God’s Life-Giving Word of Praise and Thanksgiving
Ezra 7:11-28: The emperor Artaxerxes gives Ezra a document, outlining instructions for maintaining the Temple and the worship life of the people.
Ezra said, “Praise the LORD, the God of our ancestors! He has made the emperor willing to honor in this way the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem.”
The Document Which Emperor Artaxerxes Gave to Ezra
11Emperor Artaxerxes gave the following document to Ezra, the priest and scholar, who had a thorough knowledge of the laws and commands which the Lord had given to Israel:
12“From Emperor Artaxerxes to the priest Ezra, scholar in the Law of the God of Heaven.
13“I command that throughout my empire all the Israelite people, priests, and Levites that so desire be permitted to go with you to Jerusalem. 14I, together with my seven counselors, send you to investigate the conditions in Jerusalem and Judah in order to see how well the Law of your God, which has been entrusted to you, is being obeyed. 15You are to take with you the gold and silver offerings which I and my counselors desire to give to the God of Israel, whose Temple is in Jerusalem. 16You are also to take all the silver and gold which you collect throughout the province of Babylon and the offerings which the Israelite people and their priests give for the Temple of their God in Jerusalem.
17“You are to spend this money carefully and buy bulls, rams, lambs, grain, and wine and offer them on the altar of the Temple in Jerusalem. 18You may use the silver and gold that is left over for whatever you and your people desire, in accordance with the will of your God. 19You are to present to God in Jerusalem all the utensils that have been given to you for use in the Temple services. 20And anything else which you need for the Temple, you may get from the royal treasury.
21“I command all the treasury officials in West-of-Euphrates Province to provide promptly for Ezra, the priest and scholar in the Law of the God of Heaven, everything he asks you for, 22up to a limit of 7,500 pounds of silver, 500 bushels of wheat, 550 gallons of wine, 550 gallons of olive oil, and as much salt as needed. 23You must be careful to provide everything which the God of Heaven requires for his Temple, and so make sure that he is never angry with me or with those who reign after me. 24You are forbidden to collect any taxes from the priests, Levites, musicians, guards, workers, or anyone else connected with this Temple.
25“You, Ezra, using the wisdom which your God has given you, are to appoint administrators and judges to govern all the people in West-of-Euphrates who live by the Law of your God. You must teach that Law to anyone who does not know it. 26If any disobey the laws of your God or the laws of the empire, they are to be punished promptly: by death or by exile or by confiscation of their property or by imprisonment.”
Ezra Praises God
27Ezra said, “Praise the Lord, the God of our ancestors! He has made the emperor willing to honor in this way the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. 28By God's grace I have won the favor of the emperor, of his counselors, and of all his powerful officials; the Lord my God has given me courage, and I have been able to persuade many of the heads of the clans of Israel to return with me.”
What responsibility did the Persian emperor Artaxerxes assign to Ezra? Why would the emperor have chosen Ezra for this task? What was Ezra instructed to do? How are responsibilities assigned within your community of faith and what tasks are needed to ensure the ongoing worship life of your faith community? Reread verses 27 and 28. For what does Ezra praise God? How will you praise God today?
I praise you today, Lord God, for ________________. Give me courage this day to speak your Word and fill me with your wisdom. May all I do this day be in accord with your will and give honor and glory to you. Amen.
Those serving on church property committees
Nehemiah 8:1-18: Ezra reads the Law to the people gathered in Jerusalem.