Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,…
I. THAT HE IS GENERALLY A MAN OF GOOD MORAL ANCESTRY. "The son of Aaron the chief priest" (ver. 5). Ezra was in the line of a renowned and religious ancestry; the past history of Israel would be full of meaning to him; sacred traditions would inspire him in the present national crisis, It is well for a minister to have in his ancestry men whose lives and activities have been intimately associated with the Church; their holy example will animate him; natural sympathy will stimulate him; the sacred enterprise of his family will inspire him; a blessed heritage will be his. It is a privilege for a minister to be in the line of Aaron, if he continue faithfully in the work of Aaron. The inspiration and influence of a holy ancestry is a rich ministerial endowment.
II. THAT HE IS A MAN OF SELF-SACRIFICING SPIRIT. Ezra left Babylon for Jerusalem. He exchanged the comfort and influence which he enjoyed in the court of Artaxerxes for the hardships of a perilous journey, and for the broken fortunes of Israel. The true minister will ever be ready to leave Babylon for Jerusalem; he will esteem luxury, and even life itself, as subservient to the welfare of the people of God. Christ left a better court than Babylon, and allied himself with sinful men that he might restore their broken hopes. The early disciples left all and followed Christ; the carnal must be sacrificed to the spiritual.
III. THAT HE IS A MAN INTELLIGENTLY TAUGHT IN THE WORD OF GOD. "And he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses" (ver. 6).
1. He intelligently understood the truth.
(1) Its divinity.
(2) Its obligation.
2. He carefully prepared his moral nature for the reception of the truth. "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord" (ver. 10).
3. He constantly endeavoured to make his conduct an embodiment of the truth. "And to do it" (ver. 10).
4. He wisely recognised the deeper meanings of the truth. "To seek the law of the Lord"
5. He earnestly sought to impart to others a knowledge of the truth. "And to teach in Israel." Thus the true minister will understand the gospel; will prepare his soul by repentance and prayer for the reception of the gospel in all its entirety; will exhibit the gospel in his daily conduct; will seek the hidden messages of the gospel; and will strive to bring mankind to a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus.
IV. THAT HE IS A MAN CAPABLE OF ATTACHING MEN TO HIMSELF (ver 7; compare Ezra 8:16, 18). Ezra went not alone to Jerusalem, but succeeded in getting many to accompany him.
1. He awakened sympathy in many of his comrades.
2. He awakened conscience in some of his comrades.
3. He employed appropriate agencies to induce others to join him in the journey (Ezra 8:18). The true minister will employ all rightful means to induce men to walk with him in the ways of a new life to heaven; he will not isolate himself from men, but take them with him by the force of sympathy.
V. THAT HE IS A MAN WHO ENDEAVOURS RIGHTLY TO INFLUENCE THE CIVIL AUTHORITIES. Ezra was evidently on the most friendly terms with Artaxerxes; magistrates and ministers should be in sympathy with each other. The sovereign and the scribe should be mutually helpful; there should be no antagonism between the Church and the state. The true minister will cultivate a judicious co-operation with the "powers that be." Ezra taught the king, hence his knowledge of the God of Israel (ver. 15). It is the office of the minister to instruct men in lofty social station, when they have the opportunity, as well as to aid the poor Israelite. The Church is the best teacher of the state. - E.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,