Text: Ezra 7:1-10

Last Sunday, I was privileged to witness year-end dinner of the Taber Tots class. We thank God for the three students in the Taber Tots. They are young Elijah (son of Preacher Micah Yap and Deborah), Asherrie (daughter of Amos and Alethea) and Phebe (daughter of Nick and Yan Fang). What a joy to see the children grow up! Our prayer is for them to mature into faithful believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

At the same time, we must not forget the importance of the teachers in our Sunday School classes. We are thankful for their dedication in teaching the children the Word of Everlasting Life. We desire that the Lord will raise up more teachers from our midst in the same mould of the renowned teacher Ezra, who is described in the Scriptures as “a ready scribe” (Ezra 7:6).

The adjective “ready” (māhir) describes a person who is prepared, well-versed and dedicated to the task at hand. We see these characteristics eminently exhibited in the ministry of Ezra.

Called to Teach

The events of Ezra 7 took place in 458 B.C. (c.f. Ezra 7:8). 57 years had passed since the completion of the temple under the high priest Joshua and governor Zerubbabel. However, it is no use to have the temple for worship if there were no faithful worshippers. Thus, there was a need for teachers who were called of God to instruct the people faithfully in the law of God.

In the Old Testament time, God ordained the Aaronic priesthood and the Levites to be the teachers of His Word. The genealogy in verses 1-5 shows that the lineage of Ezra goes back to Zadok and Aaron. Thus, Ezra was not only a Levite, but also from the high priestly line. The genealogy was proof that Ezra had authority from God to teach God’s Word.

The authority of Ezra was further emphasised when “the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.” (Ezra 7:6) “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1) The fact that the king permitted Ezra religious freedom to teach the Scriptures show that God’s seal of approval was upon him. Similarly, a ready teacher for the Sunday School must be one who is called to teach. He would receive a godly call and desire to instruct others in God’s Word, and his call would also be recognised by the leaders of the church and the congregation.

Apt to Teach

A person who is called to teach will be given the spiritual gift of teaching. In what way was Ezra apt to teach?
Firstly, Ezra was an avid student of God’s Word. The Scriptures tell us that Ezra had set his heart to “seek” (dārash) the law of God. The term “dārash” describes a whole-hearted and careful search of the Scriptures. Thus, Ezra was highly knowledgeable in the doctrines of the Bible. In application, Sunday School teachers must also begrounded firmly in the truth. To teach God’s Word, they must first be devoted students of the Bible themselves. Therefore, all teachers ought to be engaged in a systematic study of God’s Word. They should regularly attend Bible studies and fellowship group meetings. Sunday School teachers are also strongly encouraged to take classes in the Far Eastern Bible College. Better still if they take the modules for credit. They should spare no effort in learning God’s Word. The teacher must know more than the student! The teacher also must do his or her best to prepare the lesson for the week. Slip-shod lessons will not be blessed by the Lord.

Secondly, Ezra was a practitioner of God’s Word. Not only was he whole-hearted in studying God’s Word, he was equally devoted and obeying it. How many students refuse to listen because their teachers do not walk the talk? Therefore, it is vital that teachers be a model of the teachings of the Scriptures. For example, if we teach our students to pray without ceasing, and yet are absent from prayer meetings, how do we expect the students to be committed to prayer?

Thirdly, Ezra was also skilled and effective in instructing God’s Word to others. We have seen earlier how the adjective māhir describes Ezra as one who is skilled and well-versed in teaching. The effectiveness of Ezra’s teaching is also seen in the religious reform that is described in the later chapters of Ezra. Guided by the Holy Spirit working through Ezra, the people grew in their understanding and love of the truth. Similarly, the Bible teacher today must also be effective in instructing students the doctrines of God’s Word. The litmus test for a teacher is whether his students know the Scriptures better when they first started learning under him. If the students are confused, we know that he is not apt to teach God’s Word.

Prepared to Teach

Ezra was also a “ready scribe” because he was always prepared to instruct the people when the opportunity arises. The Bible tells us in verse 10 that he also “prepared his heart . . . to teach in Israel statutes and judgements”. In the New Testament age, the pastor-teacher is also demanded to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2) He must always be on standby to teach the Word of God, even in the most inconvenient times of the day. Indeed, members should be able to call the pastor anytime!

The same principle applies to the Sunday School teachers. They are not just Sunday School teachers in the classroom but also out of it. They must be ready to answer questions concerning the Bible whenever the students ask them. They should also be sensitive to any “teachable moments” where they may impart Biblical principles to their charges. For example, two students may be fighting outside of class. This may be a good opportunity for the teacher to teach the students what it means to love and forgive one another in Christ Jesus. Seize every opportunity to teach.


Today’s passage is not only applicable to Sunday School teachers, but also all who are parents. As a parent, you are responsible for teaching your child the Word of God. Therefore, you are also required to be a ready teacher. “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7) How prepared are you to teach your children?

On the other hand, we thank God for the teachers in our midst who labour hard for the Lord. We pray for the Lord to raise up more to join them in their endeavour for Christ. However, teachers must never be appointed hastily but observed carefully to see if they are ready teachers in the mould of Ezra. May the Lord give us such men for the blessing of the church!

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew