Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Evening Sermon Notes -

Ezra: Following God For Reconstruction After Group Defeat
Part XIII: God's Practical Guidance For Leaders With Overwhelming Burdens
(Ezra 10:2-44)
  1. Introduction
    1. Husbands, parents, church leaders, employers and government officials can face burdens so great in their oversight positions that it can be hard for them to know what to do, let alone to be able to function well.
    2. God is sensitive of such human needs in these cases, and exampled for us in Ezra 10:2-44 the path that overseers with overwhelming responsibility burdens must take to succeed in God's assignments for them:
  2. God's Practical Guidance For Leaders With Overwhelming Burdens, Ezra 10:2-44.
    1. Ezra the scribe's great grief over Israel's sin of intermarrying with Gentile spouses had caused him to confess Israel's sins with such heart-wrenching emotion as he cast himself face-down, weeping and praying before the Lord that a huge company of concerned Hebrew exiles gathered around him, Ezra 10:1.
    2. In fact, Ezra was so upset over this sin, even as events began to move toward a national repentance with the leaders of Israel willingly swearing to obey Scripture on the issue (Ezra 10:2-3, 5), Ezra himself had to finish mourning over Israel's unfaithfulness, withdrawing from the throngs around him in the temple area so he might spend the night neither eating nor drinking in a temple apartment, Ezra 10:6 NIV, ESV.
    3. To aid this overwhelmingly burdened, godly spiritual leader, the Lord worked through OTHERS in Israel to give him SUPPORT and needed ADVICE on the RIGHT DIRECTION to LEAD (as follows):
      1. One of the men in the throng, Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, answered Ezra's display of grief by admitting the nation had trespassed against God in taking foreign wives, Ezra 10:2a.
      2. However, he said there was hope for Israel (10:2b), hope for a correction as follows, Ezra 10:3-4:
        1. Shecaniah recommended the nation make a covenant with God to put away their foreign wives and the children born of these wives that would corrupt Israel's holy line providing this recommendation met the approval of Ezra , their leader, and the consent of all who mourned Israel's sin, Ezra 10:3a.
        2. Shecaniah asked that the matter be resolved in full alignment with the Mosaic Law, Ezra 10:3b.
        3. He then encouraged the troubled Ezra to assume the leadership with these steps, Ezra 10:4: (1) He urged Ezra to arise and perform this leadership duty as it was his calling, Ezra 10:4a. (2) He also exhorted Ezra to be strong to do this leadership assignment much like God encouraged Joshua to be strong to lead Israel after the death of Israel's great leader, Moses, Ezra 10:4b with Joshua 1:1-9.
      3. An emotionally incapacitated Ezra followed Shecaniah's recommendation, summoning the lead priests, the Levites and the people around him to take an oath to put away their foreign wives, Ezra 10:5.
      4. With the emotionally upset Ezra having to retire to a temple apartment to keep grieving (Ezra 10:6), he with these other men made a proclamation for the rest of Israel to gather at Jerusalem in three days or have their possessions seized for the temple, Ezra 10:7-8! ( Ryrie St. Bib., KJV, 1978, ftn. to Ezra 10:8)
      5. That third day, the entire nation gathered in accord with the proclamation, and the people sat in the open square before the temple trembling both at the severity of the issue involved and also at the cold December rain that was pouring down upon them, Ezra 10:9 ESV; Ibid., ftn. to Ezra 10:9!
      6. Ezra stood up in line with the leaders' proclamation to tell the people they had trespassed in marrying foreign wives, and he urged them to confess this sin to God and to put away the wives, Ezra 10:10-11.
      7. The people fully agreed in principle with Ezra's call, Ezra 10:12. However, due to the practical issues of the cold rain and the great number of marriages that had to be nullified, they asked that leaders be delegated to handle the individual marital cases back in their various home cities, Ezra 10:13-14.
      8. Only four men opposed this advice, so Ezra with the other leaders followed the majority's suggestion, resolving the issue in Israel over a period of three months, Ezra 10:15-44; Ibid., ftn. to Ezra 10:16-17.
Lesson: When Ezra was so distraught at the sin of the people that it hindered his capacity to lead, GOD motivated OTHER LEADERS and the PEOPLE around him to ENCOURAGE, ADVISE and HELP him ADMINISTRATE his responsibilities as spiritual leader so the nation could progress!

Application: May we who lead with overwhelming burdens trust God to move others to make our paths clear and workable, and may we heed the sound advice and encouragement God leads others to give us!