It has to do with repentance is taking place. Realignment with God's heart is happening.

And the cause of rejoicing in people is the Lord. It's the Lord. You know, so many times, Bodie, we get caught up in finding our fulfillment in other things, temporal things, fleeting pleasures of sin and pleasure that is going to leave us only empty, guilty, and shameful. But when revival is happening, it's almost like we've come to an arrival at the throne room of God.

A true revival brings us into an arrival where we're at the throne of God, obtaining mercy and finding grace to help us in our time of need. And we are desperate, dependent, and then devoted to serving God, from that point forward, that's revival.

Oh, Joey, because that is what makes us alive, is being alive in Christ, right? Now here, it's funny, the same heart applies at this point in the timeline that they are at, in the Persian empire during the second temple period, as it does for us today, because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

And one of the great things we can learn from the leadership of Ezra is his humility and his exalted, glorious view of who God is, and what needs to be done when sin is allowed to spread. And that's really what we see in really in chapter 10. And really the final chapter of this book, because now it goes from a lament to a cleaning of the house, right?

Because for 60 years, there has been a major problem that has been slowly brewing in the people, and that has been intermarriage with foreigners. And when anytime, Joey, we have seen. seen God's covenant people intermarrying or intermingling with the outsiders. It always means what, what always comes from that Joe and tell us why this matters.

Yeah. Unfortunately, when you connect your life with somebody who's connected to death, then death starts connecting to your

Yep. Mm.

an unfaithfulness away from God, where you start to make something that could have been just a good thing, a God thing. And when you start to intermingle with people who have false gods and false idols , and false forms of worship, it starts to leaven the lump, so to speak a little leaven leavens the lump, and it starts to turn your heart away from God.

And that's what you really see in these last two chapters, the intermingling of marriage with these different, pagan worshipers, really no other way to put it, the heart of God's people shifted from Yahweh and onto any other way that was exposed to them. In fact, the Bible says in Proverbs 14, 12, there is a way that seems right to a man, but it's end is the way of death.

And so what does Ezra do? Ezra calls them back and says, what have you guys done? And he begins to expose that this problem has happened. And he, calls them to massive confession of this sin, to actually expel these marriages and to literally get their hearts back, loyal to the God of their fathers, and he calls them to put away their wives.

He tells them to actually offer sacrifices for this, to actually have their sins atoned for, and of course, now they have a temple to do so again. This is so key, you see, there has to be the shedding of blood for the remission of sin, and today many Jewish people are, unable to do this Bodie, they haven't been able to do it for 2000 years.

That's because they don't need to have a temple to do it anymore. Do they? Jesus has paid the price for us and his blood has atoned for us, and for the Christian today, we know for the last 2000 years, we know why there hasn't been a temple needed because we've become the temple because Christ laid down his life and through his death, burial and resurrection, we have the atonement and the forgiveness of sins to show our loyal covenant love back to God because we are the bride of Christ.

it. I love it. Oh, Joey. It's so, so, so good. And I just, it's the heart for God that we see throughout scripture, but that we really see in Ezra's leadership, that he is appalled at those things that break the heart of God, instead of just kind of passively permitting them, he is appalled.

And he, like many of the good Kings that we just have talked about, he doesn't just sit on it, he takes action. He cleans house in the same way that the kings, the good Kings of Judah did away and abolished the high places. We see the same thing happening here with Ezra, and that's really where the book ends.

He calls the people to repent and to abolish these marriages for the sake of what their national identity maintains for them to be faithful to each other is to be faithful to Yahweh, and that's why these marriages are so dangerous. Same way, like you already said, that we marry ourselves to ideas or to loyalties today that will drift our heart away from God.

And so God made us for him. That is where our greatest joy and purpose and meaning is found. And, but yet Joey, we get tempted, don't we? To put our heart, to put our loyalty into other things.

And I think just as we kind of wrap up the book, you know, one of my favorite things is Ezra's. persistent passion for the law and how his love of the word and the law radiates into his love of holiness. Because he sees and studies the law, it therefore translates into his life. And Joey, how many people are out there who know the Bible inside and out, but don't love to do the ways of the Lord. So I love that about Ezra. What do you love as we wrap up our episode?

