Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe…
I. THE ESTEEM WHICH THE ROYAL HAD FOR THE RELIGIOUS. "Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace" (ver. 12). Ezra had so conducted himself as to win the regard of the king; the king admitted the moral character of Ezra in all its grandeur. The minister must gain the esteem of his comrades before he can influence them for good; piety is attractive, and when rightly manifested will win the esteem even of a heathen king. The enemies of Christ cannot but admire the devout scribe. The Christian is the light of the world, and as such will attract by his moral loveliness.
II. THE INQUIRY WHICH THE ROYAL MADE THROUGH THE RELIGIOUS. "To inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem" (ver. 14). The king sends Ezra on an important commission.
1. Authoritative. "Thou art sent of the king and of his seven counsellors." The true minister is sent of God to his work. The moral often requires the authority of the civil and political.
2. Interrogative. "To inquire." The true minister has many inquiries to make concerning the moral condition of men.
3. Religious. The mission of Ezra had chiefly a moral purpose; he was sent to Judah and Jerusalem. Ministerial inquiries must be of a religious character; concerning the work of God.
4. Regulative. "According to the law of thy God." Man must measure life by God's law; how Ezra's teaching appears in this decree of the king. It is the duty of the Church to watch over the welfare of the state; this is part of its commission.
III. THE RESOURCE WHICH THE ROYAL INTRUSTED TO THE RELIGIOUS. "And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem" (ver. 15). The king intrusts Ezra with great treasure; religion conduces to honesty and awakens confidence. The true minister will always be faithful to the treasures and trusts of men - monetary, experimental, and moral. The state may safely commit its most sacred interests to the care of the Church.
IV. THE DISCRETION WHICH THE ROYAL PERMITTED TO THE RELIGIOUS.
1. As to amplitude of resource (vers. 18-20).
2. As to judicial arrangements (ver. 25).
3. As to the requirements of God's house (ver. 23).
4. As to exemption from civil duty (ver. 24).
The true minister requires and must be allowed full discretionary powers; always subservient to the Divine law. God places great resources at the command of his servants, greater than Artaxerxes had to give.
V. THE PROPITIATION WHICH THE ROYAL SOUGHT FROM THE RELIGIOUS. "For why should there be wrath against the realm of the king" (ver. 23)? The king sought the aid of the scribe in Order that he might propitiate an offended Deity. Men seek the spiritual from varied motives; often animated by fear; they little know that God's way is merciful to them. The spiritual often remove national calamity; the true minister will be glad to do all he can to remove the wrath of God from men. - E.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel.