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For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel (Ezra 7:10, ESV).

In reading the Scriptures I always notice those in positions of leadership and how they have exercised that leadership, or failed doing so. Ezra was God’s prophet; that is, he was God’s preacher and leader in a time when the people of Israel already returned from Babylonian captivity and were in need of spiritual leadership. As the verse says, Ezra was a man who set his heart to study the Lord’s way. He did this, no doubt, because of his love for the Lord. There is something pleasant about hard, critical and devotional study of the Lord’s Word – the greatest Book in human history. He did this for more than just one reason. He took the necessary time to prepare his heart in order to also lead the people of Israel in the righteous and narrow way. This was no easy task.

He did this how? At the very least he was a man educated in proper study of God’s word. To properly study the Lord’s word is not a matter of reading a section, then expressing one’s personal thoughts about it. It takes a great deal more than that, but without going into what it takes, let us consider only this: Ezra was a man who, each day, spent hours in study and prayer. It was not that each waking moment was dedicated to that, but a lot of it was! The people of Israel knew this, especially those who trembled at the Lord’s word (Ezra 9:4). Those who “trembled” (NKJV) were those who were moved by the Lord’s counsel to act, as they needed to address the problem at hand. To them, it was not a matter of anything but obedience to His will. Whatever the cost, they willfully paid it. A man like Ezra with his leadership capabilities is very much desired even today.

How did he do this? Not only did he spend a lot of time in studying God’s express will, but when called upon to stand before secular royalty, he stood for the people. The king was impressed and, so, with Ezra’s “God-given wisdom” (7:25), Ezra took a number of people from the Persian realm and went to the homeland of Israel. Though the king took notice of Ezra, it was Ezra who gave all praise and glory (7:27-28). As Ezra and those with him journeyed, they expressed complete devotion to the Lord, relying on Him completely (8:21-23). Ezra had his trepidation in this journey, but in his mind the Lord was the better protector than anything the king could provide.

One can only imagine the joy of having arrived after a time of months in traveling. Arrived they did, and it was because of two primary factors. God was in control of Ezra, and Ezra wanted God to control him. Because of this, Ezra was able to lead the people. This is the kind of leader the New Testament church needs today. RT