Thursday, 20 August 2020
Question of the day: What were some of the good habits of Ezra?
Answer: From today's reading, I found two scriptures to help answer this question of the day, one in chapter 7 and one in chapter 8.
Ezra 7:10 "For Ezra had set his heart to seek the Torah of Adonai, to observe and to teach its statues and ordinances in Israel."
We would do well to model Ezra. Do we want to hear the call of God on our lives? Sure we do. Why not start with what He has already called us to? We are called to "seek the Torah of Adonai." But, what does that mean? The rest of the verse explains it, "to observe and to teach."
That's right, we are called to do what God said. But, why should I? Hear the words of Moses ... Deuteronomy 4:40 "You must keep His statutes and His mitzvot, which I am commanding you today, so that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and so that you may prolong your days in the land that Adonai your God is giving you for all time."
And not just for ourselves, but part of our calling is to teach others? Yes! We have a bottomless treasure and the command to all of us includes the duty to share it. This is the difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is just feeling sorry for someone and their sad situation. Empathy is identification with someone's suffering, but then helping them to see the path of escape provided by God. We have found the keys of the kingdom of heaven in Messiah Yeshua. It is selfish and cruel to have these keys and then not share them with a sick and dying world.
The second verse is from chapter 8. Ezra 8:23 "So we fasted and sought our God about this, and He responded to our plea." That's right, another good habit of Ezra is to fast and to seek God (pray). Many books have been written about fasting and even more about prayer. I will not do either of these disciplines justice in the next few paragraphs, but I have to write something.
Fasting is a denial of earthly urges and fleshly demands in favor of divine and spiritual nourishment. We decide to focus on God and not on the needs of this body. God
then responds to our intentionality. Joel 2:12 "Yet even now - it is a declaration of Adonai - turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping and lamenting."
Ani Mit-kaven means "I really mean it" in Hebrew. By fasting (the Bible calls it humbling ourselves), we are demonstrating intentionality with God. We pursue Him instead of food that lasts only for a few hours before we need to be fed again. God has food that lasts. John 6:27 "Don't work for food that spoils, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on Him, God the Father has put the seal of approval."
But wait, there's more, just look back a few chapters with me ... John 4:32,34 "But He (Yeshua) said to them, 'I have food to eat that you know nothing about.' ... Yeshua (then) tells them, 'My food is to do the will of the One who sent Me and to accomplish His work.'"
So we're back to that? No matter how we try, we just can't escape the value of doing the will of God. God, our good Father in heaven, both wants us and expects us to obey Him. Some might say, "Why obey when we have grace?" But I would say, "By grace God enables us to obey." (Romans 8:4)
Ezra had some good habits. We should learn from his example.
Rabbi Michael Weiner,