Read Ezra 8
Ezra documented the journey. The priests were entrusted with the treasure (Ezra 8:24-30,33-34). Discover the Source of strength to stand against sin (9:6-14).
Ezra was led of God to take volunteers on the long journey from Babylon to Jerusalem with perhaps 6,000 men, women, and children. They traveled over a road where there were many bandits and robbers ready to murder people for even a little money. They took with them precious metals that had been confiscated by Nebuchadnezzar before the captivity — sacred items that had been sacred in Solomon's Temple.
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 of about 900 miles (Ezra 7:8-9) they would face many dangers and difficulties, including possible attacks by nomadic robbers (8:31). 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 and horsement 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 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 worship Him. But some of the people did not take this privilege seriously. It was reported that the people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves (9:1) but were living sinful lives like the idol-worshipping Caananites. 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, when we continue to read the Word of God our faith becomes more firmly grounded in His promises and less affected by outward circumstances.
All Christians should realize the vital importance of Bible reading and prayer and not take the protection and blessings of God for granted. Be . . . doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves (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:
As we live by faith, we need not fear the outcome of our circumstances.
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. As the people of God, we are to come out from among them, and be . . . 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 International Broadcasts sponsored by Thursday Morning Prayer • Bible Pathway Printer: Ambrose Printing Staff, Nashville TN • Government Officials: Gov. Linda Lingle (HI) and Sen. Mike Lee (UT) • Country: Jamaica (3 million) in the West Indies • Major languages: English and Creole • Religious freedom • 78% Protestant; 10% Roman Catholic; 7% Afro-American spiritist • Prayer Suggestion: Believe that what God promises, He will bring to pass (Gen. 15:1-6 & 21:1-3).
Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 6
Memory Verse for the Week: John 15:12