Holistic Joy (Ezra 7)

Sermon Recap

The sovereignty of God stands behind everything that takes place in Ezra 7. Ezra tells us explicitly that God is in control of his circumstances when he says “the hand of God” was upon him, advancing his purposes for Israel (Ezra 7:6, 9, 28). God’s sovereign rule in his life does not cause Ezra pain or angst. Rather, we learn in this story that living under God’s sovereignty gives us holistic joy.

1. Under God’s sovereignty, we live whole.

Ezra is not ashamed of his past; rather, his past makes him fully qualified to serve God and his people as a priest (Ezra 7:1-6). He took who God made him to be and gave himself wholly to service. The testimony of Ezra’s whole life spoke to the goodness and sovereignty of his God (Ezra 7:10). “You do you” was Ezra’s motto, but it wasn’t about self-realization or self-aggrandizement. “You do you” meant that Ezra was free to serve God and his people with all that he had and all that he was.

2. Courageous obedience under God’s sovereignty leads to joy.

Ezra’s embrace of God’s sovereignty was not an abstract principle. Instead, it led him to courageously risk his own well being for the sake of God’s glory (Ezra 7:6). And in courageously obeying God—and seeing God answer his obedience with blessing and faithfulness—Ezra rejoiced in the Lord (Ezra 7:27-28). We can courageously obey God under his sovereign hand because we know Jesus sits at his right hand (Heb. 12:2).

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. Do you believe that God sovereignty rules over all things? Where else does the Bible teach this?

  2. How does the Bible hold God’s goodness and his greatness together? Where do we see these two attributes of God in Ezra 7?

  3. How does Ezra follow “You do you”? How is this advice redeemed in his life?

  4. What areas of your life do you tend to hold back from God? How do you fall short of living “whole” before God, under his sovereignty?

  5. Why should the sovereignty of God give us courage to obey? How does disobedience reveal lack of faith in God’s sovereignty?

  6. Why does Ezra rejoice at the end of the passage? When should we expect to see the same kind of joy in our own lives?