I have been preparing a study for our Sukkot group from the Book of Ezra. When I felt the Father leading in this direction, I thought, ‘What? Ezra? There isn’t much in that book, is there??!’
Well, I am a believer!! I feel I have only scratched the surface and have about 40 pages of typed notes. I’m finding one gem after another!!
Here is a cool verse that is a sermon/teaching, all by itself… It is the kind of verse that should be a life verse!! Let’s take a quick look at it!!
For Ezra had set his heart to study the Torah of Yahweh and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel. Ezra 7:10
As I’ve heard some say about other verses, ‘That’ll preach!’
In fact, Ezra is doing exactly what Messiah Yeshua said would make him ‘great in the kingdom.’
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not [a]the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches [b]others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever [c]keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Ezra is ‘keeping’ and ‘teaching.’
It is important to notice the sequence of Ezra’s actions.
First, he ‘sets his heart.’ I believe at least part of this is ‘counting the cost.’ Obedience and righteousness is rarely popular. In fact, when a person decides to walk in greater righteousness, according to Scripture, most want to back away from them as their own unrighteousness is exposed when set next to the real deal. Yeshua warned in the ‘counting the cost’ passage that following Him would be costly. Elsewhere, He tells us that once we put hand to plow (a Hebraism that deals with grabbing the spindles of the Torah Scroll) we cannot look back, else we are not fit for the kingdom. Ezra had ‘set his heart,’ and was not turning back, evidenced through the rest of the Book and parts of Nehemiah.
Once Ezra’s heart was set, he performed three actions:
- He studied the Torah.
- He practiced the Torah.
- He taught the Torah.
Ezra ‘studied the torah.’ The rest of Scripture, while equally valid, flows out of Torah and cannot be rightly understood apart from the lens of Torah. Ezra demonstrates something critical here. He shows us that he understands that the beginning of wisdom and understanding is in Torah. Further, we see that there is no other mention of sources external to Torah. Everything that is Truth MUST agree with the breathed Word of Yahweh as given to Moses. If it disagrees, then it is false. Period. See Deuteronomy 13:1-5.
One reason the Apostle Paul/Rav Shaul is so misunderstood and wrongly used for false doctrine in mainstream Christianity is because those who teach have not studied Torah! This is confirmed by the Apostle Peter’s/Kefa’s warning against ‘unlearned men’ leading people to ‘lawlessness.’ We won’t chase that rabbi trail.
The key though is to study, really study, the Torah. It is the foundation!
Ezra, besides studying Torah, practiced it! There are plenty of ‘old’ testament scholars’ in Christendom. The problem is that most don’t ‘practice’ what they study. Can one study something and claim to believe it is the Word of Yahweh, then NOT practice it? I don’t know about you, but I am NOT following that guy or even listening to him. He ‘counsels rebellion.‘
But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?
Ezra’s halakah, his ‘walk,’ bore witness to his faith in what he studied. We are called to ‘walk as He (Messiah) walked.‘ How did Messiah walk? He kept the commandments of Yahweh.
In fact, Ezra, in this verse is a picture of Messiah. He studied Yahweh’s Torah, practiced it and then taught it.
Because Ezra studied and practiced the Torah, he was qualified to teach the Torah.
While we can learn and see much in this verse from Ezra, in truth, we shouldn’t be surprised! In the verses that follow and in Nehemiah 8-10 we see Ezra teaching and leading the returning exiles in learning and walking in the Commandments of Yahweh. He is an example that we should seek to follow.
[The above pic is one of several ‘fun’ ones I found while searching for an image that makes the point. While this post is in no way pointed at ‘Barbeque Presbyterian Church’ in Sanford, NC, and, yes, that is where this pic came from (LOL!! ), it is indicative of the general lawlessness of the Church.]
Leviticus 11 is just one passage that Christendom ignores and therefore disqualifies them as teachers of Truth.
For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth. 45 For I am the Lord who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.’”
46 This is the law regarding the animal and the bird, and every living thing that moves in the waters and everything that swarms on the earth, 47 to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean, and between the edible creature and the creature which is not to be eaten. Lev. 11:44-47
So many different directions we could go right here, but sticking to the original verse, be sure that your teacher is one like Ezra, foreshadowing the Messiah, who, in His Second Coming , will practice and teach Torah.
Anything less than walking and teaching Torah will be an epic fail!
Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many [a]miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’