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EZRA 8:24-30

What a Text concerning our Responsibility to Guard the Truth of God's Precious Word!

"Then I separated twelve of the chief of the priests, Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them, and weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering of the house of our God, which the king, and his counsellors, and his lords, and all Israel there present, had offered: I even weighed unto their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels an hundred talents, and of gold an hundred talents; also twenty basons of gold, of a thousand drams; and two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold. And I said unto them, Ye are holy unto the LORD; the vessels are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering unto the LORD God of your fathers. Watch ye, and keep them, until ye weigh them before the chief of the priests and the Levites, and chief of the fathers of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the LORD. So took the priests and the Levites the weight of the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem unto the house of our God."

Ezra 8:24-30

 

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSON 1, VERSE 24:

There was a job to do!

A trip had to be made.

A group of God's people were traveling from Babylon to Jerusalem, a distance of about seven hundred miles!

God had prophesied this journey seventy years earlier.  Jeremiah wrote:  "For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place." Jeremiah 29:10

And they were taking with them a treasure!

One consisting of gold and silver and vessels, all to further the work of God back in Israel.

Ezra, the leader, needed several godly men ... Priests of Israel ... to transport and guard the valuables!

Here is Ezra, in his own words:  "Then I separated twelve of the chief of the priests, Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them ...."  Ezra 8:24

Here are some "chief priests" who loved the Lord!

That's quite unlike those of Jesus' day!

Notice that these men were "separated" unto the work!

The verb here, "badal," is used about 42 times in Scripture.  It can mean "to set apart" or "to withdraw" or "to divide or sever!"

To serve God in any meaningful capacity, one must "come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing ...."  2nd Corinthians 6:17

Talk about Bible "separation" or "consecration" or "dedication!"

Then look at the verse again.  Twelve men were chosen, but only two were mentioned by name.  In every area of God's work, leadership must be a factor.

The leaders were Sherebiah and Hashabiah.

The first name is unusual!  We only meet him in the Old Testament Books of Ezra and Nehemiah.  According to reliable sources the name means "Jehovah has scorched."

It is I believe a picture of what the Jews have endured for seventy years, years of punishment and deprivation and chastisement ... due to their sins!

Then Hashabiah means "Jehovah has considered."  Although God on occasion "whips" his children, it is always a "measured" chastening!

Never more than we can bear!

These men's names represent lessons that should have been well learned in Babylon ... and ought also to be carried back home to Israel! 

And then the nameless brethren, whose numbers are vast, comprise the majority of laborers ... faithfully doing their assigned jobs!  "And then of their brethren with them ...."  Ezra 8:24b

Thank God for responsible servants of the Lord!

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."  1st Corinthians 15:58

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."  Galatians 6:9

"Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."  1st Corinthians 4:2

"Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?" Proverbs 20:6

It sure sounds like God places a high value on faithfulness!

                                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSE 25:

And weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering of the house of our God, which the king, and his counsellors, and his lords, and all Israel there present, had offered. Ezra 8:25

These men were carefully entrusted with some precious material!

Gold, silver and some vessels are all named.

"Gold" in Hebrew is spelled "zahab" and in the King James Bible is translated as "gold" or "golden" 388 times and as "fair weather" one time!  That last one is located in Job 37:22.  Fair weather cometh out of the north: with God is terrible majesty.

Perhaps one of our "treasures" is that of a sweet spirit and kind words! 

Yet again the noun "gold" is first used in Genesis 2:11-12.  There was much gold in the land of Havilah, which means "circle!"  That's a picture of eternity!  Think of the gold in Heaven today!

"Silver" in Hebrew is "keseph" and is found 403 times in Scripture.  But, 112 of those occurrences finds the word translated "money!"

Men of God, people of God ... we MUST handle money in the right way! 

By the way, "silver" is associated with redemption in the Bible too.  Peter, with that thought in mind, said:  "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." 1st Peter 1:18-19

The doctrine of redemption, Blood redemption, must be handled carefully and reverently!

Then the "vessels" are mentioned.  "Kaliy" is used in Scripture in the following ways: instruments, weapons, jewels, armour and even stuff!

We are to care for our ministries and God assigned responsibilities with the utmost  vigilance.  Some saints are jewels and others are weapons ... in the Lord's Hands!

Then notice that all these things, these valuables, are gifts from God through the hands of others!

