Ezra and Nehemiah weren’t exactly model characters for godliness and reform. So what can we learn from their stories? Listen to the podcast, reflect on some questions, and go deeper into study on your own or with a group. If you're participating in our reading plan One Story that Leads to Jesus, this Reflections Bible Study lines up with week 29.
Once you've listened to the short podcast, take time to reflect on these questions.
What are some behaviors that might show another follower of Jesus that they belong in the family of God?
What are some behaviors that could exclude or alienate another follower of Jesus from your community?
What is one small step you can take today to encourage someone else’s sense of belonging?
If you would like to dive deeper, use these Scriptures and questions for personal study or small group discussion.
How did Carissa’s message challenge or encourage you today?
Yahweh warned Israel not to tie themselves to foreign gods through marriage. But when those same foreigners left their gods to honor him, Yahweh welcomed them with open arms. Yahweh’s people were not as welcoming. Ezra and Nehemiah loved God, but they were misguided to exclude foreigners from joining God’s people. Since Ezra and Nehemiah weren’t exactly models for godliness and reform, what can we learn from their stories? How can we welcome others in the family of God who are different from us?
As you review these two passages, compare who is quoted in each text. What are they saying to exclude or include? What words or phrases especially stand out to you?
Those who sought to help were early Samaritans who worshiped Yahweh outside the temple in Jerusalem. Compare Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman in John 4:4-41 with the leader's interactions with the Samaritans in Ezra 4:1-3. What do you observe?
Review today's passage from the prophet Isaiah. Many people feel like outcasts. What does God want them to understand about their belonging and his promises?
Jesus overturned tables to make room for the outcast to be restored to God’s community. Compare Matthew 21:12-14 and Isaiah 56:7. What do these passages have in common? How does Jesus’ passion to make room for all nations impact you today?