Well, I also love what you love because that was great,


the Word of God spreading through the people of God to be able to return back to worship and holiness. I love that. would also add that loyalty to God is a beautiful theme in this book. I love that God is not wanting there to be any mixture between the holiness of his ways and the filth of this world.

He doesn't want us to be a mixture. We know what the book of revelation says about the lukewarm church of Laodicea. Because you are lukewarm, I will spew out of my mouth. And he says, I counsel you to buy gold, refined in the fire. Well, you really see that's what takes place in Ezra.

If you want to see, what does that look like, to buy gold, refined in the fire, that's what we're seeing in this book. In fact, back to the prayer in chapter nine. And I just love this prayer, Bodie. Do you know how this prayer began? It began in verse six where, where Ezra says, Oh my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to you.

My God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens. Well, the Bible says that his mercies, are higher than the heavens. So no matter how many sins we can stack up on this earth, what I love is that we learn from Ezra that we have a merciful God whose mercies are higher than the heavens.

And so I love the call to purity in this book, the call to loyalty to God in this book and to get rid of mixtures. We can't be mixing the things of God with the things of the world. James would say in James chapter four, friendship with the world is enmity with God. And so I just love that call. I always find myself refined when I read this book and purified in my motives, and it makes me want to just take a strong stance against sin in my own life and to make sure God, if there's any wicked way in me, Lord, remove it, and lead me in the way everlasting, as David would pray, in Psalm 139.

And, uh, so I love the spirit of honesty, his sense of urgency and the state of necessity that we see in this book through a broken man who found himself being made whole by God and then leading the people to do the same.

I love it. That's so good. Joey, you just landed the plane. I have nothing to add. Just a reminder that Joey is an incredible Bible teacher, and if you are in the New Jersey area, Living Springs Fellowship, you will be blessed, and I would go if I was somewhere closer than thousands of miles away.

But Joey, your heart, I think is so representative of the heart that God wants us to. have,

and so we kind of zoom back again to close up the book. Remember chapters one through six, we just talked about the exiles' return, the rebuilding of the temple, and I loved how you highlighted how central that was for their identity and Ezra's return and the people's reforms, that was part two, seven through 10.

So remember we had said that Ezra Nehemiah was originally one book, and so, it was like first and second Kings and Chronicles. It was divided up, but we're going to now in our next episode, step into the second part of this book. So, you can be looking forward to that.

But before we get to that, just a reminder that if you would like a one page summary of all the notes, key ideas, everything that we had used for this episode, you can go to YouCanLearntheBible.com/notes, that's YouCanLearntheBible.com/notes and download a one page summary of our episode of our breakdown, our seven part framework for the book of Ezra.

And as usual, if you are able to leave a comment on YouTube or on your podcast app, that helps us tremendously to know what is landing and how this is being a blessing to your life. So if you're able to do that, we thank you for that as well.

But Joey, part two is coming next, episode 22, Nehemiah Explained, so, what do our listeners get to look forward to in our next episode?

Well, we're going to fast forward about 15 years and we're going to see what happens when another remnant of God's people come back and work together in unity. One of the great things about Nehemiah is there's a lot more emphasis on the way that different people did different things to cooperate, to see the wall of Jerusalem restored around the temple.

And so this is going to be a great book for spiritual leadership lessons and for seeing how to work together in your local church, where you can use your gifts for the building up of the whole. So stay tuned for next

I love it. Yep. This one here, episode 21, Ezra explained, it's all about the temple and the worship and the right heart, now we get to see the right heart lived out in community, don't we, Joey? In our next episode, episode 22, Nehemiah explained, we hope that this has been helpful, friends, we are here because we believe that you can learn the Bible, and we are committed to helping you do that.

So until we meet again, stay in the word, stay prayerful, stay faithful, remember that God loves you and we will see you again in our next episode. Nehemiah explained episode 22. God bless you.