“What Does it Take to Change the World?”
Ezra 7

How many of us would like to see the world change? For the better I mean. Isn’t that the premise of the Christian faith? Changing lives and thus changing the world? The movie “Evan Almighty” has a great suggestion, from Morgan Freeman, who plays “God.” Let’s watch it, 


If you haven’t noticed my license plate reads, “DO1ARK.” Doing an act of random kindness happens to be one of the ways to change the world, found in today’s Scripture. In chapter 7, Ezra demonstrated the most effective way to change the world. His three step process on how it is done goes like this:

First – study the Bible, 
Second – do the Bible and 
Third – teach the Bible. 

The church and the world don’t need more fancy preachers, mega-churches, or cool programs. What the church and the world really needs is more people who know God. The best way to know God is:

First – study the Bible, 
Second – do the Bible and 
Third – teach the Bible. 

Today we actually get to meet Ezra. In the first six chapters Ezra described the first wave of returnees to Jerusalem, with a decree from Cyrus king of Persia. Those that returned were met with opposition to rebuilding the temple, city and wall.  
In chapters 7-10, Ezra will describe a second wave which was like a carbon copy. There was a decree from the king of Persia, Artaxerxes, this time, followed by another group of returnees, and also followed by opposition, although an internal opposition this time. 

The first five verses give us the lineage of Ezra. Which, if one was going to lead the Israel nation, it certainly did help to be of good lineage. Not that being a descendant of Aaron made Ezra perfect, as Aaron was reprimanded for ditching God and building a calf out of gold, when he thought Moses had been gone too long on Mount Sinai. Being of the lineage of Aaron was more of a statement of the faithfulness of God than of anything Ezra may have done. 
For some reason humans have placed importance on who our parents were? Nature or nurture? With God, there is hope regardless. The Bible teaches us that we are all created in the image of God, Genesis 1:26-28; we all sin, Romans 3:23, and whoever calls on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, will be saved, Romans 10:13. It’s not about us, it’s about God. The nation of Israel was chosen because it was the smallest of all nations, Deuteronomy 7:7. God has a thing about choosing the weak, Paul writes about it in 2 Corinthians 1:

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus,”

Yet, as we continue to read in chapter 7, verse 6, Ezra had been faithful in keeping with his ancestors. 

“He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given.”

The first step in making a change in the world. Ezra had studied the Torah, God’s Word at the time, and knew his way around it, inside and out. Not only did he know the Scripture, he was able to use it to answer questions and lead the people.

Verse 6 continues with,  “The king had granted him everything he requested.” 

Not only was Ezra well versed in the Torah, he was actively seeking the kingdom of God as an official in the Persian court. 
Artaxerxes didn’t arbitrarily give Ezra whatever he wanted. Ezra had obviously worked his way up in the court, much like Joseph did with Potipher and like Daniel, Esther and Mordecai in the Persian courts. 

We read more about Ezra in verse 10,

“For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.”

Let’s step back a moment and look at how Ezra fits into the space and time God has him. Ezra does indeed come from the part of God’s people who ministered at the temple and taught the Bible to God’s people, back in Jerusalem. But the people rebelled, and ended up being captured and sent into exile in Babylon. 

Now, we have Ezra, a priest who was called to be holy, not in a holy place, but in exile, in Babylon, the capital of the evil empire and he was serving the king of this evil empire. Not an easy task. 

Ezra does his research. He realized what the people of God needed. They needed to be freed from bondage, and to return to the Promised Land. In order for that to happen, they would need an army, walls, and a great leader. Check out what Ezra did to accomplish this, we just read it, he devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” Would that have been your strategy? It was Ezra’s. Ezra decided what he needed to do was

First – study the Bible, 
Second – do the Bible and 
Third – teach the Bible. 
How often have we heard from the Christian community something like:

“What America needs is a revival.”
“We could use another Billy Graham.”

Life today is quite similar to what Ezra was experiencing. We live in a hostile culture and we want to share the truth of God. 

I suggest we follow the example of Ezra:

First – study the Bible, 
Second – do the Bible and 
Third – teach the Bible. 

Sure, we would love to see the Church grow. 

We keep searching for programs and strategies that will work but when it comes right down to it, nothing is more effective than the power of the living and active Word of God. The Living Bible says it like this in Psalm 119:118,

“But you have rejected all who reject your laws. They are only fooling themselves.”

Want to change the world? 

Set your heart to learn the Word. 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

People need Jesus. 

Jesus is revealed in the Bible. The Spirit uses the Bible to open eyes to see Christ. Romans 10:17
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”
Wherever God has us, regardless of whether we are working for the king or for Hannaford, we can follow Ezra’s example and change the world by taking on three tasks with God’s Word: study, do and teach. 
Today as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, let us celebrate the Word. Let us commit to studying the Word, doing the Word and teaching the Word. Then watch for God to change the world. 

Let’s pray.