I. Chained By Christ – God’s gracious call in salvation
William Newell (d. 1956) buried near Leesburg, Fl described the way I viewed my life apart from Christ by writing:
Years I spent in vanity and pride, Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free; Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.
By God’s Word at last my sin I learned; Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.
How many years did I spend in vanity and pride caring not my Lord was crucified? Almost 24. Brought the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, by Christ’s words from John 15:5
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. ” (John 15:5, ESV)
II. Chained To Christ – God’s gracious call of sanctification
“When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” ” (Acts 11:18, ESV)
“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. ” (John 17:17, ESV)
ABC’s of God’s Word
III. Chained For Christ – God’s gracious call to service
Ezra came from a long line of priests, linking him all the way back to Aaron (vv 1-5). The fact that many names are left out in this genealogy only stresses the importance of connecting Ezra to Aaron. As a scribe (Heb. soper) in the Second Temple Period, Ezra spent his days studying, translating, interpreting, and copying the biblical text. Moreover, he was “skilled” (מָהִיר֙ mahir fr. mahar = to be quick, make haste), which in this instance as well as Proverbs 22:29 it means intellectually sharp or quick-minded. Ezra is skilled in the Law of Moses, the Pentateuch or first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Moreover, this Law is the one that “the Lord, the God of Israel had given” (v 6). “This” Ezra who had found favor from both God and man went up from Babylon to Jerusalem, a trip of about 900 miles, taking about four months (vv 7-9a).
“for the good hand of God was on him, for Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and do it and teach his statutes and rules in Israel.”
I. Study – Neh 8:8 = Ezra interpreted the law (2 Tim 2:15)
II. Practice – Ezra 8:21-23 = I was ashamed to ask (1 Tim 4:7)
III. Teach – Ezra 10:10,11 = Ezra the priest stood up and said (2 Tim 2:2)
What makes this “Call” different from the call all Christians have?
1. While all Christians are called to study and practice, not all are called to teach or preach (Eph 4:11,12; Js 3:1).
2. This Call is an internal compulsion of the heart (1 Cor 9:16)
Paul, a bond servant (Rom 1:1; Gal 1:10), becoming like Him in His death (Phil 3:10), pressing on to obtain that for which he was laid hold of (Phil 3:12-16).
“. . . the δοῦλος, . . . has no possibility of evading the tasks laid upon him but who also has no right of personal choice, who must rather do what another will have done, and refrain from doing what another will not have done . . .” (Kittle TDNT, vol. 2, p. 261).