For 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 were three separate occasions when exiled Jews returned to Israel, and in this seventh chapter of Ezra, we read about the second influx of Jewish exiles where four to five thousand souls returned to Jerusalem to beautify the temple.
But this was also a time when the nation was called to reform their ways and return to the Lord. Ezra was a skilled scribe who knew the Law of Moses, and he became a major player in turning the heart of the nation back to the God of their fathers, with Whom they had made a covenant on Mount Sinai. The accuracy of his detailed writing skills is evidenced throughout the book that is called by his name. And Ezra was a man who desired to hear, obey, and teach the Word of the Lord.
This was the second time that Ezra left Babylon to go to Jerusalem, and various groups of people returned at the same time. The journey to Jerusalem took four months, for we read that on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylon; and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem.
Despite the many dangers that stalked long-distance travellers, Ezra records that his journey was blessed by the Lord: "The good hand of his God was upon him." The hand of God rested on this faithful and godly man because he "set his heart to study the law of the LORD. He also set his heart to practice it and to teach the statutes and ordinances of God to the people of Israel."
We read in Psalms, that the man who meditates on the Law of the Lord, day and night, will prosper in his ways, and the psalmist also reminds us that the nation that trusts in God is blessed, indeed. In Deuteronomy, God promised that if Israel listened to God's voice and obeyed the covenant they made with Him, then they would be blessed among all the peoples of the earth - however, they would be punished for their disobedience.
Israel had experienced God's wrath because of their unbelief, but they were also promised blessings if they trusted in the Lord with all their heart... and so Ezra "set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel."
It was under the leadership of Ezra that the nation, which had strayed so far from God and fallen into gross apostasy and ungodly idolatry, was reminded of its covenant with the Lord, and Ezra was instrumental in returning the nation from sin to salvation.
It was not because of Ezra's distinguished ancestry, nor because of his excellent literary skill that God chose him to bring his straying nation back to Himself - although He used his gifts and abilities in the task. God used Ezra because he was a man who "set his heart to study the law of the LORD. Ezra set his heart to practice it and to teach it to the people of God."
May we meditate on the Word of God, day and night, and systematically study the Scriptures and apply it in our lives - to show ourselves approved unto the Lord so that we may prosper in our spiritual walk, grow in the grace of God, mature in our Christian faith, and become instruments that the Lord may be willing to use for His greater glory.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the exemplary life of Ezra and the way that he set his heart to know, study, and teach Your Word. Develop in me an increasing desire to study, practice, and share the truth of the glorious gospel of Christ from this day forward, and I pray that I may be used by You to turn the hearts of some who have strayed from the way of salvation, back to Yourself. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.