Highlights In Today's Reading:
Ezra plans a trip to the Holy Land. Look who Ezra takes with him. Ezra proclaims a fast seeking the Lord's protection (8:21-22). We see joy as great treasures are replaced in the Temple. About 60 years after the Temple was built, the people are again involved in evil abominations. How does Ezra react (9:3-6)?
Ezra was led of God to take volunteers on a long journey from Babylon to Jerusalem with — perhaps six thousand men, women, and children — and precious invaluable metals. These were items confiscated by Nebuchadnezzar that were sacred in Solomon's Temple worship. They travelled over a road where there were many bandits and robbers ready to murder people for even a little money.
The terms of the king's commission to Ezra left no doubt that if Ezra had requested a military escort, the request would readily have been granted. But he did not ask the king for a protective military guard. During this journey they would face many dangers and difficulties, including possible attacks by nomadic robbers. Furthermore, Ezra said to those who were with him that God could protect and provide for His people. It is recorded that Ezra proclaimed a fast there . . . that we might afflict (humble) ourselves before our God, to seek of Him a right way. . . . I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers . . . to help us against the enemy . . . 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 proclaimed a time of fasting before God and prayed to be preserved unharmed. Ezra and his followers were faced with a journey of about 800 to 1,000 miles, which would take at least four months after leaving Babylon (7:8-9; 8:31).
Ezra believed that God would protect them, but he did not substitute faith for prayer and fasting. The people of God are a "peculiar people" who have chosen to worship Him. But this was overlooked as though not important. It was reported that some of the people . . . priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves (9:1) but were living sinful lives like the idol-worshipping Caananites. Every Christian should realize the vital importance of prayer and not take God's protection and blessings for granted. Be . . . doers of the Word, and not hearers only (James 1:22).
Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His Commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight (I John 3:21-22).
Thought for Today:
Becoming like the world brings many problems in a Christian's life, but most importantly it dishonors our God.
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 (Luke 13:34; 19:41).
8:29 chambers => storerooms; 9:3 mantle => robe; 9:7 confusion of face => confessing to be a Christian but living like the world, Come out from among them, and be ye separate (II Cor 6:17); 9:8 a nail in His Holy Place => a secure hold on the promised land; 9:12 wealth => well-being.
Pray for Arabic, English, and Spanish International Shortwave Radio Broadcasts sponsored by Mrs. Judy Stryd • Bible Pathway Printer: Ambrose Printing Staff, Nashville TN • Government Official: Gov. Linda Lingle (HI) • Country: Seychelles (79,000) a group of islands in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and India • Major languages: English and French • Religious freedom • 89% Roman Catholic; 8% Protestant • Prayer Suggestion: Make everything you do a matter of prayer (I Thessalonians 5:17).
Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 6
Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Corinthians 1:5