Monday, September 17, 2018

Write It Down

Write It Down
September 17, 2018
Ezra 7:10:  "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 is a small book of the Bible, coupled with the books of the prophets. If you were able to ask Ezra, he would probably not have considered himself a prophet. He was, however, an impressive man of God. He was one of the Jewish leaders in the time of occupation. Much like in the time of Jesus the Romans occupied and ruled over Israel, the king of Persia was in charge. But Ezra found favor with the foreign king, and somehow found himself as the head of the Jewish state. A more correct interpretation of Ezra would put him as a figure head over the Jews, with no real authority. Not born as a king, Ezra was a priest, a direct descendant of the first priest Aaron. He was first a priest by occupation, and as a priest he was a scribe and teacher by default. The Bible says he was an impressive teacher, an expect in the Law of Moses. Researches, however, call him a scribe. He was both.

One does not simply become an expert by accident, or adept at anything difficult without trying. His resume, as suggested by the Bible, lists his skills as understanding scripture, living out scripture, and teaching scripture. Also noted on his resume was his ability to read and write, extremely well, able to take dictation and scribe letters, in several languages. Ezra was not a warrior, or a charismatic leader, he was a book worm. He devoted himself to the study of the Scriptures. Never intending to be a leader, he probably felt most comfortable with his books, some candle light, and maybe some paper to jot down notes. If you look through the Bible, though, he is most often associated with being a prophet and with being a scribe. The Bible calls him an expert in the law and a teacher but somehow he is not known to us in that way. If you consider his pathway, though, on how he become known, you must understand his beginnings.

Part of the priestly duties were reading the scriptures out loud and writing them down for others. The ink back then did not last long, so they had to constantly re-write out the Scriptures. As well, many smaller versions of the manuscripts were needed and used by the priests to teach others, so they often had to write out significant portions of the Scriptures over and over again. He spent many hours, by default, writing out the Bible, tediously and meticulously. If you want to guess how he became so good at understanding the Scriptures, you can understand that much of it came from patiently copying it over and over again.  He could not have been able to be an expert at applying Scripture if he first did not have such a deep understanding of it. He could not have been such an amazing teacher if he first was not able to apply it in his own life. Say it all another way. He was such a good teacher because he lived it. He was able to live it, because he knew it and understood it. He was able to understand it because he spent countless years of his life writing it down. He would not have become the leader he was unless he started out as a book worm and a scribe. He was an impressive leader because he first started writing out the Bible.

Translate that over into daily life and I wonder how much more impact full a Christian we would be if we wrote out Scripture, understanding it to the depth of Ezra. Sure, you might read it, maybe even study it a bit, but have you written it out on paper, tediously and meticulously, so you know it like the back of your hand? There is a strange connection with your cognitive understanding and ability to memorize something when you write it down. We know this when studying for a college exam, but how many of us have done this with Scripture, for no other reason than writing it down. If you look at how Ezra had to write it out, it was a slow process, making the characters with his ink pen after dipping it in ink multiple times for the same word even.  He didn't type it; he spent hours on the same page, literally hours copying down one page worth of material. Accept this challenge to copy down even one small book of the Bible by hand and see if it does not illuminate your understanding of Scripture and effect your Christianity. If you want to take your impact up a level, start copying Scripture down and see how much better you will be able to apply it to your life.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Ezra 7

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