Ezra 7:10 Commentary

 

 

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Ezra 7:10 Commentary

Ezra 7:10 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. (NASB: Lockman) (Read context 7:1-10 )

Greek (Septuagint): hoti Esdras edoken (AAI) (active voice =  Ezra made a volitional choice in his heart to seek the law, etc) en kardia autou zetesai (AAN) ton nomon kai poiein (PAN) kai didaskein (PAN) en Israel prostagmata kai krimata
My rendering of Greek: Because (for) Ezra had made a personal choice, a choice of his will to give (devote) his heart to seek after the law and to continually practice (present tense) it and to continually teach (present tense) it in Israel (both) the ordinances and the decrees.
Amplified: For Ezra had prepared and set his heart to seek the Law of the Lord [to inquire for it and of it, to require and yearn for it], and to do and teach in Israel its statutes and its ordinances. 
(Amplified Bible - Lockman)
ASV: For Ezra had set his heart to seek the law of Jehovah, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances.
KJV: 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.
NLT:  This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the law of the LORD and to teach those laws and regulations to the people of Israel.  (
NLT - Tyndale House)
Young's Literal: 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.

REFERENCES

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Ralph Davis
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Edward Dennett
David Deuel
Explore the Bible
A C Gaebelein
John Gill
L M Grant
Joe Guglielmo
Dave Guzik
Michael Hardt
Matthew Henry
Gregg Herrick
Jamieson, F, B
William Jones
Keil and Delitzsch
William Kelly
Steven Lawson
Richard Mayhue
J Vernon McGee
Middletown Bible
Wil Pounds
David Reid
Henri Rossier
P G Ryken
Philip Graham Ryken
F W Schultz
Chuck Smith
Speaker's
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Today in the Word
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Our Daily Bread
On Site Study

Ezra 7 Art

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Ezra 7 Continuity With The Past And Hope For The Future
Ezra 7:10 Commentary
Ezra 7:10

Ezra 7:9-10
Ezra 7 Commentary
Ezra 7:1-28 The Life that God Blesses - Recommended
Ezra  Commentary
Ezra 7-8 Commentary
Ezra-Nehemiah Commentary
Ezra Commentary
Ezra 7 Commentary
An Old Testament Pattern for Expository Preaching
Ezra 7:8-10 Following Godly Spiritual Leaders
The Book of Ezra Commentary
Ezra 7 Commentary

Ezra 7 Commentary
Ezra 4-7
Ezra 7 Commentary
Ezra 7 Lessons for Believers Today
Ezra 7 Commentary
Ezra - Teaching Outline
Ezra 7 Commentary
Homiletical Commentary on the book of Ezra
Ezra Commentary
Lecture on the book of Ezra
The Pattern of Biblical Preaching - Well Done
Rediscovering Expository Preaching
Ezra 7:6-10 Commentary - Mp3    
Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther - Study
Ezra - Chart of Period of Restoration
Ezra 7:10 Spiritual Leadership
Ezra 7 Comments
Ezra According to the Gospel - Ezra 7:10
Ezra 7:10 Ezra, According to the Gospel
Ezra 7 Lange's Commentary
Ezra 7:10 The Preparation of the Heart
Ezra 7 Commentary
The Way Back: Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther or Mp3
Ezra 7:1-10; Ezra 7:11-28
Ezra Commentary
Ezra 7:10 Mom's Translation
The Power of God's Word

FOR EZRA HAD SET HIS HEART: (1Samuel 7:3; 1Chronicles 29:18; 2Chronicles 12:14; 19:3; Job 11:13; Psalms 10:17; 57:7)

William Orr calls Ezra 7:10 the "key verse" for he sees this as the key to Ezra's character. (Reference)

Exposition of the "Ezra 7:10 Principle" - the "secret" of Spirit empowered, Word centered, Christ exalting, God glorifying preaching and "abundant life" living (John 10:10).

The "setting" of our heart - At the outset of this exposition, it strikes me that Ezra's heart was like a compass, ever pointing to God through the supernatural working of His Spirit and His living and active word. And it was in this supernatural context of a Word saturated, God centered heart, that Ezra, a man of the Book and the God of the Book, was compelled (even impelled) to return to his beloved city of Jerusalem. May we as believers on this side of the Cross find ourselves so similarly saturated with God's love letter that it grips our heart like it did Ezra's, so that we are compelled (even impelled) to live progressively more and more with a Colossians 3:1, 2, 3, 4/Romans 12:1, 2 mindset (notes Col 3:1; 3:2; 3:3; 3:4; Ro 12:1; 12:2) and the things of this present world grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. Amen. (Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus - Violin and Video; Cyberhymnal Midi)

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Refrain

Refrain
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.


Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!
Refrain

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Refrain

3 JEWISH RETURNS
FROM BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY

Historical Context - Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther are the last three books in the historical section of the Old Testament (Joshua-Nehemiah). These three books tell us what happened to the Jewish people after the 70 Year Babylonian Captivity and give details of the three stages of the return of the Jews (538, 458, 445 BC) to their beloved city Jerusalem. In is interesting to note that there were also three stages of exile to Babylon - 603, 597 and 586 BC!

THE 3 RETURNS OF THE JEWS TO JERUSALEM
AFTER THE 70 YEARS OF BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY

# DATE SCRIPTURE LEADER RULER
1 538 BC Ezra 1-6
Temple Rebuilt
Zerubbabel
Joshua
Cyrus

58 Years = Time Lapse Between Ezra 6 & 7
All the Events of Esther Take Place During this Time

2 458 BC Ezra 7-10 Ezra Artaxerxes

Ezra Serves as Priest in Jerusalem for the Intervening 13 Years
Ezra Appears in Nehemiah 8 After Wall Rebuilt  - Revival Occurs

3 445 BC Nehemiah 1-13
Wall Rebuilt
Nehemiah Artaxerxes

Relationship of the books of Ezra to Nehemiah and Esther - The book of Ezra is a very interesting book because it is actually two books, Ezra 1-6 comprising "book one" and Ezra 7-10 comprising "book two".  Between Ezra 6 and 7 there is a time gap of about 58 years! And guess what? During this 58 year time gap all of the events in the book of Esther took place! Then Ezra 10 is immediately succeeded by the events in the book of Nehemiah. So compressed into these last 3 historical books of the Old Testament canon, are four fascinating stories dealing with God's sovereign, providential dealings with His chosen people after 70 year period of punishment as captives in Babylon. In Psalm 137, the psalmist gives us some insight into how the exiled Jews felt about this time of exile. As you read these words filled with pathos, ponder the pain and the pull of homesickness for the city of God that must have gripped godly leaders like Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah...

Psalm 137:1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. 2 Upon the willows in the midst of it We hung our harps. 3 For there our captors demanded of us songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion." 4 How can we sing the LORD's song In a foreign land? 5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill. 6  May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, If I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.

Comment: These sad words give us some insight into the emotions that must have filled and motivated the hearts of men like Ezra and Nehemiah to resolve to leave their comfortable conditions in Persia and return to their blessed city of David. Dear NT believer, let the Spirit birthed yearnings for our heavenly Zion and our glorious King, motivate and inspire and compel us to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (see Phil 3:14-note), not becoming comfortable with this present world which is passing away and even its lusts (cp 1John 2:15, 16, 17).

Dear Father in heaven, according to Your great lovingkindness please grant that your redeemed sons and daughters might have hearts like Ezra and Nehemiah such that we would continually contemplate and yearn for Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12:22-note), and that this longing and passion might by Your grace cause us to order our steps ever upward during our short sojourn as aliens and strangers (1 Pe 2:11-note) in this present evil age. For Thy glory. Amen.

The Persian Kings during the time of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther -

1. CYRUS THE GREAT (550-530 B.C.).

This is the king that Isaiah had long ago promised would come and deliver the children of Israel (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1, 2, 3, 4, 5). He conquered the Babylonians and then allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and to rebuild their temple (Ezra chapter 1). Daniel was still alive when Cyrus was king (Daniel 1:21; 10:1).

2. CAMBYSES (530-522 B.C.)

3. SMERDIS (he ruled less than a year)

4. DARIUS THE GREAT (522-486 B.C.)

Darius made a decree that the work of the temple should be continued without any hindrance (Ezra chapter 6). It was during his reign that the temple was completed (Ezra chapter 6).

Note: Don’t confuse this king with Darius the Mede who is mentioned in the book of Daniel (see Daniel 5:31; 6:1). Darius the Mede was the governor of Babylon under Cyrus the Great.

5. AHASUERUS or XERXES (486-464 B.C.)

This is the king that we read about in the book of Esther. Esther became his queen. He is also mentioned in Ezra 4:6.

6. ARTAXERXES I (464-423 B.C.)

At first this king sent a decree ordering the Jews to stop rebuilding the city and the walls (see Ezra 4:6-23). Later, however, he allowed his cupbearer, Nehemiah, to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls (Nehemiah chapters 1-2). This is also the same king who had earlier allowed Ezra to return (Ezra 7-8).

These were all great kings, but as we read the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther, we learn that there is a much greater KING in heaven who is in control of all things! (adapted
from Middletown Bible synopsis)

Ezra (see dictionary discussion for background on Ezra)

For (Hebrew conjunction transliterated as "ki") Don't miss this conjunction which is used in Hebrew to introduce an explanation and functions similar to a term of conclusion. The New Living Translation although a paraphrase strongly emphasizes the linkage between this passage and the preceding passages writing that...

This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the law of the LORD and to teach those laws and regulations to the people of Israel.

The natural question is "What is this?" or "What does for explain?" and to answer we need to observe the previous passages where we find the powerful truth that the good hand of the LORD was upon Ezra..

For on the first of the first month he began to go up from Babylon; and on the first of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, because the good hand of his God was upon him. (Ezra 7:9)

Comment: The Septuagint rendering (For Esdras had determined in his heart to seek the law, and to do and teach the ordinances and judgments in Israel.) is almost identical to the Hebrew rendering. The Septuagint renders the Hebrew word for "good" (tob) with the Greek adjective agathos which describes that which is "good" in its character or constitution and beneficial, useful or profitable in its effect. Agathos describes that which has the proper characteristics for performing the expected function in a fully satisfactory way. What better way to think of the "hand of Jehovah"! Always sufficient for the need of the moment.

The metaphor of being in someone's hand (or having their hand on someone) was common in the OT and spoke of being in the power of that person or entity. In the present context, the picture is one of God's power (His "good hand") being upon Ezra the scribe, not to defeat him but to give him the victory. This same phrase (hand of his God) is repeated several times in Ezra and gives us a clue to the "secret" behind his strong leadership, his influence with kings and his soul stirring preaching. Notice the same phrase earlier in this chapter...

Ezra 7:6 This Ezra went up from Babylon, and he was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given; and the king granted him all he requested because the hand of the LORD his God was upon him.

Comment: Why did this pagan king grant Ezra his request? The Scripture clearly states "because the hand of the LORD his God was upon him."

Here are the other occurrences of the phrase the good hand of the LORD in the book of Ezra...

Ezra 7:27 Blessed be the LORD (the result of God's hand being upon him granting him favor was to break out in a chorus of praise and thanksgiving, giving glory to the only One Who should receive glory! As we experience His blessing and hand upon us, may we also imitate Ezra's response!), the God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to adorn the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem, 28 and has extended lovingkindness to me before the king and his counselors and before all the king's mighty princes. Thus I was strengthened according to the hand of the LORD my God upon me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.

Comment: This passage makes it clear that it was God Who put such a thing into this pagan king’s heart to allow Ezra and his fellow Jews to return and beautify the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. As noted above (Ezra 7:6) Ezra still had to go and ask for this favor (man's responsibility), even though God had placed it in the king's heart (God's sovereignty). To go before such a powerful monarch and ask for such extravagant provisions for his people who were in captivity and whom the king easily could have exterminated took courage. Where did Ezra derive that courage? Read verse 28 again, which clearly states the source of Ezra’s strength! There is an interesting principle here that God's blesses but some of his blessings entail men fulfilling their responsibility, the very principle Paul explains in the New Testament (see notes Philippians 2:12; 13)

Ezra 8:18 And according to the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of insight of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel, namely Sherebiah, and his sons and brothers, 18 men;

Prayer and Fasting and
The Good Hand of the Lord

Ezra 8:22 For I was ashamed to request from the king troops and horsemen to protect us from the enemy on the way, because we had said to the king, "The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him (exactly what Ezra had purposed in his heart in Ezra 7:10), but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him." 23 So we fasted and sought our God concerning this matter, and He listened to our entreaty. 

Comment: This passage adds another facet to the Ezra 710 principle (set heart, study, do, teach) by emphasizing the role of prayer and fasting. This is not surprising because intake of the pure Word into a godly heart will stimulate Word centered, God exalting prayer.

Ezra 8:31 Then we journeyed from the river Ahava on the twelfth of the first month to go to Jerusalem; and the hand of our God was over us, and He delivered us from the hand of the enemy and the ambushes by the way.

Summary of Effect of
God's Good Hand on Ezra

Ezra 7:6 Provision
Ezra 7:27, 28 Power
Ezra 8:22,23 Protection

Fear of the LORD and
The Good Hand of Jehovah

Here is another passage that teaches a similar truth using a different anthropomorphism (eye instead of hand)...

Behold, the eye of the LORD (cp "hand of the LORD") is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine (blessed = fully satisfied independent of the circumstances). (Psalm 33:18, 19)

Comment: Deliverance from evil does not come by military power, manpower, or horsepower but spiritual power. And so we see that the Psalmist amplifies the Ezra 710 principle (set heart, study, do, teach, prayer and fasting in Ezra 8:22, 23) with an individual's volitional choice to fear (reverentially awe) Jehovah. (cp Ps 128:1, 2)

Nehemiah and
The Good Hand of Jehovah

Here are the other 2 uses of the phrase "hand of Jehovah" or variation thereof in the life of Nehemiah, another OT saint whom God used mightily to accomplish His work on earth...

Nehemiah 2:7 And I (Nehemiah) said to the king (see ISBE article on King Artaxerxes), "If it please the king, let letters be given me for the governors of the provinces beyond the River, that they may allow me to pass through until I come to Judah, 2:8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress which is by the temple, for the wall of the city, and for the house to which I will go." And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me.

Nehemiah 2:18 And I told them (the Jews who would help build the wall) how the hand of my God had been favorable to me (literally "the hand of my God that is good upon me"), and also about the king's words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, "Let us arise and build." So they put their hands to the good work.

MISSING THE BLESSING
OF THE GOOD HAND OF THE LORD

This principle regarding the good hand of the LORD is seen in the prophets words to King Asa (who sadly ignored them to his detriment)...

2Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support (cp "good hand of Jehovah") those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.

Comment: Note that this verse also begins with for indicating that the writer is explaining something previously stated, in context explaining why the LORD had delivered Asa's (and Israel's) enemies into his hand or power. Notice how King Asa serves as an example (cp 1Cor 10:6, 11) of one who clearly experienced the the good hand of the LORD upon him as king over Judah giving him victories over his adversaries (read  2Chronicles 15:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 2Chr 16:1ff for the historical context). Don't miss how Asa's "success" (cp "good hand of the LORD") was integrally associated with his hearing (and welcoming) the word of Jehovah through the prophet Azariah (cp Ezra's setting his heart to study and practice the Law of the LORD) in 2Chronicles 15. Then contrast the time of blessing ("good hand upon") of Jehovah in 2Chronicles 15:15, with the consequences of refusing to receive and practice the Word of God delivered to King Asa through Hanani the seer in 2Chronicles 16:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. The upshot - you can experience the good hand of the LORD for a season and you can lose it by failing to continue to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly! (see Col 3:16-note) If any may thinks he stands, he had better take heed lest he fall. God is opposed to  ("stiff arms"!) the proud (cp "the heavy hand of Jehovah") but gives grace to the humble ("the good hand").

Lot, a righteous man (clearly a true believer - see 2Pe 2:6-note; 2Pe 2:7-note; 2Pe 2:8-note; 2Pe 2:9-note) is another sad example of a man who missed the blessing of the good hand of the LORD. In Genesis 13 the growth of the flocks of Abram and Lot led to strife and the need for them to separate. Abram gave Lot "first choice", a choice which resulted in Lot's missing the "good hand of the LORD". Note the progression in the following passages...

Genesis 13:10 And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere—this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. 11 So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan; and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD.

Lot looked, chose, and settled ("became comfortable" rather than living as an alien and stranger - see 1Pe 1:1-note; 1 Peter 2:11-note) and missed the good hand of the LORD. In Genesis 19:16 we see that Lot was so settled in Sodom that the hand of God's angels had to yank he and his whole family out of that moral cesspool! Let us remember Lot's example, lest our looking and choosing in this fleeting life cause us to miss the good hand of the Lord on our life, our family, our ministry! Or as Jesus commanded his listeners in (Luke 17:32) "Remember (present imperative = keep on remembering. Why? Because our tendency is to drift, to forget!) Lot's wife" because she lingered and looked back (Ge 19:26) and paid for her disobedience with her life.

May God grant us each grace and mercy so that we as godly men and leaders of our churches and families will not forget these tragic OT examples of men who missed the blessing of the good hand of the LORD! Amen

EZRA
A MAN OF ONE BOOK

God's good hand was clearly associated with the provision, power and protection in Ezra's ministry. And as we see seen the root of divine blessing was that Ezra was a "man of the book" (scratch him anywhere and he "bled Bible"), a man like Apollos who was mighty in the Scriptures (Acts 18:24). Ezra is a worthy model for any preacher who desires to be used mightily by the Lord.

The Pulpit Commentary comments on the good hand of the LORD upon Ezra writing that...

His (Ezra's) soul felt the quickening touch of the Divine finger, and it kindled with a sacred glow of piety and zeal. He was moved of God to attempt great things, and helped of God to achieve them. His life flowed on like a fertilizing river (Ed: cp Ps 1:2), and did so because “all his springs were in God” (Ps 87:7). Our character may contain much that is excellent, and our lives include much that is honourable, but except the “hand of the Lord our God be upon us,” renewing our heart and blessing our life, we shall not be or do that which is pleasing to him or useful to our fellows (Ed: Cp Jesus' words in John 15:5). (The Pulpit Commentary: Ezra. H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.)

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(1) Ezra “sought the law of the Lord.” No study more remunerative—more ennobling—more pleasing to God.

(2) He sought it in earnest. “prepared his heart,” viz., by raising it above impure prejudices; by seeking the light of the great Inspirer in prayer.

(3) He reduced it to practice. He prepared his heart “to do it.” Glorious example. His life was therefore righteous, and his influence consequently great—viz., (a) With God. (b) With the king. (c) With the people.

(4) And “he taught it to Israel.” He taught Israel the “statutes,” viz., precepts and “judgments,” viz., sanctions (1 Kings 6:12; Ezek. 11:12). What a degenerate succession from the noble Ezra were the scribes of our Lord’s day! Let us emulate his qualities.—J. A. M. (The Pulpit Commentary: Ezra. H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.)

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Ezra: his character and work. The study of human character and of human life is not only an essential part of human knowledge, but of spiritual culture. Biography is a means of grace. We do well to follow in thought the lines along which the noblest of our race have moved: we are thereby attracted toward them, and grow up toward their spiritual stature. We may learn from the life and character of Ezra by considering—

I. What we know he was and did.

He was—

1. A priest, claiming descent, as we see, from Aaron (Ezra 7:5); and we doubt not that he discharged, faithfully and conscientiously, the duties of the priesthood. He was, moreover, what came to be called—

2. A scribe (Ezra 7:6), i.e., (1) a student, (2) an interpreter, and (3) a copyist of the law. Ezra “prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach,” etc. (Ezra 7:10).

These three functions of the scribe include the three most important duties a man can undertake: viz.,

(1) his duty of himself, in studying the will of God as revealed in his word, that he may have it in his own heart; and,

(2) his duty to his own generation, in teaching his fellows what he has learned: in interpreting, in “giving the sense” (Neh. 8:8), in “teaching statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:10), i. e. in declaring and enforcing the great truths which God had revealed, especially those which affected the duty and the prospects of the Jewish people; and

(3) his duty to his race, in copying, and thus multiplying and preserving intact the word and the very words of God. Ezra “gave his heart” to this (Ezra 7:10), and the result was that he did it with conspicuous and commanding ability (Neh. 8). He was a “ready scribe” (Ezra 7:6).

3. Administrator and reformer. He conducted the party whom he headed to Jerusalem in peace and safety (Ezra 7:8); there he established himself as leader of the people, and set about the work of reforming abuses with a vigorous hand. His ardour led to a serviceable organisation and reform. He seems also to have been, as few strong-willed men are, a co-operator with others. He acted with Nehemiah, the governor, and it may well have been difficult to define strictly their respective offices.

4. Man of influence with his fellows. There was that about him, due to the elevation and disinterestedness of his character as well as to the vigour and robustness of his mind, which gave him strange influence with the king, so that he gave him leave to lead out a large return party, and also entrusted him with large powers in the commission. Men who, like Ezra, earnestly seek the will of God and do what they know to be right (Ezra 7:10), and lay themselves out for “doing good and communicating” (Heb. 13:16), are likely to have power with men.

5. Man through whom God wrought.The hand of the Lord his God was upon him” (Ezra 7:6, 9, etc.). His soul felt the quickening touch of the Divine finger, and it kindled with a sacred glow of piety and zeal. He was moved of God to attempt great things, and helped of God to achieve them. His life flowed on like a fertilizing river (Ed: cp the  man of Ps 1:2), and did so because “all his springs were in God” (Ps 87:7). Our character may contain much that is excellent, and our lives include much that is honourable, but except the hand of the Lord our God be upon us, renewing our heart and blessing our life, we shall not be or do that which is pleasing to him or useful to our fellows.

II. Generally received tradition respecting Ezra.

It is commonly believed among the Jews that he instituted the Great Synagogue, that he settled the canon of Scripture, that he himself wrote the books of the Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and (perhaps) Esther, and that he established the system of synagogue worship. This last arose about his time, and, if indeed due to him, is a work which laid his countrymen, and indeed us all (for had not the forms of the synagogue something, if not much, to do with the forms of the early Church?), under a heavy debt of gratitude. Ezra was a holy and zealous man, with a strong mind and a firm will, exercising a commanding influence on his contemporaries, making the word of God the basis and mainspring of his action, seeking and striving for the purity of the people of God. Some things he did we know. Others we know not of. We may not be so great and distinguished as he was. It may not be in our power to render such signal services as he did, or to leave behind us such a reputation as he has left. Yet in the essentials of his character and work we may be like him. We also may—

(1) Be devout students of God’s will as revealed in his word—“preparing our heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it.”

(2) Open our hearts to receive heavenly influences; gain by humility, docility, and prayer” the hand of the Lord our God upon us,” so that he will dwell in us and work through us.

(3) Make known the will of God to others, teaching in some sphere, higher or humbler, the word of God and the truth of Jesus Christ.

(4) Co-operate cheerfully with others, yielding our preferences to theirs, being “of the same mind in the Lord” with those who are our fellow-labourers in the field of Christian work. And if we do this as did Ezra, we shall, like him,

(5) do that which men will mark and praise, but much more that they will not record; much, however, that will not be unwritten in some book of God, and that will “in no wise lose its reward.”—C. (The Pulpit Commentary: Ezra. H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.)

To reiterate, God’s sovereign hand of blessing and empowerment was on Ezra because he was a "Word saturated man" one who "marinated" himself in the pure milk of the Word and then lived out what the Spirit taught him in his studies.

As Horatio Bonar once advised...  

We must study the Bible more. We must not only lay it up within us, but transfuse it through the whole texture of the soul.

Thus it was not so much that Ezra had gone through the Book so many times, but more that the Book had coursed through his heart and soul to the point that his will was in synch with will of God which is always most clearly revealed in the Word of God. Ezra was "in touch" with the Father's heart, through His Word and the teaching ministry of His Spirit, and as a result had as his heart's desire to see God glorified in his life (cp notes on same principle in the NT - letting your light shine Matthew 5:16)

Pastor Steven Cole introduces his message on Ezra 7:1-28 The Life that God Blesses (Pdf) with the following words...

