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Bible Pathways - June 4, 2006

Read Ezra 8

In Today's Reading:

Genealogy of Ezra's companions; Ezra proclaims a fast; treasures delivered to the priests; Ezra's prayer and confession

Ezra knew the Scriptures and decided to be responsible for leading perhaps five thousand men, women, and children on the treacherous, possibly 800-mile journey from Babylon to Jerusalem. Added to this was the responsibility for priceless treasures of silver . . . gold, and the vessels . . . of the House of our God, which the king . . . had offered (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, Ezra did not ask the king for a protective military guard; rather 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 and all his followers arrived safely in Jerusalem about four months after leaving Babylon (7:8-9; 8:31). However, Ezra was grief stricken upon hearing about the low moral and spiritual state of affairs 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 (detestable practices) (9:1). Again, he did not say: "It's not my problem, so I'll leave it up to someone else." Instead, he became involved and every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel assembled before him (9:4). At the evening sacrifice, he fell on his knees and spread out his hands to the Lord, and prayed: O my God, I am ashamed . . . for our iniquities . . . . for we have forsaken Thy Commandments (9:6,10).

When the Word of God is neglected, we too need to be as concerned as Ezra. Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how . . . by works was faith made perfect (James 2:21-22).

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 (Luke 19:41; 13:34).

Word Studies:

8:29 chambers =/i> storerooms; 9:3 mantle =/i> robe; 9:7 confusion of face =/i> open shame; 9:8 a nail in His Holy Place =/i> a secure hold on the promised land; 9:12 wealth =/i> well-being.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for Country: Vietnam (77 million) in Southeast Asia · Major languages: Vietnamese and French · Very strict control of Christians in the North; the South has been more lenient but is getting tighter · 65% Buddhist and Buddhist sects; 7% Roman Catholic; 4% belief in evil spirits and ancestor worship; .4% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: During times of trouble, pray constantly and ask for patience (Romans 12:12).

Optional Reading: II Corinthians 6

Memory Verse for the Week: Job 23:12

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