Ezra 7:23
Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven must be done diligently for the His house. For why should wrath fall on the realm of the king and his sons?
Sermons
Christian MissionsSamuel Thodey.Ezra 7:23
The Decree of ArtaxerzesC. Simeon, M. A.Ezra 7:23
Ezra's Commission from ArtaxerxesJ.A. Macdonald Ezra 7:11-26
Pagan PietyW. Clarkson Ezra 7:11-26
The Commission of ArtaxerxesWilliam Jones.Ezra 7:11-27
The Office and Duty of the Civil MagistratePhiloclesius.Ezra 7:11-27
The Decree of Artaxerxes to the TreasurersJ.A. Macdonald Ezra 7:21-24
Embodied in the letter of the Persian king to Ezra we have certain directions addressed through him to the treasurers beyond the river. These directions, though emanating from a heathen source, suggest the principles which should guide liberality in the cause of God, as to its measure, its spirit, and its reasons.

I. THE MEASURE.

1. This should be generous. "Whatsoever Ezra the priest," etc.

(1) Provision for the immediate wants of the temple had already been made in the free gifts - viz., from the king, from his counsellors, from his people in the province of Babylon, from the Jews abiding there (see vers. 15-20).

(2) This direction was intended to sustain the service in perpetuity. Fitful generosity is better than none; but principle, rather than emotion or passion, should guide. The cause of God should not languish for support until men make their wills and die.

(3) The ministers of the sanctuary were to be exempted from taxation (ver. 24). The reason is that they were dependent for support upon the gifts of the people; and it is respectful to their sacred office that they should be generously treated.

2. It should not be reckless.

(1) Here is a prescribed limit. "Unto," etc. (ver. 22). A talent of silver is estimated as equivalent to £400, so here the limit is f 40,000. The measure (cor) is estimated at 86 gallons, so here the limit is 8600 gallons of wheat. The bath is seven gallons and five pints, so the limit of wine is 760 gallons.

(2) Two things should limit our liberality - viz.,

(a) The necessity of the case.

(b) Our ability. If we give what is not ours we act fraudulently.

3. It should be religious. "Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven," etc. (ver. 23).

(1) The laws of God are reasonable, merciful, just.

(2) Therefore if "the scribe of the God of heaven," an inspired man, be he Ezra, Moses, or Paul, in the sacred writings, make demands, these should be respected.

(3) But this does not say that uninspired men, because in clerical orders, have any right dogmatically to prescribe to the laity. If there be no sphere for the right of private judgment, there is an end to individual responsibility.

II. THE SPIRIT.

1. It should be diligent. "Let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven" (ver. 23).

(1) Sacred objects are fittingly called "charities," or objects of love. The cause of God in all its departments should be dear to us, and the claims of these will be diligently studied as a labour of love.

(2) Pains should be taken so to minister liberality that the maximum of good may be attained. Causes should be "sought out" (Job 29:16). Promiscuous relief may encourage deception, and what is given to the worthless is diverted from the worthy.

(3) Careless donors are responsible to God for the misery they might have alleviated by the use of diligence.

2. It should be prompt. "Let it be done speedily" (ver. 21).

(1) This note was rendered necessary by the tardy manner in which things are commonly done in the East. Through this slowness incalculable misery is endured. But "the king's business requires haste."

(2) Much more the work of God. This is of the utmost importance. Eternal issues depend upon it. Time is running. Souls are perishing.

III. THE REASONS.

1. It should be done unto God.

(1) Ezra was to receive from the treasurers what he needed - viz., in his capacity as "the priest" and the "scribe of the law of the God of heaven." What he should need for the temple and the altar. What his learning in the law of God should instruct him was needful to the service of the God of heaven (ver. 23).

(2) No higher reason than this can be conceived.

2. The prosperity of the realm required it. "For why should wrath be against the realm?" The history of nations shows that as they became haughty against God they suffered adversity. Egypt. Old Canaan. Nineveh. Babylon.

(2) Why should not a blessing be upon the realm? Was not the hand of God conspicuous in the prosperity of Persia (see Ezra 1:2)? At this very time Longimanus began to be successful against a formidable rebellion in Egypt.

3. The happiness of the royal family is concerned.

(1) "Why should wrath be against the king?" The reverses of a nation are reverses to the king. But the king, like his subjects, has his individual responsibilities to God. His elevation no more exempts him than their obscurity conceals them from his claims upon the personal homage of intellect and heart.

(2) Why should wrath be against the king's "sons"? God has set mankind in families, so "the seed of the righteous is blessed." History also shows how families are ruined by irreligion. The antediluvians. The posterity of Nebuchadnezzar (see Daniel 5:5). Money is a prodigious power for evil or for good. Those who have it should never cease to pray for grace to use it wisely. - J.A.M.







Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done.
It is remarkable that some of the richest effusions of poetry in the whole Scriptures proceeded from heathen monarchs, e.g., Darius and Nebuchadnezzar. Consider these words —

I. IN REFERENCE TO THE JEWISH CHURCH.

1. The state of the Jewish Church at this time is not unlike to that in which it was in the days of Ezra. It is impossible to behold them in their religious services, and not to see how thick s veil is yet upon their hearts. Nor do they manifest any respect for their own law in its sublimer precepts. Of real holiness of heart and life they are ignorant in the extreme.

2. But to us is given, no less than to Ezra, a command to advance their welfare.

3. In this work we should engage with all diligence (Romans 11:30, 31).

II. IN REFERENCE TO THE CHURCH WHICH IS AMONGST US.

1. We need to have God's work advanced in our midst.

2. We ought to engage in this work with our whole hearts. Conclusion

:We ought to obey this imperial mandate —

1. In a way of personal reformation.

2. In a way of ministerial exertion.

(C. Simeon, M. A.)

We may well sit at the feet of Artaxerxes and learn from heathen lips the extent of our duty and the nature of our obligations. We plead for missions.

I. TO ASSIGN SOME REASONS FOR ACTIVE DEVOTEDNESS TO THE CAUSE OF GOD IN THE WORLD.

1. From the Divine authority by which it is enjoined. It "is commanded by the God of heaven." We love to see the estimate of Christian duties from the men of the world. They often take a just measure of our obligations. The law of love to the perishing heathen is clearly laid down. God makes man the medium of His blessings to man. The same God who bids us "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" that we may be saved bids us "go into all the world," etc. We should like to see inscribed over all our missionary institutions the law, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."

2. From the urgent necessity which exists for your exertions.

3. From the fearful consequences of the neglect of this duty. "For why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?"

4. From the success which has attended the fulfilment of this duty.

II. TO OFFER SOME SUGGESTIONS AS TO THE SPIRIT AND MODE IN WHICH THIS WORK SHOULD BE CARRIED ON.

1. Earnestly, without remissness. "Let it be diligently done."

2. Prayerfully.

3. Speedily.

(Samuel Thodey.)

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