2011 Workshop on Biblical Exposition

May 11-13, Wheaton, IL
Chad Richard Bresson

Small Group Preparation Worksheet

Ezra 2

[If you have been assigned Ezra 2, Exodus 4:18-31, 2 Samuel 23:8-39, or Matthew 20:1-16, consider plot, characters, setting and verbs. If you have been assigned Psalm 112, Colossians 3:18-4:1, James 2:14-26, or Romans 15:1-13, consider grammar, repetition, and key terms that provide logical sequence.]

1. What is the structure of your Biblical text? How should that structure shape the emphasis of your sermon?

A – Came up from captivity in Babylon, returned to Jerusalem and Judah to town, led by name list (vs. 1-2) B – Men of the people of Israel (3-35) Family list (3-20) Town list (21-35) C – Priests (36-39) D – Levites, singers, and gatekeepers – (40-42) E – Temple servants and sons of Solomon’s servants – (43-57) E’ – Temple servants and sons of Solomon’s servants (58) D’ – Fake sons (59-60) C’ – Fake priests (61-63) B’ – Whole assembly together A’ – Came to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, lived in their towns, identity list Notes: 1. The point of the chiasm lands on the temple and Solomon servants. This continues the temple theme. The temple workers have followed the temple vessels. Temple vessels are the first to return having been the first to go (under Hezekiah). This is the human element to the temple story in Ezra. First the vessels, then the temple workers, the temple people, those responsible for implementing true worship. Interesting… the ark preceded the people into the land. The vessels precede the people back to the temple. But this time, no shekinah glory-cloud. 2. The inclusio of the chiasm begins with “now these were the people”, and ends with “now the priests…”. The inclusio highlights the nature of the point of the book: “came up from captivity” is parallel to “came to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem”. Not only does it parallel, but the inclusios inform each other (the parallels in a chiasm give context to each other). The point of coming out of captivity wasn’t to inhabit Jerusalem but to return to the house of the Lord. There are echoes of Luke’s travel narrative here: “going to up to Jerusalem” landed Christ in the temple. 3. This structure highlights people, land, and temple. These are the dominant themes of the Covenant and Israel. God’s throne, God’s people, God’s place… all revolving around “temple”. 4. The temple theme, even among the servants, furthers the eschatological hope resident in the temple idea. The eschatological hope will be accomplished through the exodus-salvation of people. 5. The questions regarding the temple: who are the people of God? Who will work in his temple? 6. The “fake sons” and “fake priests” are contextualized by the temple. There is still a concern about the sheep and the goats. There are those who are true worshippers and those who are not. There is a


8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

necessary “in” and a necessary “out” in true worship by the true people of God; divinely orchestrated, by mention of the Urim and Thummim, 1 Sam. 14:36-37, 23:9-12, 37-8; the high priest carried U&T. True worship from true people is a theme carried through the rest of the book, and landing in the mixed marriage problem. There will be priests in the house of God. More important than simply “people” returning to the land. Mediation between God and people, especially in atonement, is at the heart of the practice of true religion. The lists then function as an apologetic for those who were authorized to restore eschatological hope via temple building and atonement. The combination of temple workers appears once in the New Testament in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 (people, Levite, priest; Samaritan, Levite, priest). 12 leaders in verse 2, representative of twelve tribes. They gave “out of their ability”, foreshadows the paradigm for giving in the New Covenant. Zerubbabel is in the line of Jesus (Luke 3:27). Workers are supporting Messianic line. “The Fastest 70 verses in the Bible”. :-)

2. What is the immediate context of your text? How does it inform the meaning of your text? 1. Ezra is a continuation of the book of Chronices. Shares the last verse of Chronicles in Ezra 1. 2. Book has the feel of a new, less glorious exodus; Israel is in a foreign country. Cyrus, rather than Pharoah, tells Israel to leave to go worship their God. 3. Re-establishment of Israel’s temple and religion precedes city building, and precedes a return to the land, highlighted in vessels returning before people. Israel’s crisis point of moral failure leading to the exile was her abandonment of true religion and pursuit of idolatry. Idolatry was at the heart of covenant breaking. People, land, and law themes serve the greater theme of temple. 4. Motif despoiling and Plundering of the Egyptians, Ex. 3:21-22, 11:2, 12:35-36. Rather than the “goal” being the promised land, the “goal” is the temple. The rebuilding will be funded by the oppressors of God’s people. 5. The Exodus theme carries through the entire book. Everything is a reenactment of the exodus from Egypt and the journey and settlement of the promised land. The difference is in degree. There is loss here. There is a sense of “things aren’t like they were”. This is a much less glorious “exodus”. But this exodus is not so much about land as it is about temple. 6. Ezra is the new Moses carrying the law of God to the people 7. The temple rebuilding is divinely orchestrated. 8. The place of tabernacle – temple: God’s throne’s footstool is mercy seat, God’s shekinah glory-cloud presence; however, both glory-cloud and “throne” (the ark of the covenant) is missing in Ezra, especially at the climax of the story in 6:16-22 9. The altar building of chapter 3 presents an atonement theme to the book. This is picked up in the climax of the story, where sin offering is made. True worship accounts for the necessity of cleansing from sin in a soteriological/eschatological way. True worship cannot occur unless the sin factor has been dealt with, i.e. God’s wrath has been satisfied, the sin has been covered, and forgiveness has been given. 10. Ezra 3 anticipates Ezra 6. There is a celebration of the foundation being laid, but the flow of the rebuilding is interrupted by opposition. This celebration lands in chap. 6 with the Passover. The praise of 3 is mixed with weeping… again, more of the incompleteness theme that dominates this book. 11. The names become important in the redemptive-historical indicative of the book: 5:10. 5:10 is redemptive-historical backdrop, placing the entire book within the rubric of Israel’s history of salvation.

