On the first day of the first month he began his journey from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel. Ezra 7:9-10
There is a peculiar gap between the end of Ezra chapter six and the beginning of Ezra chapter seven, a space of approximately sixty years. In this season of silence the Temple was functioning properly and the people were worshiping, but nothing of biblical note is recorded. That sad fact is an indicator that revival was probably in order. Enter Ezra.
Ezra was a brilliant man of God and the writer of this book, first and second Chronicles, and Psalm 119. He was a scribe and a priest; a direct descendant of Aaron. I am told that the Talmud records that he had the Torah memorized and that he and 119 other men determined, as led by the Holy Spirit, the canon of the Old Testament. Ezra is also a picture (or type) of the Holy Spirit in this story—his name in fact means helper.
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. John 16:7
Why would we care if Ezra’s a type of God’s Spirit; why is that important to us? A couple reasons: first it demonstrates once again that the Old Testament is more than just a Bible history book and that its primary function is to deliver its readers by pointing them to Jesus Christ. The second reason is that if we can claim Ezra is a type of the Holy Spirit, there’s likely Holy Spirit characteristics present in the text; things of which we can glean. And wouldn’t you know it, there are!
You can read the letter that King Artaxerxes gave Ezra (Ezra 7:12-27) if you like, but here’s a synopsis–Ezra is called by the king to be a guide, a giver of gifts, a leader of worship, a teacher, an enforcer of righteousness, a beautifier of the Lord’s house, and a gather of men. Aren’t those the very attributes we associate with God’s Spirit?
Reread Ezra 7:9-10 from the start of the blog. It’s a wonderful illustration of what the Holy Spirit does in our lives, isn’t it. Now compare it to this bundle of verses:
For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God…You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear…He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you…for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. 1 Corinthians 2:10b, Psalms 10:17b, John 14:26b, Philippians 2:13
Not only do these combined passages demonstrate how the Old Testament jives with the New, but they reveal how God’s Spirit functions in our lives. We see that He’s led by the Word, He readies our hearts, He educates, and then incredibly He does the work through the submitted believer.
A Final Thought
…Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given. Ezra 7:6
Did you know that being filled with the Holy Spirit and being filled with God’s Word are synonymous? Ezra’s type bears witness to it, for he was both filled with the Spirit and consumed by the Word—both had taken up residence in his heart. Compare Ephesians 5:18b-19 and Colossians 3:16
…Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord
They’re in agreement for the most part, the only difference being that one says be filled with the Holy Spirit and the other says be filled with the Holy Word. Observe that the characteristics are identical; a Spirit-filled person and a Bible-filled person operate similarly. In other words, a noticeable quality of the Spirit-filled believer is that he or she is absorbed in God’s word.
Is that your testimony? Can you say ‘God’s Spirit resides in me’ because these other qualities are also present? If you can’t then one of two things are likely true: the Holy Spirit does not live in you ~or~ you are quenching the works of the Holy Spirit. The solution to either of those can be found in prayer and in the Word.