Old Testament 2022
July 18–24. Ezra 1; 3–7; Nehemiah 2; 4–6; 8: “I Am Doing a Great Work”

“July 18–24. Ezra 1; 3–7; Nehemiah 2; 4–6; 8: ‘I Am Doing a Great Work’” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Old Testament 2022 (2021)

“July 18–24. Ezra 1; 3–7; Nehemiah 2; 4–6; 8,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: 2022

temple of Zerubbabel

Illustration of the temple of Zerubbabel, by Sam Lawlor

July 18–24

Ezra 1; 3–7; Nehemiah 2; 4–6; 8

“I Am Doing a Great Work”

President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “The word of God … has the power to fortify the Saints and arm them with the Spirit so they can resist evil, hold fast to the good, and find joy in this life” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson [2014], 118).

Record Your Impressions

The Jewish people had been held captive in Babylonia for about 70 years. They had lost Jerusalem and the temple, and many had forgotten their commitment to God’s law. But God had not forgotten them. In fact, He had declared through His prophet, “I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return” (Jeremiah 29:10). True to this prophecy, the Lord did make a way for the Jews to return, and He raised up servants who accomplished “a great work” for His people (Nehemiah 6:3). These servants included a governor named Zerubbabel, who oversaw the rebuilding of the house of the Lord; Ezra, a priest and scribe who turned the hearts of the people back to the Lord’s law; and Nehemiah, a later governor of Judah who led the work of rebuilding the protective walls around Jerusalem. They met opposition, of course, but also received assistance from unexpected sources. Their experiences can inform and inspire ours, because we too are doing a great work. And like theirs, our work has much to do with the house of the Lord, the law of the Lord, and the spiritual protection we find in Him.

For an overview of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, see “Ezra” and “Nehemiah” in the Bible Dictionary.

personal study icon

Ideas for Personal Scripture Study

Ezra 1

The Lord inspires people to bring about His purposes.

After Persia conquered Babylonia, the Persian king, Cyrus, was inspired by the Lord to send a group of Jews to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. As you read Ezra 1, note what Cyrus was willing to do to support the Jews in this important work. How do you see the Lord working through men and women around you, including those who are not members of His Church? What does this suggest to you about the Lord and His work?

See also Isaiah 44:24–28.

Ezra 3:8–13; 6:16–22

Temples can bring me joy.

When the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem, they plundered the temple and burned it to the ground (see 2 Kings 25:1–10; 2 Chronicles 36:17–19). How do you think you might have felt if you had been among the Jews who witnessed this? (see Psalm 137). Notice how the Jews felt, decades later, when they were allowed to return and rebuild the temple (see Ezra 3:8–13; 6:16–22). Ponder your own feelings about the temple. Why are temples a source of joy? How can you demonstrate your gratitude to the Lord for temples?

For modern examples of rejoicing at the building of temples, see the videos “Practice, Celebration, Dedication: Temple Blessings in El Salvador” and “The Laie Hawaii Temple Youth Cultural Celebration” (ChurchofJesusChrist.org).

family walking on temple grounds

The temple can be a source of joy in our lives.

Ezra 4–6; Nehemiah 2; 46

I can help the work of God advance despite opposition.

The Lord’s work rarely goes unopposed, and this was certainly true of the efforts led by Zerubbabel and Nehemiah. In both cases, the “adversaries of Judah” (Ezra 4:1) were Samaritans—descendants of Israelites who had mixed with the Gentiles. Reading about their opposition to building the temple (see Ezra 4–6) might lead you to ponder the opposition God’s work faces today and how you might respond when opposition comes.

Similarly, reading about Nehemiah’s work repairing Jerusalem’s walls (see Nehemiah 2; 46) might cause you to reflect on work that God wants you to do. What do you learn from Nehemiah’s example?

See also Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “We Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 59–62.

Ezra 7; Nehemiah 8

I am blessed when I study the scriptures.

Even after the temple was rebuilt, the people of Jerusalem struggled spiritually, in part because, for generations, they had limited access to “the book of the law of Moses” (Nehemiah 8:1). Ezra the scribe received permission from the king of Persia to go to Jerusalem, where he “brought the law before the congregation” (Nehemiah 8:2). How can you follow Ezra’s example as described in Ezra 7:10? As you read Nehemiah 8, which gives the account of Ezra reading the law to the people, what thoughts do you have about the power of the word of God in your life?

See also Teachings: Ezra Taft Benson, 115–24.

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Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening

Ezra 3:8–13; 6:16–22.How did the Jews show their joy for the temple as it was being rebuilt and then as it was dedicated? What are we doing to show our joy for the temple? Perhaps your family could look at pictures of temples and talk about how temples bring you joy (see temples.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).

Ezra 7:6, 9–10, 27–28.Several times in these verses, Ezra wrote that the hand of the Lord was upon him as he traveled to Jerusalem. What might this phrase mean? How have we felt the Lord’s hand upon us? Perhaps family members could share examples from their lives.

Nehemiah 2; 46.The story of Nehemiah can inspire family members when they face opposition as they do “a great work” (Nehemiah 6:3). Family members could build a wall from objects you have around your home as you read together key passages (such as Nehemiah 2:17–20; 4:13–18; 6:1–3). What do we learn from Nehemiah about facing opposition? What great work does the Lord want us to do? How has the Lord strengthened us to overcome opposition to this work?

Nehemiah 8:1–12.In Nehemiah 8, Ezra read the law of Moses to a people who were eager to hear God’s word. Reading verses 1–12 could help deepen your family’s appreciation for the word of God. How did the people feel about God’s law? How can we help each other “understand the reading”? (verse 8).

For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.

Suggested song: “I Love to See the Temple,” Children’s Songbook, 95.

Improving Our Teaching

Share scriptures as a family. During your family scripture study, allow family members to share passages from their personal study that are particularly meaningful to them.

Ezra reading scriptures to people

Illustration of Ezra reading scriptures to the people at Jerusalem, by H. Willard Ortlip, © Providence Collection/licensed from goodsalt.com