Daily Word

Faithful to God & calling | Ezra 7:24-26 (NLT)

24 I also decree that no priest, Levite, singer, gatekeeper, Temple servant, or other worker in this Temple of God will be required to pay tribute, customs, or tolls of any kind.’

25 “And you, Ezra, are to use the wisdom your God has given you to appoint magistrates and judges who know your God’s laws to govern all the people in the province west of the Euphrates River. Teach the law to anyone who does not know it. 26 Anyone who refuses to obey the law of your God and the law of the king will be punished immediately, either by death, banishment, confiscation of goods, or imprisonment.”

Ezra 7:24-26 (NLT)

Tax Free Trend

These verses complete the decree of Artaxerxes. I wonder if this tax exemption was an impetus for the tax law in the US (and other countries)  that “religious workers” and churches don’t need to pay income tax? Surely Artaxerxes was being very generous here.

Final instructions

Artaxerxes acknowledges the wisdom resident in Ezra and his ability to govern. My guess is that the legacy of Daniel (Daniel 6:1-4) influenced the king. He may have expected other Israelites, like Ezra, would have similar special abilities. 

He ordered Ezra to set up a government in Jerusalem. I presume there was already a government in place but maybe no one had risen to replace Zerubbabel (who is not mentioned any more after chapter 6). So the king sent Ezra to fill the void. It was clear that one quality for the new governors was they, “know your God’s laws”.

Those who didn’t “know your God’s laws”, Ezra was to teach. As a priestly scribe, this was something Ezra was specifically equipped and gifted to do.

Consequences

The consequences of disobedience to God’s (or the king’s) laws were to be clear and strictly enforced. These were not just suggestions or platitudes the king was commanding; he expected them to be enforced. “No if, and’s, or butts”.

What can we learn?

In Ezra, we see a man who was faithful to the Lord and faithful to his call. He was recognized, even by the king. Same with Daniel. It doesn’t appear that either of them were power-hungry egomaniacs trying to work themselves up the corporate or political (or religious) ladder. Rather, they simply were faithful to God and their call and trusted Him.

Be faithful – billmuehlenberg.com

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