Summary: In these final verses, we see two models we can learn from. We see the model of spiritual leadership that Ezra shows us. And we see the model of faithful followership that the people show us.
Turn with me to Ezra 10
Our passage tonight runs from verse 6 all the way through the end of the chapter. Because the passage is so long, we’re not going to read it to start off with. We’re going to read it as we go along. We have followed our remnant all the way through the book of Ezra. Tonight we come to the end. But it’s not the end of our time with the remnant. We’re going to take a few weeks off from them and then we’ll pick them up again in the book of Nehemiah.
I think one of the prettiest things you’ll ever see is to watch a well trained bird dog on point. If you’ve never seen one, it’s absolutely amazing. Everything in that dog is telling it to jump and run and chase that bird. But his training holds him back. When you watch him, he will stand perfectly still. If you look real close, you can see every muscle is tense, waiting for the command to go. His eyes never move. His ears are perked up. All of his instincts are telling him to flush that bird. But he waits. He waits until his master gives him the command. And when the command comes, he’s gone like a shot from a gun. That’s the way the remnant was. You remember last week we saw how Ezra knew that the people were ready to accomplish the work God had for them. We saw how Ezra fell on his face before the Lord in repentance for the people. And when he did, the people gathered around him. They gathered around him and took responsibility for their sin. And after they took responsibility for their sin, they publicly professed their willingness to turn away from their sin. And when they did that, they made a public commitment to submit to the godly leadership of Ezra and do whatever it took to turn away from their sin and move forward. And once all of that happened, they were like a bird dog on point. They were ready to go. And that’s what the closing verses of this book are about. They were ready to go, but they only went in response to their leader. And when he spoke the word, they went. In these final verses, we see two wonderful models we can learn from. We see the model of spiritual leadership that Ezra shows us. And we see the model of faithful followership that the people show us. First, let’s look at God’s model for spiritual leadership.
We have said many times that God called Ezra to a specific mission. He called him to know His Word. He called him to live out the things that he learned in God’s Word. And He called him to teach the people what he knew from God’s Word. And Ezra was faithful to fulfill his mission. Just like Ezra had a mission, the people had a mission as well. Their mission was to rebuild Jerusalem as a witness and a testimony of the power of God to the nations. God had a purpose for their lives. But they couldn’t fulfill that purpose because they had unrepentant sin in their midst. Know this: If God has called you and saved you, He has a purpose for your life. If you harbor unrepentant sin in your life, you’ll never be all that God wants you to be. God has a purpose for Brushfork Baptist Church. If we harbor unrepentant sin in our midst, we will never be all that God wants us to be. But the remnant was ready. They were ready to get on with what God had in store for them. But in order to do that, they needed a vision. Not a mystical vision. They needed a leadership vision. So they looked to their leader. And when they looked, he cast the vision—and not in a way that you would expect. The first step Ezra took in leading the people was that he prayerfully prepared for the vision. Look at verse 6.
God’s leader prayerfully prepares for the vision. I’ve got stacks of leadership books. One of the books I have is by a Christian author named George Barna and is called The Power of Vision. It has some pretty interesting stuff in it from the corporate business world. But I don’t think Ezra read it. As a matter of fact, if you were to ask most modern leadership gurus about God’s model for spiritual leadership that Ezra exemplified, they’d say it wouldn’t work. That’s why it’s God’s model and not theirs. Because the models that the books all talk about are based on man’s ability. And when you build leadership models from a foundation of man’s ability, you end up with all different ways to manipulate people. But God’s model doesn’t end with manipulating people to get them to do what He wants. His model is the only one that truly changes people. God’s model takes hearts of stone and brings them to life. His model takes old, dead things and makes them new and alive. His model doesn’t bring glory to any man. God’s model of leadership brings honor to Jesus. That’s why the starting point for God’s model of leadership isn’t doing anything. It isn’t physically taking any action or taking steps to solve any problem. It’s purposely surrendering. It’s intentionally giving away any position of strength. It’s releasing any dependence on physical things. Even to the point of giving up food and water. That’s what Ezra did. He knew that he had no strength for the task at hand. Any vision that he cast on his own would be exactly that—his own. He knew Psalm 127:1: “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” Ezra wasn’t into casting a vain vision. So Ezra prayerfully prepared for the vision. He prayerfully prepared for the vision and when he finished, he moved on to the second step of God’s model for spiritual leadership. He prophetically preached the vision. Skip a few verses and look at verses 10-11.