June 14 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“And you, Ezra, in accordance with the wisdom of your God, which you possess, appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people of Trans-Euphrates—all who know the laws of your God. And you are to teach any who do not know them.”
~King Artaxerxes of Persia, Ezra 7:25

Israel’s identity is bound up in the worship of the creator God, which is why the temple is such a central part of the biblical narrative. Finally, in approximately 517 BC, some 70 years after the exile, its restoration is completed, and so we enter a period in Israel’s history referred to by scholars as the Second Temple Period.[1] The period lasts until about 70 AD when the temple is destroyed again, this time by the Romans.

Some time after the temple was rebuilt, a man named Ezra arrives in Jerusalem. He is called a “teacher” or a “scribe.” Scribes were a learned and bookish lot. (The Hebrew word translated scribe is literally book.) The best modern-day equivalent would be a Bible scholar or a theologian. I love how Ezra is described: “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” (Ezra 7:10). He is a diligent scholar, who applies God’s Word to his life and teaches others to do the same. With the second temple rebuilt, Ezra is sent to teach the law of God to the people resettling the land. He is responsible for ensuring that the people’s daily lives are regulated by the teaching of Scripture. An enormous (and sometimes frustrating) task awaits him.

The Word is not meant for study alone; it is to be lived! Those who teach the Scriptures are not trying to help people win Bible trivia contests—they are trying to help them to make it real, to make it meaningful, and to make it part of normal life.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does”(James 1:22-25).

All of God’s people, teacher and student, have a responsibility to live out His Word everyday. May God help us do so and be blessed!

[1] As previously mentioned, kings funded projects like this to increase their tax revenues (though the temple itself was exempt) and to create buffer zones between themselves and foreign nations. But they were also superstitious; King Artaxerxes of Persia coveted the blessing of “the God of heaven” on his realm (Ezra 7:21-24).

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.