In the recovery and rebuilding of the temple and the city God raised up Ezra, a priestly scribe, to strengthen and enrich His recovery.
Today the Lord needs many like Ezra who are priestly teachers contacting God knowing God’s word, being saturated with God, and being skillful in God’s word to teach and minister God to God’s people for their re-education.
In approx. 540 BC, God stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus and caused him to release the captives from the Hebrews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of God and the city of Jerusalem. The first initial return was led by Zerubbabel, the ruler and governor, together with Joshua, the high priest.
Their spirit was stirred up, and together with all the people who were stirred up by the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem.
Their return was not without any difficulties, for there was a lot of opposition to their endeavour to build the temple and the city. There was fierce fighting from the neighbouring peoples, and at one point the building work stopped for approx. 15 years.
So the Lord sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to go visit the returned people, encourage them, speak God’s word to them, stir them up, and strengthen them to not be frightened or intimidated by the enemy’s attack and opposition, but their hands would be strengthened to continue the work of rebuilding.
Then, fifty years later, God sent a second wave of captives back from Babylon, led by Ezra the priestly scribe. This one, Ezra, was not a letter scribe but a priestly scribe, one who was both a priest and a scribe.
He knew how to contact God and be in His presence, and he was filled with God’s word and was able to interpret God’s word. He took the initiative to lead the second wave of returning to Jerusalem to not only strengthen the work there but re-educate the people.
Outwardly the work of building was completed, but there were lacks; people were unruly, they were wild in their nature, so God sent Ezra to come and re-educate the people of God with the word of God.
Unlike the prophets, Ezra didn’t speak directly from the Lord, His instant word, but he spoke the law, and he interpreted it and applied it to the peoples situation, for them to be re-educated and made as a nation of God.
Today in the Lord’s recovery of the church there’s the need for those who are priestly teachers contacting God and being filled with God, who are skillful in interpreting and applying God’s word, who bring in the riches of the enjoyment of Christ to the church life.
We need to be those who are mingled with God, saturated with God, and filled with God, and we need to be constituted with His word so that we may be priestly teachers, those who not merely teach the word of God but are one with the Lord to interpret the word of God and apply it to the situation of God’s people, like Ezra did.
God raised up Ezra, a Priestly Scribe, to Re-educate the People of God with His Word
Ezra was a priest and also a scribe; on one hand he contacted God and was filled with God, and on the other, he was skilled in the law of God. As such a person, Ezra had the capacity to meet the need of God’s people who returned to Jerusalem.
To carry out the great work of recovery there are three main parts: administration, education, and reconstitution.
Zerubbabel took care of the administration; he initiated and led the return of the people of Israel to Jerusalem, and he also initiated the work of the rebuilding of the temple and the city.
Ezra took care of the work of educating God’s people with God’s word; to rebuild a nation you need not only the outward city but the inward education with the word of God.
Nehemiah took the responsibility to reconstitute the people of Israel especially in relation to the services and worship involved in God’s people as a nations.
In the time of Ezra, although the people of Israel finished the rebuilding of the temple, their condition was wrong, Babylonian, Gentile-like; they were not yet the testimony of God. They needed to be educated with God’s word; education is crucial for the strengthening and enriching a country.
Ezra was a priestly scribe; a priest is one who is mingled with God and was saturated with Him, and Ezra was this kind of person (Ezra 8:21-23). Ezra was not like a lecturer or professor teaching in an academic way; he was not only a scribe but a priest as well, knowing how to live in God’s presence.
What we need is not to be taught about God but to have God ministered into us; the real teaching is God being ministered into us.
Ezra was a priestly scribe, one who was mingled and saturated with the Lord; he trusted in God and was one with God, one who was skilled in the Word of God and who knew God’s heart, God’s desire, and God’s economy (Ezra 7:27-28; 10:1).
Ezra was not merely full of knowledge – he was so much one with God that, when he heard about God’s people being mixed up in marriage with the heathen, he tore off his clothes, prostrated himself before God, and cried out to Him, for he knew God’s desire. He repented and confessed on behalf of the people; he entered into God’s heart to pray and confess the sins of the people of Israel.
In the Lord’s recovery we need such priestly teachers, not those who can speak or are eloquent, but those who are saturated and permeated with God, who are one with God’s interest, and who pour out their heart before the Lord on behalf of God’s people.
