MAY 21 Chapters 7 and 8 record the coming of Ezra to Jerusalem. Ezra was a priest from the family of Aaron. He was also a ready student of the Law, and a scribe (see Jeremiah 8:8). It took him four months to make the journey of nearly 1,000 miles from Babylon to Jerusalem, but the hand of God was upon him and he prospered. The king decreed that any Jew could go up with Ezra and return to the land. Chapter 8 lists the names of the families and the men that accompanied Ezra on his hazardous trip to Jerusalem. It was important that the Levites go along because it was their duty to study the Word and teach it to the people. Unfortunately, Ezra had to draft some of the Levites, because they did not volunteer to go. No sooner had the teacher of the Word of God arrived than the Word of God began to reveal sin in the land. Ezra discovered that the Jews had mingled with their heathen neighbors and married heathen wives. Because of his sorrow and repentance, the people who knew God's Word began to tremble, fearing what the Lord might do to the feeble nation. Ezra's prayer of confession in chapter 9:6-15 should be compared with Daniel's prayer (Daniel 9) and the prayer of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9). Ezra said, "...O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee...." It is interesting to note that Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah all had to confess national sin and plead for forgiveness. However, it was not enough for the religious leaders to pray. The entire nation had to face its sin and make matters right with God. Chapter 10 covers the cleansing of the nation. There was a definite revival in Jerusalem. God answered Ezra's prayer by touching and convicting the hearts of the people. You may want to read Nehemiah 8:8-13 for some parallel accounts of this revival.