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Highlights In Today's Reading:
Ezra documents the journey. The priests are entrusted with the treasure (8:24-30,33-34). Sin revealed (9:1-2). Discover the Source of strength to stand against sin (9:6-14).
Ezra led about 1,800 men, plus their families — a total of perhaps six thousand men, women, and children — on the about-900-mile treacherous journey from Babylon to Jerusalem. Added to this responsibility was the concern 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 counsellers, and his lords, and all Israel . . . had offered (8:25). Ezra was aware of the dangerous threat of bandits who were ready to murder for their possessions or even a little food. He would also face physical and emotional hardships among his followers. So Ezra proclaimed a fast . . . that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of Him a right way for us . . . our little ones, and . . . our substance. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers (to protect us) . . . 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).
We are all under the loving care of the hand of our Father (John 10:29) and nothing can touch us except with His permission. Since this is true, outbursts of fright, complaint, or anger over our circumstances are evidences of our failure to recognize the presence and power of the Lord.
Ezra was grief stricken at the moral and spiritual condition that had developed in Jerusalem since the Temple had been rebuilt under Zerubbabel, Haggai, and Zechariah. He recorded: The people of Israel . . . have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations (Ezra 9:1). He did not give up and go home, but assembled . . . every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel (9:4). He fell on his knees, spread out his hands to the Lord, and prayed: I am ashamed . . . for our iniquities are increased. . . . we have forsaken Thy Commandments (9:6,10).
Our sensitivity to sin is dulled when we drift away from the inspired Word of God, and it becomes much easier to follow the path of popular opinion. But, as we continue to read the Word of God, our faith becomes more firmly grounded in His promises and less affected by outward circumstances.
Our Heavenly Father protested to His prophet: My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the Fountain of Living Waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water (Jer. 2:13)
Thought for Today:
Jesus said: Ye shall be hated of all men for My Name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved (Matt. 10:22).
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 = shame, confessing to following God 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 English International Shortwave Broadcasts sponsored by Lt. Col. Walter & Penelope Swanson and Mr. & Mrs. Larry Sullivan • Radio Sri Lanka Broadcasts sponsored by Nettie McKee • Staff: Al Joslyn • Government Official: Gov. Linda Lingle (HI) • Country: North Korea (22.2 million) in northeastern Asia • Major language: Korean • Violent oppression against all religions • 68% atheist; 15% Ch'ondogyo; 14% Other Traditional; 2% Buddhist; 1% Christian • Prayer Suggestion: Pray for those who are in adverse circumstances (Heb. 13:3).
Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 6
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 6:31