o obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice
June 26, 2019 – Wednesday
Ezra 7:26 NIV
26 Whoever does not obey the law of your God and the law of the king must surely be punished by death, banishment, confiscation of property, or imprisonment.
If you open your Bible to the book of Ezra and expect to read about Ezra and who he was as in most of the books of prophets you will be sorely disappointed as he does not appear until chapter seven. Instead fifty years after the destruction of Jerusalem in chapter one we are introduced to Cyrus king of Persia who is permitting thousands (over 40,000) of Israelites to return home. This is likely due to being shown by Daniel where he was mentioned by name in the book of Isaiah 150 years before he was born and his exploits and conquests foretold. So Cyrus proclaimed
3 Any of His people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them.
All that was involved in rebuilding the temple, the work, the leaders (Zerubbabel and Joshua), the opposition, and King Darius’ decree ending the opposition. That takes us to the end of chapter six. A side note, the book of Ezra and the book of Nehemiah were once one book and were separated many years later. For more on this see The Bible Projects video on Ezra-Nehemiah.
After the temple was rebuilt we finally meet Ezra whose lineage traces all the way back to Aaron, the brother of Moses. It is now sixty years later and it is during the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persian that Ezra leads more Israelites back to Judah. Ezra is described as a priest, a teacher of the Law, a man learned in matters concerning the commands and decrees of the Lord for Israel (7:11). I read elsewhere he was a man who studied God’s word, put God’s word into action in his own life, and then taught God’s word … a good approach or sequence for all who would want to teach God’s word.
Our verse of the day comes from a letter from King Artaxerxes that concludes
25 And you, Ezra, in accordance with the wisdom of your God, which you possess, appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people of Trans-Euphrates—all who know the laws of your God. And you are to teach any who do not know them. 26 Whoever does not obey the law of your God and the law of the king must surely be punished by death, banishment, confiscation of property, or imprisonment.
How unusual to have a king who does not believe as the Israelites believed, require that the laws of the Lord God of Israel would be taught and obedience to them required. It is also unusual to have three Gentile kings support Israel. First Cyrus, then Darius, and finally Artaxerxes. Artaxerxes continues his support of Israel in the book of Nehemiah.
Bottom line: God will use whomever He chooses to see His will is done. Something to think on.
RileyD, nwJ (to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)