Following Spiritual Leaders Ezra 7:8-10; 9:1-4; 10:1-5 Dec. 17,2006
Pastors may call another pastor by the title; man of God. If some one receives that title from another minister it comes because that man spends time with the disciplines Ezra enjoyed. Ezra made time to study the Word of God, obey it, teach it in word and deed, plus spending time in prayer. In my earlier life some days became so busy doing the work of a minister, I neglected the disciplines of being the man of God. Church members need to help the pastor protect his time so he can be a spiritual man, and then they need to Follow Spiritual Leaders.
1. The . . Disciplines of A Spiritual Leader. Ezra 7:8-10
A. The . . Dating Of The Spiritual Leader’s Disciplines. Ezra 7:8-9a
8 Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, during the seventh year of the king. 9 He began the journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month and arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth
month.. . .”
B. The . . Determination Of The Spiritual Leader’s Disciplines. Ezra 7:9b-10
“. . . The gracious hand of his God was on him, 10 because Ezra had determined in his heart to study
the law of the LORD, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.
The dating of this time in Ezra’s life helps in the historical record. No doubt significant spiritual things happened in the life of Israel during these days because Ezra practiced spiritual disciplines. Sometimes a leader will be known in history for the things that did not happen. Spiritual leadership may be blessed by the Lord in what does and does not happen. It is interesting to note the explanation of why God’s hand was on Ezra; and it is because of what he determined in his heart. Ezra lived a purposeful life in the Word of God. He read it obeyed it and taught it. We need more men like Ezra.
2. The . . Disobedience Of An Unspiritual Leader. Ezra 9:1-4
A. The . . Detestable Practices Of The Unspiritual Leaders’ Disobedience. Ezra 9:1-2
1. Detestable In The . . Failure To Practice Separation. 9:1
1 After these things had been done, the leaders approached me and said: "The people of Israel, the
priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the surrounding peoples whose detestable practices are like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites.
2. Detestable In The . . Fusing With The Surroundings. 9:2
2 Indeed, they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy people has become mixed with the surrounding peoples. The leaders and officials have taken the lead in this unfaithfulness!"
B. The . . Demonstrations from The Practices Of The Unspiritual Leaders’ Disobedience. Ezra 9:3-4
1. The Demonstration Registered In The . . Tearing of Clothes. 9:3
3 When I heard this report, I tore my tunic and robe, pulled out some of the hair from my head and
beard, and sat down devastated.
2. The Demonstration Registered In The . .Trembling of the People. 9:4
4 Everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me, because of the unfaithfulness of the exiles, while I sat devastated until the evening offering.
Leaders who lack spiritual disciplines cause detestable practices to creep into the lifestyles of the people.
It will be seen in a failure to live the separate life commanded by the Lord. In addition the practices of the
surrounding pagan communities became acceptable to Israel. Do you see this happening in America? Take a look at the number of church members who blend into the surroundings of the non-churched community. These actions caused Ezra to tear his clothes in a demonstration of horror at the actions of the people. Many people desiring to Follow Spiritual Leaders, trembled at the reading and remembrance of God’s Word.
3. The . . Decision To Repent By The Unspiritual Leaders. Ezra 10:1-5
A. The Decision . . Displayed By Ezra. 10:1
10:1 While Ezra prayed and confessed, weeping and falling facedown before the house of God, an extremely large assembly of Israelite men, women, and children gathered around him. The people also wept bitterly.
B. The Decision . . Declared By Shecaniah. 10:2-4
2 Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, an Elamite, responded to Ezra: "We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the surrounding peoples, but there is still hope for Israel in spite of this. 3 Let us therefore make a covenant before our God to send away all the foreign wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God. Let it be done according to the law. 4 Get up, for this matter is your responsibility, and we support you. Be strong and take action!"
C. The Decision . . Documented By Ezra, the Leaders, and Israel. 10:5
5 Then Ezra got up and made the leading priests, Levites, and all Israel take an oath to do what had been said; so they took the oath.
Ezra recognized the need for repentance, and displayed his concern for all the people to see. His action
drew a large crowd, and a decision came out of the crowd to repent of, and forsake, their breaking the command of God. The foreign wives with their children will be sent away to go to their pagan countries. This action to us may seem a little harsh, but notice the approval of the godly men? Ezra gets up off his face in his display of repentance before God, and takes different actions displaying repentance. He asked all the spiritual leaders to document their support as they take an oath to carry out the acts of repentance. The people, and nation, were greatly affected in their Following Spiritual Leaders. Amen? Amen!