Over thirty years ago, I read a sermon that has impacted my life as much or more than any of the thousands of sermons that I have read. It is titled, “Expecting the Lord’s Blessing,” by the late Chinese evangelist Watchman Nee (in Twelve Baskets Full [Hong Kong Church Book Room], 2:48-64). That sermon, based on the Lord’s feeding of the 5,000, has affected the entire direction and motivation of my personal life and my ministry. Nee hammers home a simple but profound truth: “Everything in our service for the Lord is dependent on His blessing” (p. 48). He observes that in the feeding of the 5,000, the supply in hand was totally inadequate to meet the demand, and yet the demand was met. He says, “The meeting of need is not dependent on the supply in hand, but on the blessing of the Lord resting on the supply” (ibid.). That leads Nee to ask a question that I want you to ponder seriously: “Do we really prize the Lord’s blessing?” (p. 49). Do you really want and seek God’s blessing on your personal life, your family, your service for the Lord, and on His church?

We all know the right answer to that question. Few would be so brazen as to say, “No, I don’t want God’s blessing. I’d rather try to make my own blessings apart from God!” But I don’t want you to give a knee-jerk “yes” answer just because it is the obviously correct answer. I want you to think about the implications of the question before you answer.

There are a number of men in Scripture whom God blessed: Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, and David are prominent examples. But Ezra is also a man whom God blessed, even though he is not so well known as those other men are. We first meet him in chapter 7 of the book that bears his name. There is a 57-58 year gap between the events in chapters 6 and 7. The temple had been rebuilt under the ministries of Zerubbabel and Jeshua, aided by the preaching of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. The exiles that had returned to Israel during that first wave were either dead or very old by now. They had settled into the land and, as we will see, in many cases had begun to blend together with the pagans of the land. The walls of Jerusalem had not been rebuilt, leaving the city vulnerable to attack. God raised up Ezra and Nehemiah to bring spiritual reform to His people.

Both men were born in Babylon and had close connections with King Artaxerxes. No doubt they both enjoyed comfortable living conditions there. But both men were burdened with the low spiritual state of the exiles that had returned to the land. Both men were willing to give up their comfortable situations in Babylon and endure the hardship and hassles to bring reform to God’s people. But how could they accomplish this overwhelming task? The answer occurs in a phrase that first occurs three times in our chapter, and then five times in the rest of Ezra and Nehemiah: God’s hand was on these men (Ezra 7:6, 9, 28; 8:18, 22, 31; Neh 2:8, 18). God’s hand is another way of saying God’s blessing. God blessed these two men and their labors for Him. If we want His blessing or hand to rest on us, we would do well to study their lives. We could add more factors, but limiting ourselves to Ezra 7, we learn that…

To have God’s hand of blessing on us, we must study and obey His Word, with a view to teaching others and glorifying God for everything.

That theme is stated in Ezra 7:10, which explains why “the good hand of his God was upon him” (7:9): “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.” The connection between Ezra and God’s Word is repeated no less than eight times (Ezra 7:6, 10, 11, 12, 14, 21, 25, 26)! There is a definite correlation between our commitment to know and obey God’s Word and His hand of blessing being upon us. (The Life that God Blesses - if you are not familiar with Pastor Cole's teaching ministry, you might read some of his excellent expositional sermons which function much like commentaries)

Had set his heart (not his head but his heart!)

Had prepared (kuwn) his heart. (see below)

Set (03559) (kuwn) means to set up, to make firm, to establish, to prepare. The primary action of this verb is to cause to stand in an upright position, and thus kuwn can also mean fixed or steadfast. This same verb is used to describe God establishing the heavens (Pr 3:19).

The picture of kuwn in the present context is that of preparing one's heart, in this case to seek, to study, to receive the Word of Truth. Compare a similar use of kuwn in the case of Solomon's successor to the throne Rehoboam of whom the chronicler records...

And he did evil because he did not set (Kuwn - "prepared not" = KJV) his heart to seek the Lord. (2Chr 12:14)

Kuwn is used one other time in Ezra chapter 3, and this literal use provides an illustration of the figurative use in the present passage...

Ezra 3:3 So they set up (kuwn) the altar on its foundation, for they were terrified because of the peoples of the lands; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, burnt offerings morning and evening.

One could also read the text of Ezra 7:10 as stating that Ezra had ”Set his heart firmly" which gives the idea that Ezra was inwardly determined or resolutely steadfast. He was determined and this determination was directed toward studying, obeying, and teaching God’s Law to others—Mark it down! This pattern while not a "formula", is to be sure an inviolable order for a Spirit empowered ministry! You cannot teach with power until you yourself have practiced (obeyed) what you have studied. Do be otherwise deluded (cp James 1:22-note).

We as NT believers, like the OT believer Ezra, must continually set (because the flesh, the world and the devil continually tempt us to "veer off course") our hearts to seek, do, and teach the Word of God, for no one accidentally becomes a faithful student of God's Word. We must each make a daily deliberate decision of our will (continual choosing) to lay aside lesser things and/or things that hinder us (see Hebrews 12:1-note) in order to seek the best.

J I Packer emphasizes the critical need for each of us to prepare our hearts before we seek God in His Word noting that...

 

One of the many divine qualities of the Bible is this: that it does not yield its secrets to the irreverent and censorious.

Spurgeon issues a similar caveat declaring that...

God sends every bird its food, but He does not throw it into the nest.

One is reminded of Solomon's wise advice concerning godly wisdom, noting that...

If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures then you will discern the fear of the LORD, and discover the knowledge of God.

DANIEL'S SECRET
OF SUCCESS

Daniel was without question one of the greatest of the Old Testament saints (cp Ezekiel 14:14) and was one who able to live godly in a radically ungodly, idolatrous culture (sound familiar?).

What was Daniel's secret? Daniel 1 explains that Daniel's secret was the same as Ezra's in that it has to do with the choices one makes in one's heart. In Daniel chapter 1 we read the key (in my opinion) to his long godly life in which he repeatedly experienced the good hand of the LORD upon all of his endeavors...

But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king's choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.

Note that Daniel 1:7 begins with "but Daniel" which begs the question of what is being contrasted? The previous section gives the context...

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, 4 youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding, and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king's court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 And the king appointed for them a daily ration from the king's choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king's personal service. 6 Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach, and to Azariah Abed-nego (Daniel 1:3-7)

RELATED RESOURCE: Daniel 1 Commentary

So we see that Daniel made a choice that could have cost him his life. The phrase "made up his mind" is more literally "placed it upon his heart", where the heart reflects the "control tower" so to speak of one's life. The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew text) translated into English reads...

And Daniel himself (reflexive = he initiated the action and participated in the results) placed it upon his heart that he would absolutely not (double negative in the BGT [TH], the strongest way to express negation in Greek) be polluted (defiled) in the king's banquet...

Isn't life really nothing but a series of (sometimes hard) "heart choices"? Perhaps what you are considering is not sinful, but is it God's best? Is it something that will allow you to redeem the time knowing how precious are these few years we have on earth in light of our eternity in God's presence? May God give each of us the grace that Daniel possessed to assess our "life options" and choose to lay on our heart those options which are the most God glorifying. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

In summary, to set one’s heart is to “direct his heart constantly towards”.

WHAT IS THE DIRECTION
OF YOUR HEART?

PONDER WHERE IT WILL TAKE YOU
IN THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES...

Scripture has a number of passages that use the identical phrase (same verb and noun in Hebrew) of directing one's heart...

Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, "If you return to the LORD with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the LORD and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand (paraphrase = "from the power") of the Philistines." (1Samuel 7:3,4) (What is the promise?...Man's responsibility? Note the verbs - return... remove... direct... deliver)

(David's prayer for Israel and his son Solomon) O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (he is making his appeal based on the Abrahamic Covenant), our fathers, preserve this forever in the intentions of the heart of Thy people, and direct their heart to Thee (see 2 Chr 20:3 below) and give to my son Solomon a perfect heart to keep Thy commandments, Thy testimonies, and Thy statutes, and to do them all, and to build the temple, for which I have made provision." (1 Chronicles 29:18,19)

And he (King Rehoboam) did evil because he did not set his heart (Hebrew word here is not lebab but related noun leb - 03820) to seek the LORD. (2 Chronicles 12:14) (Why did he do evil? What do we have to do before we can truly "seek God"? Dear God, deliver us from this subtle trap in our own lives - let it be not our way, but Thine. Amen)

(Jehu the prophet speaking and denouncing the king) But there is some good in you (King Jehoshaphat), for you have removed the Asheroth from the land and you have set your heart to seek God." 4 So Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem and went out again among the people from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim and brought them back to the LORD, the God of their fathers. (2Chronicles 19:3, 4)

The high places, however, were not removed; the people had not yet directed their hearts to the God of their fathers. (2Chronicles 20:33)

Comment: 2 Chronicles 17:6 says King Jehoshaphat removed the high places and Asherim from Judah, but this verse indicates that apparently the people of Israel had otherwise resisted Jehoshaphat's decree.

(Speaking of the generation to come, Asaph says they should be taught to remember and obey God) And not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart, and whose spirit was not faithful to God. (Psalm 78:8)

Comment: Note how unfaithfulness to God parallels not preparing one's heart!

Spurgeon adds... "They had no decision for righteousness and truth. In them there was no preparedness, or willingness of heart, to entertain the Saviour; neither judgments, nor mercies could bind their affections to their God; they were fickle as the winds, and changeful as the waves." (Ref)

Here are some other excellent cross references related to setting one's heart. If you have time study them in context to see implications of preparing one's heart --

2Chronicles 11:16, 30:19, Job 11:13, Psalms 10:17, 57:7, 62:10, 78:8, 37, 108:1, 112:7,8, 1Corinthians 15:58, 16:13.

Ezra's heart was undoubtedly prepared to receive the Word implanted by confession of his sins for it is impossible to study the Scriptures profitably with an impure mind.

Therefore putting aside (decisively casting off sins as one would a filthy, odoriferous garment!) all filthiness (Greek rhuparia from rhupos = wax in one's ear!) and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive (accept deliberately and readily, receive kindly, as one would put out a welcome mat for guests!) the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. (see James 1:21-note)

Comment: While this "salvation" could refer to our initial salvation (justified or declared righteous by faith), it could also refer to our daily salvation (progressive sanctification) of which all believers stand in continual need.

Therefore, putting aside (casting these off like a "dirty, filthy" garment) all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander (note the "all's" - 1Jn 1:9 says when we confess God cleanses us from all unrighteousness!), like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation (See 1Pe 2:1-note; 1Pe 2:2-2:2)

Sin will keep you from the Bible or
The Bible will keep you from sin.

The phrase set his heart conveys the idea of being firmly committed to a particular course of action with unwavering steadfastness. The verb signifies being “established, prepared, fixed” in a determined pursuit. The same root word is used to portray God’s establishment of the heavens (Pr 3:19; 8:27). Thus the expression carries the idea of a determined purpose and unwavering resolution to act in a prescribed way to bring something to pass.

To paraphrase this verse in modern terms Ezra's heart...

was zeroed in on the primary goal of studying God’s Word.

The Bible...
The more you read it, the more you love it;
The more you love it, the more you read it.

In Psalm 1 guarding ourselves from wickedness (not walking, standing or sitting) precedes delighting in the Word which leads to meditating on the Word. (See exposition of Psalm 1:1-note; Ps 1:2-note; Ps 1:3-note) And the more we meditate on it, tasting and seeing that the Lord is good, the more we delight in it, etc.

Heart (03824) (lebab) (LXX = kardia - see word study) refers not only to his intellect per se only but in Hebrew speaks of that which rules one's very being, the very center of human life -- the seat of affections, emotions, desires. The heart, in which Ezra purposed to study the Scriptures connotes “the totality of man’s inner or immaterial nature”

Ezra, or anyone who would follow his example, would direct the core of their being constantly toward the task of studying and pouring over the Scriptures. But to say that this function was Ezra's “ministry” would be missing emphasis of Ezra 7:10. More to the point, one might say that the study of the Scriptures was his life—his all-consuming passion. Little else commanded his attention like the task that God had set before him. Ezra gave his best effort to study, practice, and teach God’s law, each activity being observed completely and in order. At this point, we must each do personal inventory and ask - Do I truly give God my best efforts in this area? If we "stop" up the fountain, the source of life in His living and active word, we short circuit the Spirit's power in our life and ministry. Being "anemic" ourselves, we have little power and passion to pass on to those we are called to disciple.