12. Ezra 6:19-22 point of chiasm? Kept Passover and there was joy. Passover central to re-establishment of temple and religion. Passover connects Ezra with Exodus, connects the people with those who were “saved” out of Egypt, connects this group of people to the grand story of redemption. Passover, with its tie to the Feast of the Unleavened bread, notes the cleansing of the atonement and the separation between the sheep and the goats (death of Egyptian firstborn, sanctifying doorposts)… already noted in the “who’s in and who’s out” of Ezra 2. 13. Panels separated by dates, literary markers: Ezra 1:1, 3:1, 4:1, 5:1, 6:1, 7:1, 10:8 14. Temple becomes venue for covenant renewal, Solomon’s prayer of dedication set over against Ezra’s corporate confession. 15. Worship begins without the temple (3:1); certainly this is jolting… temple not necessary. 16. There is opposition to true worship and true people of God. 17. Ezra is *prophet*, *priest*, and *king*… Ezra, who is in the priestly line, is given rule over the temple building and the exiles (7:25), highlighted as a scribe/prophet who proclaims the Word to the people. Proclamation, mediation, and Rule are resident in Ezra. 18. Sense of incompleteness; things are not as glorious as Solomon. The book ends on a downer. There is anticipation of something greater coming. Sense of dissatisfaction. There is also a theme of continued disobedience, even after the return from the exile. Messiah is anticipated in the sense of incompleteness and less-than-glorious temple return. 3. How does the melodic line (or main theme of the entire book) inform the meaning of your specific text? Understanding the “re-establishment of temple” storyline is necessary to make sense of the lists. This isn’t simply a return to the land. This is a return to “temple-city”, where God dwells (7:15). These “people lists” find their end in the temple (7:24). It gives a temple-orientation to the “people” who come up out of captivity and come to the house of the Lord. These “people” are contextualized by temple. Even general populace have something to do with “temple” (1:5). 4. How does this text anticipate the Gospel or connect to redemption history? How might your text speak to the need for redemption? [Consider typology, irony, antithesis, how your text exemplifies the Gospel, etc.] More importantly, what does this text have to say about Jesus Christ, the Messiah? How does this text speak to the need for the Person and Work of Jesus? Both movement of the inclusios at the beginning and end and the middle of the chapter are anticipating a Messiah who would be all of these things, only “better than”. These temple workers prefigured Jesus in their roles. He’s anticipated in the temple workers, the Levites, the priests, the gatekeepers, Solomon’s servants. Christ is the supreme temple worker who far surpasses the imperfect work accomplished by this band of exiles. Christ is not simply building his temple, he is working in his temple. The city-temple anticipates the folding of two themes into one, as temple expands to include city and world (Revelation 21:1ff). 5. What is the theme of your text? [The theme is one sentence stating the ‘big idea’ of this passage.] God has provided his temple with workers to do the work of the ministry, including the building up of the temple, through the exodus-salvation work of the Ultimate Temple Worker.

6. What is the aim of your text? [The aim is the author’s intended application or a relevant implication of the text.] Christ, the Ultimate Temple Worker in building a new temple-city as the Temple, is anticipated in Ezra 2 in the temple workers who have come up out of Babylon in a recapitulation of the exodus to the temple. The “work” of the temple and Israel’s worship is represented in the various functions of the workers. Christ does what they don’t. The inferior has given way to the better. Christ is “better than” all of the priests, Solomon’s servants, and temple servants. All of the work they were doing is no longer needed because of Jesus’ finished work. We rest because he worked. And because he has worked on our behalf, we now serve in the “temple”, because he first served. We look forward to the temple-city of Revelation 21-22, even as we taste of its reality in the already/not yet.

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