I took a peak at the news this morning and they were talking about a large conference called Ted happening today in Vancouver BC. They say, “We’ll be seeking to understand what are truly the most significant developments of the last 30 years ... and applying that knowledge to understand what’s ahead. The theme makes it easy for us to reach out to the world’s greatest minds and challenge them to help shape a program better than any in our history — in an unforgettable custom theatre designed for talk.” This conference is a series of 18-minute talks by famous people like Bill Gates, Chris Hadfield just to name a few. With a price tag of $7500 US (from the news report, next years was priced at 8500$), it is sold out.
As we read through Ezra, I love the one verse that talks about Ezra himself. Ezra 7:1-6 “After these things, during the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, 2 the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, 3 the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, 4 the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, 5 the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest— 6 this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him.” Oh that Ezra! “For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.”Ezra the priest, a teacher of the Law, a man learned in matters concerning the commands and decrees of the Lord for Israel.” Yes this Ezra was a man of God.
As I was thinking about this TED thing which I am sure is very interesting, I was thinking about the capacity of our culture to hear. They have decided 18 minutes was long enough for one person to speak. They pack in as much as possible in those precious minutes. So throughout the day a series of speakers will speak on a series of topics and the people will listen. Interesting how there is no deafness to the topics of the world. I have heard from some in the church that we have to keep it simple, lots of stories and I even heard someone say make sure that everyone comes away with one word. I myself think they should come away with “the word” and whatever the Holy Spirit speaks to them.
First of all we must understand this is God’s word we are listening too, not man so the same cultural guidelines do not apply. Ezra had come back to help rebuild but he found there was great sin. They had intermarried with foreign women. The church today has done the same thing by marrying into culture. So here is what they did. This Ezra read from the word of God; day after day he would read. “2 So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. 4 Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam. 5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” For a quarter of the day they would listen to the word and a quarter they would confess their sins and the sins of their forefathers. (Nehemiah 9) and worship. Then they made a binding agreement to separate from neighbouring peoples and to bind themselves to the word of God and to obey carefully all the commands and decrees of the Lord our God.
I can’t help but wonder if Ezra stood up in the church today would any one listen and respond in confession or would TED be more interesting? The right answer is to “stand up and praise the Lord your God who is from everlasting to everlasting.” Nothing has changed as far as our duties before God to confess our sins. The kingdom of God is built on repentance, so repent for the kingdom is near.