How to understand Ezra Chapter 8: List-O-Mania Part II: The Reckoning and 2 Corinthians 5:17
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Still speaking in the first person, Ezra begins this chapter with another long list recording the names of the different heads of families who went with Ezra to Jerusalem during Artaxerxes’ reign. It also lists the number of males who came with each head of family. While this rag-tag team is returning, they stop by a river near Ahava, and Ezra realizes they don’t have any descendants of Levi with them. One needs Levites to run the temple. He organizes a team of leaders and sends them to ask a guy named Iddo and his fellow temple servants at Casiphia to send them ministers for God’s house. The text then lists the names and number of family members of the different ministers they managed to round up. Ezra organizes a fast by the river Ahava in order to gain God’s protection, since he’d earlier refused the King’s offer of cavalry protection, stating that God would defend them. Oops—this better work. Yep, the fast successfully secures their protection. Next, Ezra sets aside twelve priests and puts them in charge of all the treasures, vessels, bowls, and offerings of gold and silver that they’re bringing back to Jerusalem. They’re to guard the stuff until they can weigh them in the chambers of the temple and place them there. After they leave Ahava, God protects them from ambushes. They reach Jerusalem, remaining there three days before presenting the silver, the gold, and the vessels to the temple priests. All the money and bling are accounted for. The returned exiles offer bulls, rams, lambs, and male goats as burnt offerings. They support the people and the temple, and convey Artaxerxes’ orders to the satraps and governors of the province. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!