13 On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered round Ezra the teacher of the Law to give attention to the words of the Law. ” NIV

It is interesting to read Ezra 7, and see how great the link is between this man and the Law of God. (See especially  verses 6, 10, 11, 14). I remember Timothy Dudley Smith, in his masterful two-volume biography of John Stott, referring to verse 10, and likening Stott to this Old Testament teacher and leader:

‘’For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.’’

He emphasised the word order, and observed that John Stott, like Ezra, was devoted to studying, and obeying, and teaching the Bible. Before speaking it, he wanted to live it. He sincerely desired to be a Christian, and not just talk about it.

Is it surprising then, that such a serious Bible man as Ezra, had gathered around him others who were also deeply serious about Scripture? (Verse 13 – see also verse 18).

I said yesterday that our relationship to the Bible must be more than academic.

Today, I want to add that it’s got to be more than just superficial. Determine not to be an ‘ice-skater’ reader who just whizzes across the surface of Scripture. Years ago, I read a book about the church in Cambodia. One story has always stayed with me. It concerns a young man called Hom. Every day he worked in the fields. But when he stopped for his lunch break, it was said he took out his Bible and read it out loud, slowly, carefully, as if cherishing and embracing each word.

The first Christians in Jerusalem ‘’devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…’’ (Acts 2:42). May we do the same.