As a Christian, I know we shouldn't have a "canon within the canon", but I'll admit, I just can't get worked up over Ezra. I love Malachi. I could for a long time on 2 Peter. I can even find stuff in Leviticus worth reading, but try as might, I just don't see anything interesting in Ezra. Understanding that I really do see theology in really obscure places, can someone help me see what is theological about this book?
closed as too broad by Mr. Bultitude, Nathaniel♦, curiousdannii, DJClayworth, El'endia Starman♦ Sep 26 '15 at 18:54
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You, my friend, have a hard heart if you can't find anything interesting in Ezra. ;-)
And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD, according to the directions of David king of Israel. And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD,
“For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”
And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people's weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.—Ezra 3:10-13 (ESV)
To me, this is a picture of the joy we will have in the Lord when He brings this age to a close and we enter the age that will last forever.
The entire book tells the story of God's influence in world history even in the operation of a worldly empire. Since the Second Temple was rebuilt, Jesus was able to enter it and, ultimately, bring the Mosiac Covenant to a close.
I was reading the last page of the Catholic Catechism where it gives the abbreviations for all the books in the Bible and I noticed
macc 2, but not
macc 1. So, if you want a book that isn't even mentioned in the Catechism but is included in our canon, there's your book.
My next thought was of this question and I wondered whether Ezra is referenced in the Catechism and by golly it is.
New International Version (NIV)
6 and prayed:
“I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. 7 From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today.
8 “But now, for a brief moment, the LORD our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place[a] in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. 9 Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.
10 “But now, our God, what can we say after this? For we have forsaken the commands 11 you gave through your servants the prophets when you said: ‘The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other. 12 Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them at any time, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance.’
13 “What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins deserved and have given us a remnant like this. 14 Shall we then break your commands again and intermarry with the peoples who commit such detestable practices? Would you not be angry enough with us to destroy us, leaving us no remnant or survivor? 15 LORD, the God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.”
Is referenced by CCC 2585:
From the time of David to the coming of the Messiah texts appearing in these sacred books show a deepening in prayer for oneself and in prayer for others.
I'd say that's not devoid of theological content, it's actually pretty powerful stuff.
This answer is incomplete - but I'm not sure how to resolve it. It is based on a sermon I heard a long time ago. Please help make it better if you can - if not downvote or perhaps delete?
This is not an answer to the whole question, but here is one interesting lesson from Ezra. It answers the question: should we trust in God completely or allow humans to help? E.g. should we only pray for healing or allow doctors to intervene?
Nehemiah asked for and got help from the king, though he acknowledged God's hand:
And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests. So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.
By contrast, Ezra was ashamed to ask for help, so he relied on God:
There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.
So both are supported in scripture by men of faith and a God of grace.