I remember reading about John MacArthur's interview (my details may not be completely accurate) to take the lead pastor position at Grace Community Church. As I recall the story, he said that he would take the position on the condition (what I would call an "Ezra 7:10" condition) that the church would guarantee that he had 30 hours of uninterrupted study time during the week in which he could read and meditate on the Word so that he would have truth from God to bring to the congregation on Sunday. Let me ask you...Has the good hand of the LORD been upon Dr John MacArthur's ministry? I think the evidence speaks for itself. I love the heading on his website -

"Unleashing God's truth one verse at a time".

A similar story could surely be told about  another well known American pastor, Dr John Piper,  a mighty expositor of God's Word, one who has diligently practiced the Ezra 7:10 principle and as a result has clearly experienced the good hand of the LORD on his ministry. May Dr MacArthur's and Dr Piper's tribe increase!

In summary, both Dr MacArthur and Dr Piper have "bought in" (in my opinion) to the "Ezra 7:10" principle of church growth, feeding their sheep pure milk (see 1Pe 2:2-note) and solid food (see Hebrews 5:14-note) and thereby growing their flocks mightily in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Glory to God in the highest!

With such God glorifying results promised to those who practice the "Ezra 7:10 principle", why do we see so few "Ezras" in the pulpits across America today? I do not know the answer but I feel that part of that answer is that many don't truly believe Luke 1:37 which the ASV renders as...

No word from God shall be void of power.

In this Luke passage, the Greek word for "no" is the strongest word for no that Luke could have used -- absolutely no Word of God is impotent! Do we really believe this is true? Do we really believe that diligent study, practice and teaching of the eternal, inherently powerful word will unleash the power of God's hand upon us, upon our ministry and upon those we pastor? If this is your desire, perhaps you need to reorder priorities if you are the lead pastor or teacher. Perhaps you need to go to the elders and request a block of absolutely, immutably uninterrupted time during the week in order to begin to apply the "Ezra 7:10 principle". If you should be one of those who does make this decision, your church will never be the same as it begins to experience the reality of the supernatural reality of the good hand of the LORD upon it's various ministries.

Revive your shepherds, O LORD,
According to Thy word. Amen.

(based on Ps 119:25)

Now, let us return to the study of our passage and reiterate that the Hebrew word for heart represents the center or middle of something, and can indeed refer to the physical heart, organ which pumps blood to supplies life for the entire body. Of the some 850 uses of heart (lebab) in the Old Testament, the most common meaning is figurative and signifies a person’s inner  being including one's mind, emotions, will, etc. Thus the heart denotes the intellect, by which one thinks, analyzes, compares, and understands a matter (1Kings 3:12; 2Kings 5:26; 2Chr 9:23; Pr 11:12; 16:23), the emotions, or the deepest innermost feelings of a person (Pr 17:22, 25:20); and the volition, the seat of the will where choices are made (Nu 16:28; Judges. 9:3; 2Chr 12:14). When Ezra set his heart to study the Word, the study of Scripture absolutely consumed his life. And even as a healthy physical heart is vital to one's overall physical health, so too the spiritual condition of our heart affects the vitality of our entire being. Little wonder that Scripture is replete with encouragements and admonitions that relate to our spiritual heart, one of my favorites being...

Proverbs 4:23 Watch (Hebrew verb here is a command - it is "imperative" that we continually stand guard on the watchtower; the Greek Lxx uses tereo [see word study] also in the present imperative = this command which speaks of our continual need to keep our eye upon the citadel of our heart, guarding over it in order to protect it  from the variegated noxious agents which the world, the flesh and/or the devil would seek to attack us with) over your heart with all diligence (Solomon uses a word related to that which describes a prison guard keeping watch over a prisoner in a cell), (why?) for from it flow the springs of life (Life is the ability to exercise all one's vital power to the fullest; death is the opposite - Jesus said from our "innermost being shall flow rivers of living water" speaking of the Spirit Who gives life, cp John 7:38, 39, 6:63. A short, but pithy paraphrase would be "Keep your "river" from being polluted!").

The New Living paraphrase accurately conveys the thrust of this Proverbs 4:23...

Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.

Just as the physical heart must be in good shape for our body to be healthy, so too must our spiritual heart be in good condition for optimum functioning in the spiritual realm. When the Spirit of God measures the ''worth'' of a man's life He puts the measuring tape around his heart, not around his head. Be a man after God's Own heart (cp the heart of David, Acts 13:22, not a perfect man but one who offered God a "broken and a contrite heart", Ps 51:17 - "A heart crushed is a fragrant heart. Men contemn those who are contemptible in their own eyes, but the Lord seeth not as man seeth. He despises what men esteem, and values that which they despise. Never yet has God spurned a lowly, weeping penitent, and never will he while God is love, and while Jesus is called the man who receiveth sinners. Bullocks and rams he desires not, but contrite hearts he seeks after; yea, but one of them is better to him than all the varied offerings of the old Jewish sanctuary." Spurgeon's Note).

Matthew Henry commenting on Proverbs 4:23 wrote that...

We must keep a watchful eye and a strict hand upon all the motions of our inward man. ... God, who gave us these souls, gave us a strict charge with them. We must set a strict guard, accordingly, upon all the avenues of the soul; keep our hearts from doing hurt and getting hurt, from being defiled by sin and disturbed by trouble; keep out bad thoughts; keep up good thoughts; keep the affections upon right objects and in due bounds.

If we would "keep" our hearts "with all diligence", we wouldn't be careless, for example, about what gets into our hearts through the "eye-gate". We'd "censor" our own television viewing out of a greater concern to "watch" our own heart. And we'd even be willing to get rid of our television if it's affecting us negatively. We would rid our homes of any visual images or literature that incline us toward sexual immorality or sin of any kind.  We'd not only guard what might come in; but also what might come out. We would keep our own attitudes in check, so that the words that come out of our mouths aren't reflective of evil in our heart. We'll be like David, when he prayed (Psalm 141:3 - Spurgeon's Note).

O child of God, guard well your eyes
From anything that stains the heart;
Forsake those things that soil the mind--
Your Father wants you set apart. --Fasick

If you effectively protect your car from theft, your home from burglary, your property from damage, your financial interests from failure, and your body from personal illness and injury, and even our borders from terrorist attacks - and yet fail in protecting this one, all-important thing as the Bible warns us - that singular failure will effect all other areas of life.

The heart of man is the worst part of his being before his conversion, and the best afterwards. It is the fountain of all his actions. The eye of God is always fixed on the heart. And believers should be carefully watchful of their hearts. Christianity is a religion of the heart. It is not a system of moral conduct. It is the life of Christ in a man's soul. Salvation is the work of God in a man's heart. The conviction of sin, repentance, faith, and, worship are all works of the heart. The kingdom of God is not in meat and drink, things of the body; but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. These are things of the heart. There is no responsibility placed upon the shoulders of a believer of greater importance than the keeping and proper government of his heart in all conditions, by faith in Christ the Lord.  If we truly learn to guard our hearts, this practice will bring the beauty of holiness into our lives, and sweeten our spirits with the grace of heaven. (see here for more detail on "the heart")

John Flavel wisely observed that

The greatest difficulty in conversion is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion is to keep the heart with God.

John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress, like Ezra was consumed with the study of God’s Word. C H Spurgeon read Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress every year on one occasion remarking that...

He had studied our Authorized Version... till his whole being was saturated with Scripture; and through his writings... he … [makes] us feel and say ‘Why, this man is living Bible! Prick him anywhere; and you will find that his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his soul is full of the Word of God.’

><>><>><>

If a Christian is careless in Bible reading,
He will care less about Christian living.

TO STUDY THE LAW OF THE LORD: (Ezra 7:6; Psalms 1:2; Ps 19:7; 119:45,96, 87, 98, 99, 100)

See Related Topics:

Inductive Bible study
Observation of the Word of God
Interpretation of the Word of God

KJV = seek, a word which conveys the idea of searching for what is lost (cp "paradise lost"), in context describing man's quest for God and what can only be obtained from Him. Seeking necessitates diligent effort in order to obtain. In regard to the Scripture the goals are to obtain the truth about God and the truth about man and then walk in light of that truth as Ezra did.

I'm not sure if R A Torrey's percentages are correct but there is still some convicting truth in his assessment that...

 

Ninety-nine Christians in every hundred are merely playing at Bible study; and therefore ninety-nine Christians in every hundred are merely weaklings when they might be giants.

 

J. I. Packer is surely correct when says that...

 

If I were the devil, one of my first aims would be to stop folk from digging into the Bible.

Alan Redpath (past pastor at Moody Bible Church) once advised believers to "wreck" their Bible every 10 years!  Do you use your Bible every day until it eventually falls apart?

 

Give me the insight, Lord,
As I read Your Word today,
So I will truly understand
Your message and Your way.
—Monroe

Francis Bacon said...

 

Let no man think or maintain that a man can search too far or be too well studied in the book of God's word or in the book of God's works. (Amen!)

 

Christian author Jerry Bridges writes that...

As we search the Scriptures, we must allow them to search us, to sit in judgement upon our character and conduct.

A W Pink speaking of the work of Bible Study wrote that...

No verse of Scripture yields its meaning to lazy people.

Bob Smith in his practical book Basics of Bible Interpretation writes that...

God wants everyone to be able to understand the Bible, for its message is essentially how we can have and enjoy the greatest kind of life, free from the futility of pointlessness, free from the limitations of our human, earthly thought patterns, free from the fear of death and dying. Not everyone understands it this way. In fact, many are so convinced they can't understand the Bible that they never give it a second look. It's strange how we will study most any other subject with diligence only to have the acquired knowledge perish with us. But the words of the Bible are words of life!

Search the Scripture's precious store
As a miner digs for ore;
Search, and you will surely find
Treasures to enrich your mind. 
–Anonymous

Study (01875) (darash)  is a Hebrew verb which conveys the sense of seeking with care, of inquiring, of pursuing or of searching, each of these activities giving us a good picture of how Ezra approached the law of the LORD. The Septuagint (LXX) uses the verb "zeteo" (see Mt 6:33-note) which conveys the idea of attempting to learn something by careful investigation or searching (cf Proverbs 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

In David's initial encounter with Bathsheba we find an interesting use of darash that helps give us a sense of what it means to "study" something...

So David sent and inquired (darash) about the woman. And one said, "Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" (2Sa 11:3)

Darash for example this word was used when Moses “searched carefully” to find out what happened to the sin offering (Lev 10:16) or when David “inquired” to find out who Bathsheba was (2Samuel 11:3). Ezra studied the Word by carefully searching it (cp notes on the Bereans Acts 17:11), investigating its truths, probing its parts, surveying its whole (see observation), striving to understand its meaning (see Interpretation), being concerned to grasp its message, leaving no stone unturned. He was not content to skim the surface and gain a superficial knowledge of the text.

Darash - 152 verses in NAS - Gen 9:5; 25:22; 42:22; Exod 18:15; Lev 10:16; Deut 4:29; 11:12; 12:5, 30; 13:14; 17:4, 9; 18:11, 19; 19:18; 22:2; 23:6, 21; Judg 6:29; 1 Sam 9:9; 28:7; 2 Sam 11:3; 1 Kgs 14:5; 22:5, 7f; 2 Kgs 1:2f, 6, 16; 3:11; 8:8; 22:13, 18; 1 Chr 10:13f; 13:3; 15:13; 16:11; 21:30; 22:19; 26:31; 28:8f; 2 Chr 1:5; 12:14; 14:4, 7; 15:2, 12f; 16:12; 17:3f; 18:4, 6f; 19:3; 20:3; 22:9; 24:6, 22; 25:15, 20; 26:5; 30:19; 31:9, 21; 32:31; 34:3, 21, 26; Ezra 4:2; 6:21; 7:10; 9:12; 10:16; Esth 10:3; Job 3:4; 5:8; 10:6; 39:8; Ps 9:10, 12; 10:4, 13, 15; 14:2; 22:26; 24:6; 34:4, 10; 38:12; 53:2; 69:32; 77:2; 78:34; 105:4; 109:10; 111:2; 119:2, 10, 45, 94, 155; 142:4; Prov 11:27; 31:13; Eccl 1:13; Isa 1:17; 8:19; 9:13; 11:10; 16:5; 19:3; 31:1; 34:16; 55:6; 58:2; 62:12; 65:1, 10; Jer 8:2; 10:21; 21:2; 29:7, 13; 30:14, 17; 37:7; 38:4; Lam 3:25; Ezek 14:3, 7, 10; 20:1, 3, 31, 40; 33:6; 34:6, 8, 10f; 36:37; Hos 10:12; Amos 5:4ff, 14; Mic 6:8; Zeph 1:6

NAS = ask(1), avenge(1), calls(1), care(1), cares(3), comes the reckoning(1), consult(2), consulted by them at all(1), demand(1), inquire(33), inquired(5), inquirer(1), investigate(3), investigated(1), looks(2), making inquiry(1), questioned(1), require(7), required(1), requires(1), resort(3), search(6), searched(1), searched carefully(1), searches(2), seek(53), seek after(1), seeking(2), seeks(3), sought(18), studied(1), study(1), surely require(1).

German theologian Johann Bengel (1687-1752) aptly described Ezra (and his kind) as...

like a maker of a well who brings no water to his source but allows the water he finds there to flow freely without stoppage, diversion, or defilement.

In his studies of the Scriptures, Ezra undoubtedly followed Thomas Watson's exhortation to...

Leave not off reading the Bible till you find your hearts warmed. Let it not only inform you but inflame you.

Regarding the pastor's (and all believers') need to focus on the pure milk of the Word, Puritan Richard Baxter explained how this truth finally dawned on him writing that...

Till at last, being by my sickness cast far from home, where I had no book but my Bible, I set to study the truth from thence, and so, by the blessing of God, discovered more in one week than I had done before in seventeen years’ reading, hearing, and wrangling.

John Piper wisely warns all who proclaim God's Word that...

We must beware of the temptation to replace the study of Scripture with the reading of good books about the Scripture. If you want to know if a man has studied well, don’t ask him to show you his library. Ask him to show you his personal notebooks where he has recorded his own authentic insights into the Word of God.

We make a great mistake when we think that study consists mainly in reading (as commonly understood)—even reading the Bible. Many think they have studied well when they have spent the morning reading through some worthy book of divinity. And thus the measure of our study becomes the number of books that we have read.

But my own conviction is that fruitful study is primarily thinking not reading. My guess is that reading, which was meant to become a stimulus and guide to independent thinking, usually becomes a substitute for it. The evidence for this is how many books we read and how little we write down. Fresh thinking must always be put down on paper to get it clear and preserve it for use. Much reading and little thinking makes for a second-hand pastor. And it is not easy to preach and teach second-hand truths with power.

The ministry of the Word is a ministry of study. And the ministry of study should be devoted primarily to the Bible. And the study of the Bible should consist very much in thinking and writing about what it says.

In another writing Piper says...

If we are going to feed our people, we must ever advance in our grasp of Biblical truth. We must be like Jonathan Edwards who resolved in his college days, and kept the resolution all his life,

Resolved: To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same. (The seventy resolutions of the young Edwards are found in Sereno Dwight, Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards, in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1 Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1974, xx–xxi. This is resolution 28 from page xxi.)

(Piper, J. Brothers, we are not professionals : A plea to pastors for radical ministry)

The Law of the LORD - The Law of Jehovah (see study of this great Name of God).

The Law (08451) (torah) means basically "teaching" and in simple terms represent God's instructions to His people regarding how they should live, especially how they should live in covenant with a holy God. The torah was to saturate one's total way of life, permeating every decision, every thought, etc. The torah was given to make known the way men should walk or conduct their lives.

Ezra's "Bible"  would have been  the first five books (the Pentateuch) and the Book of Joshua, which was in existence in his day.

God, motivated by love, reveals to man basic insights into how to live with each other and how to approach God. Through the law God shows His interest in all aspects of man's life which is to be lived under His direction and care. The Law of God stands parallel to Word of the Lord to signify that law is the revelation of God's will. In this capacity the Law became the nation of Israel's wisdom and understanding so that the pagans would marvel at the quality of Israel's distinctive life style (cp Deut 4:6).

The psalmist's attitude toward the Law in Psalm 119:97 surely reflected Ezra's heart attitude...

O how I love Thy law!
It is my meditation all the day.

He loves so much that he must express his love, and in making the attempt he perceives that it is inexpressible. We obey the law out of love, and even when it chides us for disobedience we love it none the less. It is my meditation all the day. He meditated on God’s Word because he loved it, and then loved it the more because he meditated in it. In his worldly business he still kept his mind saturated with the law of the Lord. Familiarity with the Word of God breeds affection, and affection seeks yet greater familiarity. When thy law and my meditation are together all the day, the day grows holy, devout, and happy, and the heart lives with God. (See Spurgeon's complete note) (See related topics - Biblical Meditation <> Primer of Biblical Meditation <> Quiet Musing by Spurgeon)

Amy Carmichael gives us a good caution for our day when more Christian books are being published then at any other time in the history of the world...

Never let good books take the place of the Bible. Drink from the Well, not from the streams that flow from the Well. (Amen and amen!)

Martin Luther wrote that...

When I was young, I read the Bible over and over and over again, and was so perfectly acquainted with it, that I could, in an instant, have pointed to any verse that might have been mentioned.

Luther also wrote

For a number of years I have now annually read through the Bible twice. If the Bible were a large, mighty tree and all its words were little branches, I have tapped at all the branches, eager to know what was there and what it had to offer.

Luther is reported to have said concerning his own study of the Scriptures that...

I study my Bible as I gather apples. First, I shake the whole tree that the ripest might fall. Then I shake each limb, and when I have shaken each limb, I shake each branch and every twig. Then I look under every leaf. I shake the Bible as a whole, like shaking the whole tree. Then I shake every limb—study book after book. Then I shake every branch, giving attention to the chapters when they do not break the sense. Then I shake every twig, or a careful study of the paragraphs and sentences and words and their meanings. (Ed: Sounds like he practiced the discipline of inductive Bible study).

John Piper writes,

At the heart of every pastor’s work is bookwork. Call it reading, meditation, reflection, cogitation, study, exegesis, or whatever you will—a large and central part of our work is to wrestle God’s meaning from a book, and then to proclaim it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

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The best thing to do with the Bible is to know it in the head, stow it in the heart, sow it in the world, and show it in the life.

AND TO PRACTICE IT: (Deuteronomy 16:12; Matthew 5:19-note; Matthew 7:24-note; John 13:17; Revelation 22:14 -note)  (cp 1Timothy 4:12-note, 1Timothy 4:16; Titus 2:7 -note).

In John Jesus emphasizes the importance of applying truth received and the result of such application...

If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. (John 7:24)

In Matthew Jesus again emphasizes the importance of obedient application declaring that...

everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. (see note Matthew 7:24)

James wrote of the deception of hearing but not doing and the blessing of seeing and doing...

Prove (present imperative = command to make this your habitual practice - when you hear truth obey it without delay for delay is disobedience) yourselves doers (poietes - performers but like those who are actors for that would define a hypocrite) of the word, and not merely hearers (Greek word = hose who sat passively in an audience and listened to a singer or speaker - like one who audits a college class, but which they are not required to do outside study, etc and are not held accountable for what they hear) who delude (fascinating word - paralogizomai from para = beside + logizomai = reason - means to reason besides oneself - and so to betray oneself by false reasoning) themselves. (see note James 1:22)

But (note the striking contrast - for context read v23-24) one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty (Liberty is not the right to do as you please, but the power [grace] to do as you should!), and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer (poietes - same word as v22 - a genuine performer of the Word), this man shall be blessed (fully satisfied independent of the circumstances) in what he does (which was the testimony of Ezra). (see note James 1:25)

See related topic: Application of the Word of God

Study the Bible to be wise
Believe it to be safe
Practise it to be holy

1 Ti 4:16 Pay close attention (present imperative = command to continually paying attention!) to yourself and to your teaching; persevere (present imperative = command to continually paying attention!) in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

Apply yourself to the Scriptures
and
The Scriptures to yourself.

 

Will H. Houghton espoused the Ezra 7:10 approach, encouraging each of us to...

Lay hold on the Bible until the Bible lays hold on (us).

Practice - The Hebrew word for “practice” carries the idea of expending energy in the pursuit of something. Live it out. Let the "rubber meet the road". Put shoe leather to the Scriptural truth taken into your heart.  Unhesitatingly obey the truth learned. And remember that like a compass, the Bible always points you in the right direction.

We see this pattern of studying leading to practice in other passages, for example in the Pentateuch (of which Ezra was well versed) Moses said...

Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, in order that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. (Deut 31:12) In other words...

Hear the word
Learn the word
Fear the LORD
Practice the Word

In the well known passage in Joshua God instructs His young servant leader...

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night (STUDY), so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it (PRACTICE); for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success (EXPERIENCE THE GOOD HAND OF THE LORD!). (Joshua 1:8)

Bible study for Ezra was not merely an intellectual discipline (cp the Pharisee in Jesus' day) but had the goals of life change and discipleship. If our Bible study only makes us smarter sinners, then we are studying for the wrong reason. Our motive should always be to study in such a way that we are transformed from glory to glory, progressively being conformed to the image of our Savior.

Practice it... A good leader is one who...Knows the way, Goes the way, and Shows the way. Knowing without doing is arrogance not obedience.

A good pattern for ministry -- learn it, live it, and let it out.

How interesting to hear the "wisdom" of one of the secular world's esteemed "scribes", George Bernard Shaw, who once said...

He who can, does. He who cannot teaches.

Shaw clearly did not know about the life of the esteemed Jewish scribe Ezra and why he had experienced the good hand of God!

In his article in Master's Seminary Journal (volume 2), Richard Mayhue adds that...

When each phase of Ezra’s example is kept completely and ordered correctly, following his threefold commitment will prevent many expositional shortcomings: “Study is saved from unreality, conduct from uncertainty, and teaching from insincerity and shallowness.” [Quoted from Derek Kidner, Ezra and Nehemiah (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1979) 62]

Lawson writes that...

Ezra mastered the Word, but more importantly the Word mastered him. And so his careful study led to a holy life. His personal integrity became the platform from which he carried out his public teaching ministry. What Ezra learned in the Scriptures, he lived out in his daily life. (The Pattern of Biblical Preaching BSac 158:632 Oct 01 p. 461)

Of great significance is the fact that Ezra’s reading and exposition was used by God to catalyze a revival. Why? Well, one reason surely was because the good hand of the LORD was upon him!

Ezra obeyed the Word with the same “heart” devotion with which he studied it. In striking contrast were the scribes in Jesus’ day who sought to follow the Law from the head but not from the heart. With full heads but empty hearts, they attempted to teach the Word, but Jesus saw their hearts and declared

This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me (Mt 15:8).

Ezra, however, was a scribe who wholeheartedly kept the Word, not with mere external ritual or empty routine like the scribes and Pharisees, but from his heart.

Moody rightly said that...

God did not give us the Scriptures to increase our knowledge but to change our lives

Tozer was even more blunt declaring that...

Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action.

Thomas Adams had a picturesque description writing that...

True obedience has no lead at its heels.

Thomas Brooks wrote

No man obeys God truly who does not endeavor to obey God fully.

Lorne Sanny rightly said that...

Luke summarizes his Gospel this way: "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach" (Acts 1:1, emphasis mine). Jesus' deeds matched His words and His words matched His deeds. Often His teaching was merely the explanation of a deed. Doing preceded teaching.

When the apostles returned from a ministry trip, they reported "all they had done and taught" (Mark 6:30, emphasis mine).

