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
Because Ezra knew the Scriptures, he decided to be responsible for leading perhaps five thousand men, women, and children on the treacherous, 800-mile journey from Babylon to Jerusalem. Added to this, the king had given him the responsibility for transporting priceless treasures that had been taken from the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar more than 70 years earlier (Ezra 8:25). Ezra was also aware of the danger of bandits who could murder and plunder. The people would face physical and emotional hardships as well.
It would have been easier to remain in Babylon and just pray for the people in Jerusalem. But Ezra decided to do what he could. Furthermore, he did not ask the king for a protective military guard. Instead, he asked all the people to pray for guidance as well as protection from harm. In doing this, Ezra put his confidence in God that the journey would be successful (8:21-22).
Ezra and all his followers arrived safely in Jerusalem about four months after leaving Babylon (7:8-9; 8:31). He was grief stricken upon hearing about the low moral and spiritual state of affairs in Jerusalem since the Temple had been rebuilt (9:1). He did not say: "I don't want to be responsible, so I'll leave it to someone else." Instead, he became involved by calling for an assembly of all the people (9:4). At the evening sacrifice, he fell on his knees, spread out his hands to the Lord, and prayed. Since these people were the people of God, he identified with them and confessed to God: We have ignored Your Commandments and sinned against You (9:6-10). What all of us eventually learn is that, to have peace of mind, we need to desire to please God.
When the Word of God is neglected, we too need to be as concerned as Ezra. Abraham, our spiritual father, was justified by works when he was willing to offer his son Isaac on the altar. By his example, we see how faith produces works, and by works faith is made perfect (James 2:21-22).
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 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 Bible Pathway Prayer Partners · BPM Staff: Jé French · Country: Dominican Republic (8 million) in the West Indies, occupying the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola · Major language: Spanish · Religious freedom · 96% Roman Catholic (many are spiritists); 2% Protestant; 1% Afro-American spiritist · Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord to forgive you of all ill will, grudges, or hatred you may hold in your heart toward another person (Matthew 6:14-15).
Optional Reading: II Corinthians 6
Memory Verse for the Week: II Timothy 2:15