Ezra: The Teacher of God’s Word and Agent of Revival -- By: Russell T. Fuller

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 09:3 (Fall 2005)
Article: Ezra: The Teacher of God’s Word and Agent of Revival
Author: Russell T. Fuller


Ezra: The Teacher of God’s Word
and Agent of Revival

Russell T. Fuller

Russell T. Fuller is Associate Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He received his Ph.D. at Hebrew Union College. Dr. Fuller was previously Assistant Professor of Bible and Bible Languages at Mid-Continent College in Mayfield, Kentucky, and has served as an interim pastor in Ohio and Kentucky. He has written a number of journal and dictionary articles and is the author of Invitation to Biblical Hebrew (Kregel, forthcoming, 2005).

Introduction

When the exiles returned from Babylon in 539 B.C., Israel (including the remnants of the northern kingdom and Judah) was spiritually stronger than it was a generation earlier when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem. Idolatry, the act of treason that brought God’s judgment, was now burned out of the Israelite soul. The initial leadership of the exiles, including Zerubbabel, Haggai, and Zechariah, further strengthened Israel spiritually by rebuilding the temple and restoring Israel’s worship. As time passed, however, Israel’s devotion to God declined and waned. Once again, Israel began foreshadowing a path that, unless arrested, would lead back to idolatry, as it did with the Jewish remnant in Egypt (Jer 44:24–30).1 Approximately, eighty years after Cyrus’s decree for the Jews to return from Babylon, God called Israel back to her covenantal obligations by a new generation of leaders: Malachi, the prophet, Nehemiah, the governor, and Ezra, the priest and scribe.

When arriving in Jerusalem in 458 B.C., about sixty years after the completion of the temple, Ezra found the spiritual condition of the people deplorable. Externally, there was opposition of every sort, both political and religious. Internally, the people were worldly and largely ignorant of God’s word. Most problematic, of course, the people were intermarrying with foreigners and adopting their lifestyle. Israel was again on course to experience the judgment of God.

To pull Israel back from impending apostasy and to revive them spiritually, God sent Ezra from Babylon to Israel. Serving in the dual offices of priest and scribe, Ezra, by the good hand of God, taught the people the word of God, thereby bringing revival to Israel.

Ezra: The Teacher of God’s Word

Priest

As part of their mediatorial office, priests were custodians and teachers of the word of God.2 Moses entrusted his great work, the law (the Pentateuch), to the priests (Deut 31:10) and com...

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