We who speak and teach must be careful. We are asked to speak on a topic, but that topic has not been part of our doing. So we gather Bible verses and quotes from books, and our message becomes book-born, not life-born.

Ezra prepared his heart "to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach" (Ezra 7:10, NKJV). To go straight from the study to the platform without the theme having gone through our lives is perilous—for us and for the audience.

E. Stanley Jones wrote concerning teaching that is divorced from doing:

The Word doesn't take shoes and walk, it takes wings and flies, over their heads. It is transcendental, but not transforming. It is geared into ideas, but not into life. Hence those interested in living pass it by.

Paul's response on the Damascus road was not, "What shall I preach on, Lord?" but rather, "What shall I do, Lord?" The doing would then authenticate his preaching.

All good teaching and preaching is essentially testimony—not of what we've done for God, but of what God has done for us when we've obeyed Him. To preach only what you practice limits the range, but it does increase the power (see note
1Thessalonians 1:5). (Discipleship Journal) (Bolding added)

Lawson sums up Ezra's obedience writing that...

The one who brings the Word must bow first before the Word and fully keep it. Selective obedience is no obedience. Partial obedience is nothing more than disguised disobedience. To be compelling in the pulpit, preachers must be complete in obedience. The Pattern of Biblical Preaching BSac 158:632 Oct 01 p. 461)

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Warning: Bible study can be habit-forming. Putting the principles into practice can cause loss of anxiety, decreased appetite for lying, cheating, stealing, hating and "symptoms" of growing sensations of love, peace, joy, compassion.

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Mom's Translation - Four pastors were discussing the merits of the various translations of the Bible. One liked a particular version best because of its simple, beautiful English. Another preferred a more scholarly edition because it was closer to the original Hebrew and Greek. Still another liked a contemporary version because of its up-to-date vocabulary.

The fourth minister was silent for a moment, then said, "I like my mother's translation best." Surprised, the other three men said they didn't know his mother had translated the Bible. "Yes," he replied. "She translated it into life, and it was the most convincing translation I ever saw."

Instead of discussing translation preferences, this pastor reminded them that the most important focus should be learning God's Word and doing it. That was the top priority of Ezra's life. As a scribe, he studied the Law, obeyed it, and taught it to the Israelites (Ezra 7:10). For example, God commanded His people not to intermarry with neighboring nations who served pagan gods (Ezra 9:1-2). Ezra confessed the nation's sin to God (Ezra 9:10-12) and corrected the people, who then repented (Ezra 10:10-12).

Let's follow Ezra's example by seeking the Word of God and translating it into life. —Anne Cetas (
Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

When we take time to read God's Word,
Our heart is filled with pleasure;
So let's relate the truth we've heard-
With others share the treasure. -Hess

The best commentary on the Bible
is a person who puts it into practice.

Howard Hendricks had it right when he said that..
.

The Bible was not written to satisfy your curiosity, but to make you conform to Christ’s image. Not to make you a smarter sinner, but to make you like the Savior. Not to fill your head with a collection of biblical facts, but to transform your life. (Living by the Book)

Hendricks went on to add that...

 

Dusty Bibles lead to dirty lives. In fact, you are either in the Word and the Word is conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ, or you are in the world and the world is squeezing you into its mold. (ibid)

 

The Bible gives us all we need
To live our lives for God each day;
But it won't help if we don't read
And follow what its pages say
-Sper

Backsliders begin with dusty Bibles
and end with filthy garments.
C H Spurgeon

AND TO TEACH HIS STATUTES AND ORDINANCES IN ISRAEL: (Ezra 7:25; Deuteronomy 33:10; 2Chronicles 17:8,9; 30:22; Nehemiah 8:1-9; Malachi 2:7; Acts 1:1; 1Timothy 3:2; 2Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:1,15)

May Ezra's tribe increase!

Teach (03925) (lamad) conveys the idea of training as well as educating. Biblical teaching seeks to guide people to follow the will of God, not by offering mere human opinions or suggestions but by bringing “the authoritative declaration of the Word of God.

If you don’t have a man who is living the Word, then you don’t have a man who can teach the Word. You cannot (and should not) teach what you are not living.

Lamad - 80 verses in NAS - Deut 4:1, 5, 10, 14; 5:1, 31; 6:1; 11:19; 14:23; 17:19; 18:9; 20:18; 31:12f, 19, 22; Judg 3:2; 2 Sam 1:18; 22:35; 1 Chr 5:18; 25:7; 2 Chr 17:7, 9; Ezra 7:10; Job 21:22; Ps 18:34; 25:4f, 9; 34:11; 51:13; 60:1; 71:17; 94:10, 12; 106:35; 119:7, 12, 26, 64, 66, 68, 71, 73, 99, 108, 124, 135, 171; 132:12; 143:10; 144:1; Prov 5:13; 30:3; Eccl 12:9; Song 3:8; 8:2; Isa 1:17; 2:4; 26:9f; 29:13, 24; 40:14; 48:17; Jer 2:33; 9:5, 14, 20; 10:2; 12:16; 13:21; 31:18, 34; 32:33; Ezek 19:3, 6; Dan 1:4; Hos 10:11; Mic 4:3.

NAS renders Lamad -  accept(1), expert(1), instruct(1), instructors(1), learn(15), learned(5), really learn(1), skillful(1), taught(15), teach(30), teachers(1), teaches(3), teaching(1), teaching and again(1), train(1), trained(2), trains(3), untrained*(1).

Jesus' parting command to His disciples and by way of application to believers today still rings true in regard to the importance of teaching what you learn to others...

Go therefore and make (aorist imperative = this is the only command in His commission) disciples (learners) of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Mt 28:16-18)

The Septuagint (LXX) translates the Hebrew verb for teach with didasko (from dáo= know or teach) which means to provide instruction in a formal or informal setting. The present tense pictures Biblical teaching as a continual, even lifelong process. Continually teaching the saints is especially the responsibility of church leaders for as Paul wrote “An overseer, then, must be…able to teach” (1Timothy 3:2). Why must we continually teach sound, Biblical doctrine? Simply put, heresy flourishes when sound doctrine fades! The idea of didasko is to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them by word of mouth (tutor, direct, advise, put in mind). In the NT almost without exception didasko refers to the teaching of groups.  Didasko means to teach a student in such a way that the will of the student becomes conformed to the teaching taught (which is why it is vital to make sure the Word of God is rightly divided). The teacher teaches in such a way that as the student is taught, he or she now changes their mind saying in essence ''I won't do it this way, but I will do it this way because I've learned this Biblical doctrine or this Biblical truth.'' Doctrine determines the direction of our behavior -- we need to ask ourselves are we being conformed to the world or transformed and conformed into the image of the Son of God?

Pastor Steven Cole (Read entire sermon) rightly observes that...

not everyone is gifted to teach in a public setting. But whatever you have gleaned from God’s Word and incorporated into your daily life ought to be passed on to others whom God puts in your circle of influence. If you teach others what you know in your head but do not practice in your life, you become like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day—hypocrites. This does not mean that you must be perfect before you teach God’s Word, but it does call for the integrity of admitting your shortcomings and the honest effort to apply it to yourself.

One of the occupational hazards of preaching God’s Word  each week is that I can easily fall into the trap of studying the Word so that I can tell everyone else how they should live, but not applying it to myself.

I often think of what John Calvin said,

It would be better for the preacher to break his neck going into the pulpit than for him not to be the first to follow God (cited by J. I. Packer, in a sermon in Anaheim, California, 3/5/86).

Or, as Charles Spurgeon put it,

If any man’s life at home is unworthy, he should go several miles away before he stands up to preach, and then, when he stands up, he should say nothing. (The Soul Winner [Eerdmans], p. 174).

Stott suggests that in Ezra 7:10 teaching means...

to open the inspired text with such faithfulness and sensitivity that God’s voice is heard and His people obey Him.

Many preachers bear more resemblance to entertainers than expositors, stand-up comics rather than knee-shaking servants. God-fearing, Scripture-reverencing men remain the need of the hour in pulpits today.

As A T Robertson once quipped...

One proof of the inspiration of the Bible is that it has withstood so much poor preaching.

John Knox, the great Scottish Reformer said

I have never once feared the devil, but I tremble every time I enter the pulpit.

Where are the men like Knox, who tremble when they open the Word of God? God is ever looking for such men, declaring in Isaiah...

For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being," declares the LORD. "But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word." (Isaiah 66:2, cp Isa 66:5)

In later chapters Ezra writes...

Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel on account of the unfaithfulness of the exiles gathered to me, and I sat appalled until the evening offering. (Ezra 9:4)

So now let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. (Ezra 10:3)

Statues (02706) and ordinances (04941) - The scribes in the early years at the time of Ezra and before were so devoted to not putting an error in the Scriptures that they would copy the Scriptures with such fastidiousness it is beyond belief. Some scribes would write one letter, take a bath, change their clothes, get a new pen, write another letter, take a bath, change their clothes, get a pen, write another letter. They didn't get a lot done but what they got done was correct. There was a tremendous fastidiousness to the completion of the inerrant text and its preservation.

This comprehensive threefold designation—the Law of the Lord, statutes, and ordinances—indicates that he studied all facets of God’s Word. Tradition says he was the founder of the Great Synagogue where the Old Testament canon was first recognized. A number of scholars feel Ezra is the author of Psalm 119 which deals with the Word of God in virtually all 176 verses.

In Nehemiah we see an example of Ezra teaching the Word...

And Ebzra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up (sign of reverence and humility). Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands (A symbol of receiving God's blessing); then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground (in reverence, awe, and adoration). Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, explained the law to the people while the people remained in their place. And they read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading. (Nehemiah 8:5-8)

When one considers the role of Ezra (and those like him in our modern church), to be sure, every person is important to God and God’s work; but, as Dr. Lee Roberson said...

Everything rises and falls with leadership.

McConville has written

The model teacher in Ezra is a doer. And the doer can be no mere demonstrator. He must be what he would have his disciples be. (Ed: "Doer" not in the sense of "busyness" but in the sense of practicing what he preaches.)

Every preacher should follow Ezra’s example and be committed to the study of the Scriptures in a way that is consuming, careful, and comprehensive. Pastors must guard their hearts against the seemingly endless, mounting pressures placed on them to sacrifice the study of the Word of God upon the "altar" of their growing list of "priorities." The day the preacher ceases to diligently study God’s Word, whether he realizes it or not, is the day he begins losing spiritual passion and power in his preaching.

Shrinking study time in the Scriptures
will result in
Shrinking power in the pulpit!

Billy Graham was asked,

If you had to live your life over again, what would you do differently?

His answer might surprise you...

One of my great regrets is that I have not studied enough, I wish I had studied more and preached less. People have pressured me into speaking to groups when I should have been studying and preparing.

Donald Grey Barnhouse said that if he knew the Lord was coming in three years, he would spend two of them studying and one preaching!

The modern church desperately needs more men like John Wesley, the Spirit anointed eighteenth-century preacher who was so passionate for the Word of God (Brethren, could this have anything to do with His "Spirit anointing"?) that he once crying out...

O give me that Book!
At any price, give me the book of God.

Tony Bell writes that...

Greatness in the Kingdom of God can start nowhere else than with a deep commitment to the Word of God. Several times throughout the book of Ezra the writer points out that "the good hand of his God was on him." The reason? "For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel" (Ezra 7:10). Even King Artaxerxes, ruler of the vast empire where Ezra lived, recognized the source of Ezra's strength and greatness. In a letter to Ezra (Ezra 7:11–26), he instructed him "to inquire about Judah and Jerusalem with regard to the Law of your God, which is in your hand" (Ezra 7:14). He addressed Ezra in the same letter as "a teacher of the Law of the God of heaven" (Ezra 7:21), and he credited Ezra with "the wisdom of your God" (Ezra 7:25). The source of Ezra's greatness lay in his love for the Scriptures, his absolute commitment to them, and his passion for teaching them.