All we enjoy today is indeed from the mighty Hand of God!

Let us be careful how we guard it!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSES 26-27:

Ezra, writing in the first person relates: "I even weighed unto their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels an hundred talents, and of gold an hundred talents; also twenty basons of gold, of a thousand drams; and two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold."

The verb "weigh" means to pay or to spend!

The noun "hand" translates "yad," a simple Hebrew word with many great implications!  It's the "root" of the Name Judah even!  Therefore it also is the foundation for one of the Hebrew nouns for "praise!" 

The same godly hands that carry the treasures should praise the Lord!  "Thus will I bless Thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in Thy Name" promises Psalm 63:4.

And one's "hands" can also be associated with the Word of God too.  "My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes."  Psalm 119:48

The amount of silver given the Priests to safety transport was 650 talents!  A talent is about a hundred pounds of weight!  That's 65,000 pounds of silver!  In other words, it's a load of 1,040,000 ounces! At today's value of over $9.00 an ounce, that's a lot of value!  It equates to nine and a third million dollars!

And a "talent," from the Hebrew word meaning a "circle," was likely shaped like a round disc for easier handling.  That's how it got its name.

Plus ... in addition to the "cash" ... a hundred more talents of silver vessels!

But now, watch this! 

Gold in the amount of a hundred talents was presented to these men for safe keeping as well!   At $569.00 an ounce, yesterday's market price, we are declaring another ninety one million dollars!

A "dram" is a small measurement of weight, taking 16 of them to make one ounce!    A vessel that weighed a "thousand drams" would equal nearly four pounds.  There were twenty of these ... 80 more pounds of silver!

The noun "copper" is their word for brass.  The two lovely (desirable) vessels of copper were not assigned a specific weight.

All total ... over a hundred million dollars!

What a help this no doubt was in the building of the House of God and the re-establishing of a godly nation back in the Holy Land!

Dear friend today, I do not want this to be a math lesson!

It is a symbol of the worth you carry in your innermost being as a Believer in Christ!

The gold of God the Holy Spirit resides within you!

The silver of redemption rests upon you!

And you are a chosen vessel of service for your Lord and Master!

Be careful ... you are precious in His sight!

                                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 28:

The verse states: "And I said unto them, Ye are holy unto the LORD; the vessels are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering unto the LORD God of your fathers."  Ezra 8:28

These servants of the Lord are required to be holy.

That word, "qodesh" in Hebrew, means dedicated, hallowed or consecrated.

The vessels and utensils themselves certainly had been "set apart" tot he Lord.

Isaiah writes: "Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD."  Isaiah 52:11

That adjective "clean" translates "barar" which means pure or polished or bright!

In its verbal form, "qodesh" means "sanctified."

God's servants are to be sanctified!

That's a ministry performed by the Holy Spirit in this age of Grace.

Plus ... the holy vessels are a "freewill offering" from the people unto the Lord. 

God loves such motives in our giving!

"Nabadah" (freewill offering) means that which is freely or plentifully or voluntarily given!

Then, lastly, notice that the offerings are "to the Lord God of your fathers." This expression is imbued with old fashioned values!

Nothing here sounds like modernism or the contemporary views of some who emphasize a user-friendly God!

I'm staying with the faith of the forefathers!

I don't want to move any of the ancient landmarks!

I do not fear being labeled an old fashioned Bible believing fundamentalist!

The closer we live to the God of our fathers ... the more apt we are to guard the deposit given us, the gold silver and precious vessels of the Lord!

Be faithful!

Be holy!

Amen!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, VERSE 29:

The Apostle Paul reminded Timothy that some things had been placed "in" him by the Holy Spirit!  "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery."  1st Timothy 4:14

Paul even went further and said that the saints of God have a "treasure" invested in them by the Lord.  He was, among other things, talking about the Gospel!  "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."  2nd Corinthians 4:7

Then the old Preacher said to his young "son" in the ministry:  "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee."  1st Timothy 6:20-21

And here's another way he said about the same thing:  "That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us."  2nd Timothy 1:14

The basic word picture behind all these verses is identical to that of Ezra 8:24-30.  The people of God, particularly including his Preachers, have been entrusted with precious treasure!  We must care for it and guard it ... until the battle is over and we are all "home!"

Ezra 8:29, for example, says to the Priests who are transporting millions of dollars in gold, silver and vessels: "Watch ye, and keep them, until ye weigh them before the chief of the priests and the Levites, and chief of the fathers of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the LORD." 

The verb "watch" is a command, an imperative.  It means to stay awake or alert!  It is only found 12 times in the whole Bible!  It is translated "hasten" once in Scripture, Jeremiah 1:12.  Here's one of my favorite occurrences of the word.  Wisdom says:  "Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors."  Proverbs 8:34

"Keep" is "shamar" and means "to hedge about" ... hence "to guard."  Other King James renderings of the word:  mark, save, regard, heed and preserve.

Then our verse reminds the Priests that they must answer for their handling of these valuables!  "Until ye weigh them before the chief of the priests and the Levites, and chief of the fathers of Israel, at Jerusalem."  You men will be held accountable!

Christian friends and Preachers, we will all have to stand before our Lord at the Judgment Seat and be held accountable for our faithfulness!

Paul teaches:  "For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." 1st Corinthians 3:12

Furthermore ... "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."  2nd Corinthians 5:10

Be careful with your "deposit!"

The treasures those Old Testament Priests carried were headed for the House of God!  "In the chambers of the house of the LORD."  Ezra 8:29d

So are ours ... the Father House, where there are many mansions! 

The noun for "chambers" in Ezra is "lishkah" and means cells, halls or rooms. You may remember that all around Solomon's Temple were build storage rooms for supplies for the work of the Lord!

Yes, it is possible to send one's investment on over to the Other Side, to Glory, to Heaven!  Jesus said so!  "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."  Matthew 6:19-21

Be careful with your investment!

It's really not yours ... but the Lord's!

You are just a steward, a caretaker!

That's why we all so badly want to hear the blessed words:  "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."  Matthew 25:21

                                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, VERSE 30:

The Bible records: "So took the priests and the Levites the weight of the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem unto the house of our God."  Ezra 8:30

These Men of God accepted the "call" of God!

They "took" the treasures and began the long dangerous trip to Jerusalem.

The verb "took," in Hebrew "qabal," is only used a dozen or so times in the whole Bible!  It means to receive or accept.  It is shaped as a Piel verb, indicating intensity and fervency of action!

And the verb "bring" is interesting too.  "Bo" in Hebrew means to "come" or to "go" to a certain place.

You will notice the italicized them in the English text.

These Priests knew that if the treasures were ever to successfully arrive in Jerusalem ... they, all twelve of them, must arrive there too!

Their presence guaranteed the security of the godly load they carried!

Men of God, we will never take our people any further than we ourselves are willing to go!

And when finally in town, the capital city, Jerusalem, the city of peace ... where do they report?

To the House of God!

That's always where the Believer will find himself!

Every new city Paul entered, he found the place where the saints gathered!  That is, if there were any saints in town!  "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples ...."  Acts 19:1

Or ... "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."  Hebrews 10:25

What resolve these men had!

What determination!

Sounds like Paul!

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

"But I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."

"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you ...."

May we have the same firmness of will!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7:

And four months later, they arrived!

Safely ... with the treasures safely in tow!

Ezra meticulously records the journey.

"Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way. And we came to Jerusalem ...."  Ezra 8:31-32

Then he adds ... "Now on the fourth day was the silver and the gold and the vessels weighed in the house of our God by the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest; and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas; and with them was Jozabad the son of Jeshua, and Noadiah the son of Binnui, Levites; by number and by weight of every one: and all the weight was written at that time."  Ezra 8:33-34

All the silver and gold and vessels are there!

Not an ounce lost!

Talk about security!

Also please notice that such matters were written in a book!

Detailed facts were preserved!

And ... for these twelve Men of God ... no doubt respect and honor were extended to them all their days!

Men who safely delivered the $100,000,000.00 offering!

                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION:

It is my heart's desire that, after all, I can deliver the "deposit" God has entrusted to me!  Placing it before His Feet on that great Day of His Coming!  At the Judgment Seat of Christ!

"Lord, I guarded the precious Word of God" I would like to say!

And the Virgin Birth was preached faithfully by these lips!

Along with all the fundamentals of the Faith!

And here are a few "preacher boys" you gave me!  They have been true unto Thee as well!

And my wife and family, saved by Thy Grace!

All to Thy Glory!

In fact, "to the praise of the glory of Thy grace!"  Ephesians 1:6

Amen!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

BE FAITHFUL!

 

 

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