Summary: Parallels between the Jewish ’reformation’ of Ezra’s day and the Protestant Reformation which began in the 1300’s, culminating in the life of Martin Luther.
The ’reformation’ of the Jewish people in Ezra’s day reminds us of the glorious Protestant Reformation. There are four interesting parallels worthy of our attention:
1. TWO REGENTS
Cyrus and Henry VIII. When William Tyndale was burnt at the stake he offered up a prayer that the Lord would open the eyes of the King of England. God did. Although Henry was never a Protestant in the doctrinal sense of the word, he fell out with the Pope over his divorce to Catherine of Aragon and caused the Church of England to break from communion with the Church of Rome. He ordered the Bible to be placed in every parish church and appointed people to read its pages to the assembling congregations. This had a wonderful affect. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. (Psalm 119:130) God can use even unsaved people to further His sovereign purposes.
2. TWO RELEASES
In Ezra’s day, Judah experienced release from bitter captivity in Babylon. At the time of the Reformation, many souls experienced release from the spiritual chains which popery had forged. Let us consider:
(a) Purgatory - We think of JohannTetzel and the scandal of indulgences. Rome has always robbed her people. She is still doing so.
(a) Prayers - Poor blinded Roman Catholics repeat the Rosary. Think also of the Hail Mary - "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen." Another mantra of popery is the Hail Holy Queen - "Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Almighty, everlasting God, who by the co-operation of the Holy Ghost didst prepare the body and soul of the glorious Virgin-Mother Mary to become a dwelling-place meet for thy Son: grant that as we rejoice in her commemoration; so by her fervent intercession we may be delivered from present evils and from everlasting death." These prayers are the offspring of hell.
(c) Penance - We have read with disgust at how Charles Chiniquy was forced to clean the floors of a monastery with a toothbrush. The annual pilgrimage up Croaghpatrick mountain is both pathetic and tragic. Penance is a direct attack upon the finished work of Christ at Calvary. True Protestants cannot stand idly by while fellow human beings abuse themselves in such a way.
"I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me."
3. TWO RECORDS
King Cyrus recorded his convictions. In 1517, Martin Luther did likewise. He took his 95 theses to Wittenberg Cathedral and nailed them to the door. Click here to read them. As Methodists, we should thank God for Luther - John Wesley was converted through listening to the preface of his commentary on Romans.
4. TWO REAPPEARANCES
The LORD’s promise in Jeremiah 29 is prominent in Ezra 1. Scripture was central. This was also the case in the Reformation. The Bible reappeared and became accessible to the common people once again. Revelation 10 speaks of this - "And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he had in his hand a little book open." For centuries the papacy had withheld God’s Word from the populace but it was now available to the world once again, distributed widely by means of the newly invented printing press.
Our fathers knew thee, Rome, of old
And evil is thy fame;
Thy fond embrace, the galling chain;
Thy kiss, the blazing flame.
Thy blessing, fierce anathema;
Thy honeyed words, deceit;
Thy worship, base idolatry;
Thy sacrament, a cheat.
The Mystery of Wickedness,
Right surely is thy name;
The Harlot in the Bride’s attire,
As all thy ways proclaim.
No peace with Rome shall be our cry,
While Rome abides the same;
We’ll let her know that Protestants
Will not disgrace their name.
Our martyred Fathers’ dying words
As at the stake they stood
Bid us resist thee to the end,
Words written in their blood.