What makes for a good preacher? No doubt a long list of qualities and characteristics could be given. Some good, such as faithfulness to the Word. Some less good. The Christian should not linger long over this question before we go to Bible to see what God has to say about this.
Ezra was a priest who came out of Babylonia captivity back to Jerusalem after the edict of King Cyrus. We are told that he was very skilled and educated in the Law of Moses, something that for the Israelites coming out of captivity was a rarity. Being moved to a pagan nation took its toll. As the Israelites return, God uses Ezra to bring about what we would call today a revival.
So it is worth exploring, what does God tell us about Ezra that made him and his preaching of the Book of the Law so powerful.
Ezra 7:9-10 gives us four qualities:
- “The good hand of his God was on him.” – First, God was with Ezra. A preacher of God’s word is always dependent on God himself. Without his gracious hand guiding, sustaining, restraining, and empowering, no one could ever dare to speak God’s eternal truths. Any preacher that thinks he’s good in and of himself will soon find otherwise.
- “Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord…” – Second, anyone who would teach God’s word to others must make it his primary task to study and know the Law of the Lord. This is a lifelong pursuit, not just something one does in seminary. God has chosen to make himself known though His word, so if we would know God, we must know Him through His word.
- “…and to do it…” – Mere knowledge of God’s word is insufficient. Every teacher of God’s word must also live obedient to what he finds there. He must submit himself to everything he finds there and seek to live faithfully to the Lord’s commands.
- “…and to teach his statues and rules in Israel.” – Finally, Ezra, as with every worthy preacher of God’s word desires to see God’s worth go forth to the people. His study and obedience is not just for himself, but for others too.