Read Ezra 8 -- 9
In Today's Reading:
Genealogy of Ezra's companions; Ezra proclaims a fast; treasures delivered to the priests; Ezra's prayer and confession.
Verse for Today:
Then I (Ezra) proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of Him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek Him (8:21-22).
Ezra was responsible for leading about 1,800 men plus their wives and children, a total of perhaps five thousand Israelite men, women, and children, on the treacherous 600to 800-mile journey from Babylon to Jerusalem. Ezra was also responsible for the priceless treasures, the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering of the House of our God, which the king, and his counsellors, and his lords, and all Israel . . . had offered (Ezra 8:25). He was keenly aware of the danger of bandits who would murder people for their possessions or even for a little food. Ezra would also face physical and emotional hardships among his followers. But he did not ask the king for a protective military guard, rather he chose to trust in God to protect him.
Ezra and all his followers arrived safely in Jerusalem about four months after leaving Babylon (Ezra 7:8-9; 8:31,32). He was grief stricken upon hearing about the moral and spiritual condition that had developed in Jerusalem since the Temple had been rebuilt. Ezra was told by the princes that the people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations. . . . the princes and rulers [have] been [first] in their trespass (9:1-2). He did not give up and go home, but assembled . . . every one who trembled at the words of the God of Israel (9:4). At the evening sacrifice, Ezra fell on his knees and spread out his hands to the Lord, and prayed: I am ashamed . . . for our iniquities are increased. . . . We have forsaken [Your] Commandments (9:6,10). He continued to confess how the Israelites had become involved with the filthiness of the (Canaanite) people . . . with their abominations (9:11; see Deuteronomy 29:16-18).
Ezra illustrates the absolute accuracy of the promises of God, which should settle forever any question as to whether God is able to protect and provide for His children who seek to please Him. All who have accepted Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives are under the loving care of our Heavenly Father, and nothing can touch us except with His permission. Evil things do occur in the lives of godly people, but, it is by the sovereignty of our Creator that they take place. A bitter attitude against anyone will disappear when we recognize the unfailing presence and power of God to make all things work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28).
When we neglect reading our Bible, the inspired Word of God, it becomes much easier to allow our self-will and our emotions to rule our lives. But, they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with affection and lusts (Galatians 5:24).
By Ezra, who mourned over the sins of the people of Jerusalem (Ezra 9:5). Twice it is recorded that, when Jesus looked upon Jerusalem, He also mourned for the people. When He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it. . . . O Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! (Luke 19:41; 13:34).
8:29 chambers = rooms; 9:3 mantle = robe; 9:7 confusion of face = open shame; 9:8 a nail in His Holy Place = a secure hold on the Promised Land; 9:12 wealth = well-being.
Pray for one another · Country: Guinea-Bissau (1 million) on the western coast of Africa · Major languages: Portuguese and Criolo · Religious freedom · 51% animist; 42% Muslim; 6% Roman Catholic; .7% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Rejoice over and pray for those who share the Good News (Nahum 1:15).
Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 6
Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Timothy 2:15