Ezra 7:11-12 – “This is a copy of the letter King Artaxerxes had given to Ezra the priest and teacher, a man learned in matters concerning the commands and decrees of the LORD for Israel: Artaxerxes, king of kings, To Ezra the priest, a teacher of the Law of the God of heaven: Greetings.”
- Artaxerxes, a pagan king, is about to use a considerable amount of papyrus to ensure this foreign priest/teacher safe passage on a journey to worship a god that’s not the king’s own. However, it’s clear that Artaxerxes has spent much time with Ezra learning about this “God of heaven.”
Ezra 7:13-14 – “Now I decree that any of the Israelites in my kingdom, including priests and Levites, who wish to go to Jerusalem with you, may go. You are sent by the king and his seven advisers to inquire about Judah and Jerusalem with regard to the Law of your God, which is in your hand.”
- These verses tell us WHY Ezra was sent to Jerusalem – to ensure the Law of God was being taught and followed in Jerusalem. They also tell us how a copy of the Law found its way back to Jerusalem – in the capable, safe hands of Ezra the priest and teacher.
Ezra 7:15-17 – “Moreover, you are to take with you the silver and gold that the king and his advisers have freely given to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, together with all the silver and gold you may obtain from the province of Babylon, as well as the freewill offerings of the people and priests for the temple of their God in Jerusalem. With this money be sure to buy bulls, rams and male lambs, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings, and sacrifice them on the altar of the temple of your God in Jerusalem.”
- This part of the letter reveals Artaxerxes’ familiarity with the Law of God. The specific terms he uses for offerings, “freewill…grain…drink,” and his specific reference to bulls, rams and male lambs for sacrifice shows some familiarity with Ezra’s teaching.
- This pagan king just wrote a blank check and gave it to Ezra – without an itemized receipt for the supplies. And he did it based on his belief that Ezra would hear and KNOW the will of his God.
Lord, You haven’t placed me in a palace, but You have placed me in a circle of people that only I can influence. There are people in my life that will hear my voice, people in whom I’m supposed to plant seed, some whose seed I’m supposed to water, and perhaps some I’ll even be blessed to harvest the fruit of others’ planting. Help me to be a faithful influencer of those in my life, Father.