After teaching those who had returned from exile Ezra called out to the leaders in Judah to be the spiritual leaders in their homes and communities. They responded positively by declaring, "In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it (Nehemiah 9:38)."
Hearing the Word of God calls for a response. Ezra listed at least eight different areas that the leaders were to commit themselves:
- Protect the the sanctity of marriage by not marrying people who weren't Israelites
- Honor the Sabbath by not buying and selling on that day
- Honor the seventh year by not working the land and by canceling debts owed by others
- Pay temple tax
- Share in the responsibility for contributing wood for the altar
- Bring the first fruits to the house of the Lord
- Consecrate the firstborn sons and animals to the priests
- Not neglect the house of God (upkeep and worship)
In other words, make the LORD the center of your life.
This narrative teaches us a number of simple truths about the Word and the LORD:
- God convicts of specific sin; therefore, people must deal with sin specifically.
- Reading the Word of God out loud brings conviction upon its hearers; therefore careful attention must be given to personal and communal reading of God's word.
- God raises up leaders to assist people in creating and implementing an action plan; therefore, leaders must be proactive in holding their people accountable and people must respond positively to their leadership.
When read and taken seriously the Word of God restores people to where they should be. Its standard never changes. Its Author ever seeks to bring His people back to Himself. And His Word is the vehicle that does just that.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
- What does Ezra lead the leaders, Levites, and priests to do as a result of their national repentance?
- Why is Ezra concerned that a strong representation of the people live in Jerusalem and how does he resolve the issue? (see 10:9)
- What does this require from the people?
Ask the Lord to enlarge your view of His Word, to increase your appreciation of His Word, and to embolden you in the verbal proclamation of His Word.