In a sense, Ezra spoke nothing new – what he spoke had been spoken already by Moses (Ezra 7:6; Neh. 8:14). He wasn’t a prophet but a teacher, a priestly teacher; a prophet is one who speaks from God, having God’s instant word to speak to His people, but a teacher is those who speak God’s word and re-speak what the prophets speak, repeating it.
What a pattern Ezra was to us, and how much we need many like Ezra in the church life today, the priestly teachers!
Lord Jesus, raise up many priestly teachers in all the local churches in Your recovery of the church. Raise up many like Ezra, those who know God and His heart, who are skillful in the word of God, and who are saturated and permeated with God. Lord, saturate us with Yourself. Permeate us. Fill us with Your word. Give us Your heart for Your people. Make us the priestly teachers of today, those who trust in God, who are one with God, and who are skilled in the word of God, knowing God’s heart, His desire, and His economy!
We need to be Priestly Teachers who are Saturated with God and Skillful in His Word
In the Lord’s recovery of the church we need Ezra’s, priestly teachers who contact God, who are saturated with God, who are filled with God, who are one with God, and who are skillful in the Word of God (Matt. 13:52; 2 Cor. 3:5-6; 1 Tim. 2:7).
We need to be the Ezra’s of today – we need to be the priestly teachers who contact God, are saturated with God, are one with God, are filled with God, and are skillful in His word; such ones are qualified to be teachers in the Lord’s recovery.
For us to be a proper testimony of the Lord, it is not enough to just return to the ground of oneness and meet with the Local church, having the Lord’s table on the proper ground. We need to be re-educated and reconstituted; there’s an urgent need for reconstitution through education.
To recover the church is not so simple; being in the recovery of the church doesn’t imply only our leaving the denominations and coming to the genuine ground of oneness, but it involves a lot of re-education.
The ascended Christ gave gifts to men: some as apostles, some as prophets, some as shepherds and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, unto the building up of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:11).
There’s an urgent need among us in the church life in the Lord’s recovery of the proper education by the priestly scribes, those who are saturated with God and filled with God, and who are skillful in God’s word.
Such a teaching is not an academic or professional teaching, but at-home teaching. We need to be apt to teach – not on a platform necessarily, but teach others like parents teach the children at home.
We need to be filled with God by contacting Him, and we need to be constituted with the healthy teaching in God’s word, so that we may be the priestly teachers in the church life today.
Mere knowledge does not build; rather, it kills. A priestly teacher builds up; he speaks the Lord’s word and applies it to the situation of the saints, and he brings in the rich experience and enjoyment of Christ into the church life for the building up of the church as the house of God and the city of God.
We may not be qualified to be prophets in the sense of receiving revelation directly from God, but we all can be teachers, priestly teachers, who know God, know God’s word, and are filled with God to minister God to His people.
In the Lord’s recovery we need Ezra’s, priestly teachers who are filled and saturated with God, and who are skillful in His word, to teach the word of God to the saints and help them be reconstituted with God’s word, according to His desire, that they may be the house of God and the city of God.
We all need to have an aspiration to be a priestly teacher, one who teaches in a way that stirs up the spirit of others and ministers the Triune God into them.
We need to breathe in the breathed out word of God and be constituted with the word so that our teaching may result in conviction, which leads to correction, which results in instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).
Lord Jesus, we aspire to be priestly teachers which teach others the word of God in a way that stirs up their spirit and ministers the Triune God into them. We give ourselves to You, Lord, to be filled with You and saturated with You, and we want to be constituted with Your word. Amen! May our teaching bring in conviction, repentance, adjusting, correction, leading to proper instruction in righteousness. Lord, cause us to be apt to teach by ministering life to others and speaking Your word in a living way according to the need.
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by James Lee for this week, and portions from, Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1969, vol. 2, “The Recovery of God’s House and God’s City,” chs. 1-3, 5-8, as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Recovery of the Church (2017 fall ITERO), week 4, The Recovery of the Church as God’s House and God’s City as Portrayed in Ezra and Nehemiah.
- Hymns on this topic:
# That recovery may proceed / Real priests are what we need— / Those who live in Christ indeed, / O glory be to God! / Saturated with the Lord, / They have Christ as their reward. / These the building work afford / In the local churches now. (Hymns #1251)
# Pray to fellowship with Jesus, / Bathing in His countenance; / Saturated with His beauty, / Radiate His excellence. (Hymns #784)
# O teach me, Lord, that I may teach / The precious things Thou dost impart; / And wing my words, that they may reach / The hidden depths of many a heart. (Hymns #903)
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