Church and state. This is a popular phrase and it typically denotes the concept that the religious and political powers in society should be distinct. But we see in the contemporaries of Ezra and Nehemiah the perfect union of the moral and spiritual leadership of Ezra with the political and governmental leadership of Nehemiah.
Ezra descends from the lineage of Aaron. He is completely devoted to understanding God’s word. He was a priest and a scribe skilled in the law. He is sent by King Darius to fulfil all that the God of the Israelites wishes to establish back in Jerusalem.
But upon his arrival he finds Israel in total moral laxity. The Israelites had already intermarried with the foreign nations and at this Ezra was distraught and prayed to God on behalf of Israel. He called an assembly and urged the people to return back to the Lord and His ways. The Israelites leaders who had intermarried made a covenant to send away their foreign partners and pay their sin debt with sin offerings. Ezra spearheaded the spiritual and moral leadership in Israel.
Nehemiah was a contemporary also at this time. He was a cupbearer to Artaxerxes and on hearing that the walls of Israel had not been built up, full of conviction he asked the king for permission to return to Israel and help rebuild the city. Once there Nehemiah stood firm on his mission to help Israel rebuild the city in spite of all the opposition arising from neighbouring nations. And impressively rebuilt the walls within 52 days. Showing that when both political will is mixed with moral and spiritual leadership restoration and development can occur.