But what does it mean to be devoted to the Word of God? It means that the Bible becomes the standard for our lives. The norms of the Scriptures are the norms that we live by, and we dedicate ourselves to finding out what those norms are. We commit ourselves to study the Bible and to fellowship with like-minded people. We look for people who can help us and teach us how to incorporate the Scriptures into our lives. We learn its principles and memorize its words. We pray over it and dialogue with its Author. Like Jeremiah, we "devour" its words. And like Ezra, who "set his heart to teach its decrees and laws in Israel," we seek to transmit to others the importance and the authority of the Scriptures, both by our lives and by our words. (Discipleship Journal) (Bolding added).

The Bible...
Read it through
Work it out
Pass it on!

Because of its relevance to the Ezra 7:10 principle, below is the entire sermon  The Ministry of the Word by Dr John Piper...
 

I want us to ponder for a few minutes the significance of the ministry of the Word.

 

The Significance of the Ministry of the Word


In Acts 6:1-6 the Greek-speaking Jewish widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. This pressing need clamored for the apostles’ attention. But the twelve said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.” So they appointed seven men to take care of this need, and the apostles said, “We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”


So from the very earliest time in the church it was understood that the ministry of the Word required so much time and effort that those called to this ministry should be freed from other demands.


Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:17–18, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching; for the scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The laborer deserves his wages.’ ” In other words the church should value the ministry of the Word so highly that it is willing to pay elders who devote their life to it.


This is an ongoing office in the church, not a temporary function of the apostles. When Christ ascended into heaven, it says in
Ephesians 4:11 (see note)

 

his gifts were that some should be pastor-teachers.

 

This is an office distinct from the rest of the people in the church, because it says that the pastor-teachers are to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.


So we can conclude that the New Testament prescribes for the church that there be some people set apart for the ministry of the Word, and that these elders or pastor-teachers devote their main life-efforts to this ministry and be supported by the church.


Steve Roy has been called to this ministry, and we are now setting him apart for it. We do well to ponder just what this ministry is. Perhaps we will come to value it more highly and pray for it more fervently. And perhaps some among us will feel the call of God this very night into the ministry of the Word.


What the Ministry of the Word Is


I only have time to mention four things:


1. The ministry of the Word is a ministry of study.
2. The ministry of the Word is a ministry of prayer.
3. The ministry of the Word is a ministry of suffering.
4. The ministry of the Word is a ministry of joy.


1. The ministry of the Word is a ministry of study.


The life of the church hangs on the word of God (Matthew 4:4). And that inspired word has come to us in the form of a book written in Greek and Hebrew. None of us comes into the world able to read, let alone read Greek and Hebrew. These things must be learned. And they must be learned by study.


And even when they are learned, they only become fruitful when used like mining tools to dig out the gold and silver of Scripture. And the only way to dig is to study. The good hand of the Lord was upon Ezra, the Scripture says, because he

 

had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach his statutes and ordinances in Israel (Ezra 7:9-10).

 

And Paul tells Timothy to be zealous to present himself to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed because he rightly handles the word of truth (see note 2 Timothy 2:15).


Books About the Bible and the Bible


And let it be emphasized that with all the good and bad books on theology the ministry of study should always remain primarily a study of the Bible, and that in the original languages. Philip Lindsay, a professor at Princeton in the last century used to say, “One of the best preparations for death is a thorough knowledge of the Greek grammar.” Which is simply a very pointed way of saying that pastor-teachers should do their duty and that intellectual labor in the New Testament is rewarded with real life and death truth.


Richard Baxter wrote something that could save many young pastors years of regret in misdirected study. He said,

 

Till at last, being by my sickness cast far from home, where I had no book but my Bible, I set to study the truth from thence, and so, by the blessing of God, discovered more in one week than I had done before in seventeen years’ reading, hearing, and wrangling

 

We must beware of the temptation to replace the study of Scripture with the reading of good books about the Scripture. If you want to know if a man has studied well, don’t ask him to show you his library. Ask him to show you his personal notebooks where he has recorded his own authentic insights into the Word of God.


Reading and Thinking


We make a great mistake when we think that study consists mainly in reading (as commonly understood)—even reading the Bible. Many think they have studied well when they have spent the morning reading through some worthy book of divinity. And thus the measure of our study becomes the number of books that we have read.


But my own conviction is that fruitful study is primarily thinking not reading. My guess is that reading, which was meant to become a stimulus and guide to independent thinking, usually becomes a substitute for it. The evidence for this is how many books we read and how little we write down. Fresh thinking must always be put down on paper to get it clear and preserve it for use. Much reading and little thinking makes for a second-hand pastor. And it is not easy to preach and teach second-hand truths with power.


The ministry of the Word is a ministry of study. And the ministry of study should be devoted primarily to the Bible. And the study of the Bible should consist very much in thinking and writing about what it says.


Relevancy and the Power of Scripture


Nor should such a student of Scripture fret about the cry for relevancy. The faithful study and teaching of God’s Word will do more to change the world than anyone imagines. J.C. Ryle wrote,

 

To the influence of the Bible we owe nearly every humane and charitable institution in existence. The sick, the poor, the aged, the orphan, the lunatic, the idiot, the blind, were seldom or never thought of before the Bible leavened the world. You may search in vain for any record of institutions for their aid in the histories of Athens or of Rome. Alas, many sneer at the Bible, and say the world would get on well enough without it, who little think how great are their own obligations to the Bible.

 

2. The ministry of the Word is a ministry of prayer.


Benjamin Warfield, a great evangelical theologian who died in 1921, wrote in 1911 about the kind of criticism that comes to those who believe in much study. Someone said to him that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books.

 

“What,” he replied, “more than ten hours over your books on your knees?”

 

Recruiting officers do not dispute whether it is better for soldiers to have a right leg or a left leg: soldiers should have both legs.


Study and Prayer


The minister of the Word must not choose between study and prayer. Study without prayer is the work of pride. Prayer without study is presumption. This is what the Proverbs teach:

 

If you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding (that’s prayer), and if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures (that’s study), then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:3-5)

 

Prayer humbles the heart and gives it the tone of Christ and makes it ready and open and sensitive to the truth of Scripture. But it is study that brings in the truth and fills the heart with joy and power.


Meeting the Almighty God


The ministry of the Word is a ministry of prayer because in prayer the minister meets God and has real living dealings with the Almighty so that his preaching and teaching have the aroma of God about them. The ministry of the Word must be a ministry of earnestness and intensity, and where are these to be found if not in our private meetings with God where you learn to know if you are real or just playing games?


One great Baptist pastor, Hezekiah Harvey, put it like this in 1879

 

Moral earnestness can never be assumed; it is the attribute only of a soul profoundly feeling the power and reality of divine truth. The man, therefore, who would speak God’s word with the pungency and fervor of a Bunyan, a Baxter, a Flavel, or a Payson must, like them, be constant and fervent in prayer. The springs of spiritual life opened in the closet will pour forth never-failing streams of life in the pulpit.

 

Without much prayer all the study in the world will leave us shallow and lean. Without prayer there creeps in what Richard Cecil called the

 

low, managing, contriving, maneuvering temper of mind among us.


E. M. Bounds is right when he says,

 

What the Church needs today is not more machinery or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use— men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer.


3. The ministry of the Word is a ministry of suffering.


The Bible is God’s artillery in the war against sin and Satan. And when you get recruited for the artillery, you can count on being wounded.


Listen to Paul’s second letter to Timothy.

 

2 Timothy 1:8 (note) “Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God.”


2 Timothy 1:11 (note) “For this gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, and therefore I suffer as I do.”


2 Timothy 2:3 (note) “Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”

 

Soldiers in the War Effort


It belongs to soldiers to suffer for the war effort. No soldier in conflict expects things to be easy or comfortable. When God calls us into the ministry of the Word, he recruits us into front-line artillery action. It is not a safe place to be.


But strangely enough it is the place Paul wants to be. He said in Philippians that he counted everything as loss that he might

 

know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and might share his sufferings becoming like him in his death. (see note Philippians 3:10)

 

Paul attained a powerful authenticity in carrying Christ’s word because he chose to walk in Christ’s way. He said at the end of Galatians,

 

Henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

 

When you have been wounded in the service of the Word of Christ and have not gone AWOL or hated your enemy, there comes a new certainty and depth and power.


Therefore every minister of the Word should say with the apostle Paul,

 

I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus.

 

4. The ministry of the Word is a ministry of joy.


I sometimes think of the dozens of vocational options that lie open before me. I could go to a professional referral service and take a battery of tests to check my aptitude and then enter some management training course. Or I could go back to school and try medicine where I started, or perhaps law where my freshman aptitude tests said I was supposed to go.


Or could I? Not any more than I choose to dislike Pamela Rowe’s Mississippi Mud Cake. I am a Christian Hedonist. I am enslaved to the joy of the ministry of the Word.


I say with Paul,

 

But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. (see note Philippians 2:17)

 

Paul reminded the pastor-teachers of Ephesus that in the ministry of the Word it is always more blessed to give than to receive. And to the Thessalonians he wrote,

 

For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy. (see note 1Thessalonians 2:19)

 

There is no better way to spend a brief life on this little earth than to spend it in the ministry of the Word.


• Because here what you study is the endless terrain of the infinite glory of God.


• The one you pray to is the majestic Sovereign whose hand no one can stay.


• What you suffer is for the highest Cause in the universe.


• And what you enjoy is the very delight of God in his Son and in those he died to save.

 

(The Ministry of the Word)

Teach (1321) (didasko from dáo= know or teach; English = didactic; see study of related noun didaskalia and the adjective didaktikos) means to provide instruction or information in a formal or informal setting.

In the 97 NT uses of didasko the meaning is virtually always to teach or instruct, although the purpose and content of the teaching must be determined from the context.

John MacArthur writes that didasko

refers to the passing on of information-often, but not necessarily, in a formal setting. It focused on content, with the purpose of discovering the truth-contrary to the forums so popular among Greeks, where discussion and the bantering about of various ideas and opinions was the primary concern (see Acts 17:21). Synagogue teaching, as illustrated by that of Jesus, was basically expository. Scripture was read and explained section by section, often verse by verse. (MacArthur, J: Matthew 1-7 Chicago: Moody Press or Logos)

In another source MacArthur writes that didasko (and related words)

In all the various forms, the root meaning carries with it the idea of systematic teaching or systematic training. It is the word that is used to refer to a choir director who trains a choir over a long period of rehearsals until they are able to perform. The gift of prophecy could be a one-time proclamation of Christ, but the gift of teaching is a systematic training problem to take a person from one point to another. What is the curriculum for the teacher? The Bible, the Word of God. The gift is to teach systematically the truth of God.

It can be used with men—one on one, one on two, one on three, one on five thousand. It can be used with women—one on one, one on two, one on three, one on five thousand. It can be used by a lady in a little group of children. It can be used by a mother to a son. It can be used by a husband to his wife. It can be used in any conceivable way that the Spirit of God desires. It is the ability to pass on truth in a systematic progression so that someone receives it, implements it, and a change of behavior takes place. In fact, it is a gift that belongs to a lot more of us than we realize. (MacArthur, J. Spiritual Gifts. Includes index. Chicago: Moody Press)

In Scripture to teach means to pass on the truth about the Word of God, the God of the Word and the faith of the saints, with the goal of influencing the understanding and stimulating obedience to the truth taught and resultant Spirit energized transformation and Christ-likeness. The essence of a disciple in fact is that he or she is a learner. The teacher teaches and the disciple hears and processes what is heard so that this truth affects his or her innermost being. Ultimately the purpose of didasko is to shape the will of the one taught.

To teach means to cause to know, to help one to learn, to impart knowledge or skill, or to carry out the activity of instructing by precept or by practice.

To teach is distinguished from to preach, the latter emphasizing the proclamation of the gospel to the non-Christian world. Teaching of sound doctrine is vital to stability of one's faith and spiritual growth and stability of one's faith, this vital role being clearly validated by our Lord Jesus Christ who was called Rabbi or Teacher more than any other name -- in fact the some 45 of the 58 NT uses of the Greek word for teacher (didaskalos) are used of Jesus (most of these referring to public teaching). In addition 47 of 97 occurrences of didasko are used in the Gospels to describe the activity of Jesus.

Teaching was also a primary  activity of the leaders of the early church. (see passages below from Acts)

Rengstorf  notes that didasko...

Common from Homer, this word denotes teaching and learning in the wide sense of imparting theoretical and practical knowledge with the highest possible development of the pupil as the goal. There is little religious use, and the term has a strong intellectual and authoritative bearing. Thus it can also mean “to demonstrate.” When used in connection with choral training, it comes almost to have the sense “to perform.”...

A novel feature in the Gospels is the absence of the intellectual emphasis which is common everywhere else among Greek writers (classical, postclassical, Hellenistic, and even Jewish Hellenistic), and which develops in rabbinic exegesis in an effort to check the disintegrating force of Hellenism, so that in some circles studying the law can be ranked higher than doing it. In this respect Jesus with his total claim represents what is perhaps a truer fulfilment of the OT concept. (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W.  Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans)

NIDNTT writes that didasko...

comes from di-dak-sko (root dek-, to accept, extend the hand to). The reduplicated stem and inchoative suffix convey the idea of repeatedly extending the hand for acceptance; the word therefore suggests the idea of causing someone to accept something. It occurs frequently in Greek from Homer onwards, and in the active voice means to teach, inform, instruct, demonstrate, prescribe; in the passive to be instructed, be taught; in the middle to learn for oneself, to think out, to master. In the active the word occurs chiefly with the accusative of the person (to teach someone) or with the accusative of the thing (to teach something), but also with the dative.

It is clear that the word is used typically for the relationship between teacher and pupil, instructor and apprentice. What is taught may be knowledge, opinions or facts, but also artistic and technical skills, all of which are to be systematically and thoroughly acquired by the learner as a result of the repeated activity of both teacher and pupil.

Herodotus also uses didasko to describe the work of the chorus-master (1, 23; 6, 21). The word is rarely found, however, to describe an activity of the gods. The aim of all teaching is to communicate knowledge and skill with a view to developing the pupil’s abilities.... (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan

William Arthur Ward wrote that...

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The real teacher inspires.

John Milton (1608-74) summarized the importance of teaching when he wrote

The end of all learning is to know God, and out of that knowledge to love and imitate Him.

Spurgeon

What gracious lessons some of us have learned at sick beds. We went to teach the Scriptures; we came away blushing that we knew so little of them. In our converse with poor saints we are taught the way of God more perfectly for ourselves and get a deeper insight into divine truth.

You must serve God with a single eye to the glory of God. If you attend a prayer-meeting, or teach a class, or preach a sermon, you must not do it with a view to your own selves in any way, or it cannot be accepted.

We must teach more by our example than by our advice, or else we shall be poor pleaders for the right.

Here are the 78 uses of didasko in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) (Deut 4:1, 10, 14; 5:31; 6:1; 11:19; 20:18; 31:19, 22; 32:44; Jdg. 3:2; 2 Sam. 1:18; 22:35; 1Chr. 5:18; 25:7; 2Chr. 17:7, 9; Ezra 7:10; Neh. 8:8; Job 6:24; 8:10; 10:2; 13:23; 21:22; 22:2; 32:8; 33:4, 33; 36:2; 37:19; 42:4; Psalms 18:34, 35; 25:4, 5, 9; 34:11; 51:13; 71:17; 94:10, 12; 119:12, 26, 64, 66, 68, 99, 108, 124, 135, 171; 132:12; 143:10; 144:1; Prov. 1:23; 4:4, 11; 5:13; 6:13; 22:21; 30:3; Eccl. 12:9; Song 3:8; Isa. 9:15; 29:13; 55:12; Jeremiah 9:14, 20; 12:16; 13:21; 31:18, 34; 32:33; Ezek. 44:23; Dan. 1:4; 11:4; 12:4; Hos. 10:11)

The TDNT comments on the OT uses of didasko writing that...

While various kinds of instruction can be meant (cf. 2 Sa 22:35; Dt. 31:19), God’s will is the special object, with a volitional as well as an intellectual reference. God himself, the head of a house, or the righteous may do the teaching. As distinct from secular usage, where the aim is to develop talents, the OT relates teaching to the totality of the person. (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W.  Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans)

Observe the frequent use of didasko in Psalm 119 every verse of this Psalm dealing with the some aspect of God's Word -- although it cannot be proven, it is fascinating that many think Ezra wrote Psalm 119). Notice how the psalmists use the imperative mood (Red = commands) in their prayers - they recognized their dependence of God's teaching and held nothing back in asking Him to teach them! May we as believers today go so boldly before His throne, pleading with ("commanding"!) Him to teach us His ways!

Psalm 25:4 Make me know Thy ways, O LORD; Teach me Thy paths. 5 Lead me in Thy truth and teach (Hebrew = lamad; Lxx = didasko) me, For Thou art the God of my salvation; For Thee I wait all the day...9 He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way.

Psalm 119:66 Teach (Hebrew = lamad; Lxx = didasko) me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe in Thy commandments.

Psalm 143:10 Teach (Hebrew = lamad; Lxx = didasko) me to do Thy will, For Thou art my God; Let Thy good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Psalm 144:1 A Psalm of David. Blessed be the LORD, my rock, Who trains (Hebrew = lamad; Lxx = didasko) my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;

Proverbs 1:23 "Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known (Lxx = didasko) to you.

Isaiah 29:13 (modified from Young's Literal) And the Lord saith: Because drawn near has this people, with its mouth, and with its lips they have honoured Me, and its heart it has put far off from Me, and their fear of Me is (consists of) a precept of men taught (Hebrew = lamad; Lxx = didasko)!

Jeremiah 31:34 "And they shall not teach (Hebrew = lamad; Lxx = didasko)  again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

Jeremiah 32:33 "And they have turned their back to Me, and not their face; though I taught (Hebrew = lamad; Lxx = didasko) them, teaching (Hebrew = lamad; Lxx = didasko) again and again, they would not listen and receive instruction.

Ezekiel 44:23 "Moreover, they shall teach (Hebrew = yarah; Lxx = didasko) My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.

Here are the 97 uses of didasko in the 91 NT verses...

Matthew 4:23 And Jesus was going about in all Galilee, teaching (present tense = continually, His habitual practice, He taught as a lifestyle) in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.

 

Comment: Observe how Jesus coupled teaching with proclamation of the Good News and how these activities took precedence over "signs and wonders". The modern church needs to be careful not to deviate from our Lord's pattern. Note that Whereas didasko relates to explaining a message, whereas proclaiming (kerusso) relates simply to announcing it.

 

Matthew 5:2 (note) (Note Jesus is seated taking the normal posture of the Rabbis while teaching) And opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying (the "Beatitudes")


Matthew 5:19 (note) "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.


Matthew 7:29 (note) for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.


Matthew 9:35 And Jesus was going about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

 

Comment: Observe again as in Mt 4:23 Jesus' pattern.


Matthew 11:1 And it came about that when Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities.

 

Comment: Observe again as in Mt 4:23 Jesus' pattern - "teach and preach".

 

Matthew 13:54 And coming to His home town He began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they became astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom, and these miraculous powers?


Matthew 15:9 'But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'"


Matthew 21:23 And when He had come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him as He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?"


Matthew 22:16 And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any.


Matthew 26:55 At that time Jesus said to the multitudes, "Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me.

 

Comment: Observe it is not His signs and wonders He emphasizes but His teaching.

 

Matthew 28:15 And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.


Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

 

Comment: Context = Matthew 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples (aorist imperative = Do this now! Do it effectively! This is the urgent need!) of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

 

Observe it is not Jesus' signs and wonders which He emphasizes but teaching, and how teaching and obeying the teaching (cp to the "Ezra 710" principle which result in the good hand of the Lord upon his ministry) is His pattern for making disciples!

 

Mark 1:21 And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach.


Mark 1:22 And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching (
present tense = continuously) them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.


Mark 2:13 And He went out again by the seashore; and all the multitude were coming to Him, and He was teaching them.


Mark 4:1 And He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very great multitude gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.


Mark 4:2 And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching,


Mark 6:2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands?


Mark 6:6 And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching.


Mark 6:30 And the apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught.


Mark 6:34 And when He went ashore, He saw a great multitude, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.


Mark 7:7 'But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'


Mark 8:31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.


Mark 9:31 For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later."


Mark 10:1 And rising up, He went from there to the region of Judea, and beyond the Jordan; and crowds gathered around Him again, and, according to His custom, He once more began to teach them.


Mark 11:17 And He began to teach and say to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations '? But you have made it a robbers' den."


Mark 12:14 And they came and said to Him, "Teacher, we know that You are truthful, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?


Mark 12:35 And Jesus answering began to say, as He taught in the temple, "How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?


Mark 14:49 "Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has happened that the Scriptures might be fulfilled."


Luke 4:15 And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.

 

Comment: Jesus' teaching is in accord with that of a typical teacher of the first century. In this section of Luke, taking place in Nazareth, Jesus reads Scripture, seated himself, and then expounded the passage.


Luke 4:31 And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And He was teaching them on the Sabbath;


Luke 5:3 And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the multitudes from the boat.


Luke 5:17 And it came about one day that He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing.


Luke 6:6 And it came about on another Sabbath, that He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.


Luke 11:1 And it came about that while He was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord,
teach (aorist imperative = Do this now! This is the urgent need!) us to pray just as John also taught his disciples."


Luke 12:12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."


Luke 13:10 And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.


Luke 13:22 And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem.


Luke 13:26 "Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets';


Luke 19:47 And He was teaching daily in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to destroy Him,


Luke 20:1 And it came about on one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him,


Luke 20:21 And they questioned Him, saying, "Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth.


Luke 21:37 Now during the day He was teaching in the temple, but at evening He would go out and spend the night on the mount that is called Olivet.


Luke 23:5 But they kept on insisting, saying, "He stirs up the people, teaching all over Judea, starting from Galilee, even as far as this place."

 

John 6:59 These things He said in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum.


John 7:14 But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach.


John 7:28 Jesus therefore cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, "You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know.


John 7:35 The Jews therefore said to one another, "Where does this man intend to go that we shall not find Him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is He?


John 8:2 And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them.


John 8:20 These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come.


John 8:28 Jesus therefore said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.


John 9:34 They answered and said to him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?" And they put him out.


John 14:26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.


John 18:20 Jesus answered him, "I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues, and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret.


Acts 1:1 The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach,


Acts 4:2 being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.


Acts 4:18 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.


Acts 5:21 And upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak, and began to teach. Now when the high priest and his associates had come, they called the Council together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought.


Acts 5:25 But someone came and reported to them, "Behold, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!"


Acts 5:28 saying, "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us."


Acts 5:42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.


Acts 11:26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And it came about that for an entire year they met with the church, and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.


Acts 15:1 And some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."


Acts 15:35 But Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch, teaching and preaching, with many others also, the word of the Lord.


Acts 18:11 And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.


Acts 15:25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John;


Acts 20:20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house,


Acts 21:21 and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.


Acts 21:28 (Young's Literal) crying out, 'Men, Israelites, help! this is the man who, against the people, and the law, and this place, all everywhere is teaching; and further, also, Greeks he brought into the temple, and hath defiled this holy place;'


Acts 28:31 preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.


Romans 2:21 (note) you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one should not steal, do you steal?


Romans 12:7 (note) if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;


1 Corinthians 4:17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church.


1 Corinthians 11:14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him,


Galatians 1:12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

 

Comment: Note that Paul's teacher was the risen Lord Jesus Christ! Can you imagine the rapt attention of Paul when His Lord taught!

 

Ephesians 4:21 (note) if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,


Colossians 1:28 (note) And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ.


Colossians 2:7 (note) having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.


Colossians 3:16 (note) Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.


2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.


1 Timothy 2:12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.


1 Timothy 4:11
Prescribe and teach (present imperative) these things.


1 Timothy 6:2 And let those who have believers as their masters not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but let them serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved.
Teach (present imperative) and preach these principles.


2 Timothy 2:2 (note) And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.


Titus 1:11 (note) who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain.


Hebrews 5:12 (note) For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.


Hebrews 8:11 (note) "And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, And everyone his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' For all shall know Me, From the least to the greatest of them.


1 John 2:27 And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.


Revelation 2:14 (note) 'But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality.


Revelation 2:20 (note) 'But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

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Last Updated July, 2013

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