With its emphasis on the Torah, the story of Ezra is linked with the story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt and their identity as the people of God. While Ezra prays for changed hearts and the forgiveness of sin, he looks forward to the Messiah and the fulfillment of all God’s promises.
Haggai is pressed into service to offer a prophetic voice to the crisis detailed in Ezra. To those Israelites who returned from exile to Jerusalem and faced an external opposition to the rebuilding of the temple, he encourages a relucatant people to give to an ailing fabric fund while reminding them of the Mosaic legacy and the Messianic promise.
Robert Fyall highlights the contemporary parallels of the challenges Israel faced to those of today’s church, and demonstrates the relevance of the books of Ezra and Haggai for God’s people in all times. While Ezra is rarely, if ever, preached on and Haggai gets an even shorter consideration, the message of these books—the need for obedience to God’s word and for openness to His Spirit—is one which needs to be heard clearly today.
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“Rather, the concern is for the abiding presence of God among his people who are honouring him by lives as well as lips.” (Page 29)
“The implication here is something more than that Ezra was knowledgeable. Rather he had a clear and thorough grasp of the Torah and an ability to teach it and help others to understand.” (Page 101)
“Essentially what is at stake here is distinctiveness. Israel was called to be a holy people and a light to the nations. This meant resistance to anything which diluted the Torah and failed to conform to its standards. Such battle is to be fought in every generation, not least in a world of multi-faith, of syncretism and widespread biblical ignorance.” (Page 76)
“The word which sums it all up is unfaithfulness (v. 4)—a refusal to treat God seriously. Behind the marriage failures lay a more profound failure: a breakdown of the covenant relationship with the Lord.” (Page 123)
Robert Fyall is senior tutor in ministry for the Cornhill Training Course at Scotland. He was director of Rutherford House—a research, training, and publishing center in Scotland for church leaders. He also taught Old Testament at St. John’s College in Durham, England, in addition to pastoring a church there. He is the author of Daniel: Tale of Two Cities, Teaching Amos: Unlocking the Prophecy of Amos for the Bible Teacher, and Now My Eyes Have Seen You: Images of Creation and Evil in the Book of Job.