Read Ezra 8 -- 9
Ezra was responsible for leading about 1,800 men, plus their wives and children, a total of perhaps five thousand men, women, and children, on the treacherous 800-mile journey from Babylon to Jerusalem. Added to this were 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). Ezra was keenly aware of the danger of bandits who would murder people for their possessions or even for a little food. He would also face physical and emotional hardships among his followers. But Ezra did not ask the king for a protective military guard, rather he chose to trust in the protection of God. It is recorded that 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 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. We are all under the loving care of our Father, and nothing can touch us except with His permission. The sin of man may originate an evil action against a Christian and therefore the thing itself cannot be said to be good; however, it is by the Sovereignty of our Creator that all things work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28). Outbursts of fright or panic are the result of our failure to recognize the presence and power of the Lord.
Ezra and all his followers arrived safely in Jerusalem about four months after leaving Babylon (Ezra 7:8-9; 8:31). Ezra 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: 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 (9:1). 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, he 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). Not only had the Israelites disobeyed God in marrying unbelieving women, but they were actually taking part in their idol worship.
Our sensitivity to sin is dulled when we drift away from the inspired Word of God; and it then becomes much easier to follow the path of popular opinion. But, they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24).
Christ Portrayed: 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 your children together, as a hen does gather her brood under her wings, and you would not! (Luke 19:41; 13:34).
Word Studies: 8:29 chambers means storerooms; 8:36 the river means Euphrates River; 9:3 mantle means robe; 9:7 confusion of face means open shame; 9:8 a nail in His Holy Place means a secure hold on the Promised Land; 9:12 wealth means well-being.
BPM Staff: Letha Hash · Pray for the Bible Pathway Internet Outreach and the Bible Pathway devotions in Arabic, English, French, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Norwegian, Russian, and Spanish that are now online on our website. Let friends and missionaries overseas know that the devotional commentary is now available in these languages · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast in honor of J.L. Williams, New Directs, Intl. · Country: Latvia (3 million) eastern coast of Baltic Sea in northeastern Europe · Major languages: Latvian and Russian · Religious freedom · 20% Protestant; 20% Roman Catholic; 15% Russian Orthodox; 1% Jewish · Prayer Suggestion: Know that the Lord is loving and merciful to His children (Jeremiah 31:9).
Optional Reading: II Corinthians 6
Memory Verse for the Week: II Timothy 2:15