Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leaders from Israel to go up with me. Ezra 7:28
The little Bible college in northern Ghana didn’t look impressive—just a tin-roofed cinder-block building and a handful of students. Yet Bob Hayes poured his life into those students. He gave them leadership roles and encouraged them to preach and teach, despite their occasional reluctance. Bob passed away years ago, but dozens of thriving churches, schools, and two additional Bible institutes have sprung up across Ghana—all started by graduates of that humble school.
During the reign of King Artaxerxes (465–424 bc), Ezra the scribe assembled a band of Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem. But Ezra found no Levites among them (Ezra 8:15). He needed Levites to serve as priests. So he commissioned leaders to “bring attendants to us for the house of our God” (v. 17). They did so (vv. 18–20), and Ezra led them all in fasting and prayer (v. 21).
Ezra’s name means “helper,” a characteristic that resides at the heart of good leadership. Under Ezra’s prayerful guidance, he and his protégés would lead a spiritual awakening in Jerusalem (see chapters 9–10). All they had needed was a little encouragement and wise direction.
That’s how God’s church works too. As good mentors encourage and build us up, we learn to do the same for others. Such an influence will reach far beyond our lifetime. Work done faithfully for God stretches into eternity.
Who is your primary spiritual mentor? (If you don’t have one, who might you ask to mentor you?) Why is mentoring in Christ something vital for you to receive and extend to others?
Father, show me someone I can mentor.
King Artaxerxes decreed that any exiled Israelites who wanted to return to their homeland could do so. Included in the king’s proclamation were priests and Levites (Ezra 7:13). So Ezra began leading a group back to Jerusalem. While traveling, however, he discovered that no Levites were part of the group (8:15). Why did Ezra need Levites? Because Artaxerxes had given Ezra permission to “appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people of Trans-Euphrates—all who know the laws of your God” (7:25). And Ezra was to teach those who didn’t know the laws. This required that Levites be part of the group that returned. They served as officers and judges (1 Chronicles 26:29) and were the ones who taught the law (2 Chronicles 35:3). After Ezra sent for Levites to join them, God’s “gracious hand” brought them home to Jerusalem (Ezra 8:18, 31–32).