I finished reading the book of Ezra today. His writing style was a bit like journaling. I especially appreciated how he showed honest glimpses of his heart, his earnestness, and his insecurities.
“Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to adorn the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem, and has extended lovingkindness to me before the king and his counselors and before all the king’s mighty princes. Thus I was strengthened according to the hand of the LORD my God upon me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.” ~ Ezra 7:27-28
Ezra had been granted permission to lead a large group of exiles from Babylon back to Jerusalem. The people of Judah had spent over 70 years as strangers in a foreign land, and now the Persian king was allowing them to go back to their homeland to rebuild the Temple. A group had gone on before them, and Ezra’s group would be traveling the nearly 900 miles to join them and continue the work.
“Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from Him a safe journey for us, our little ones, and all our possessions. For I was ashamed to request from the king troops and horsemen to protect us from the enemy on the way, because we had said to the king, ‘The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him.’ So we fasted and sought our God concerning this matter, and He listened to our entreaty.” ~ Ezra 8:21-23
How often do we proclaim big things about our God- and they are true!- but then are afraid that perhaps He won’t do what we have said and believed He will do? I know my God can do anything and all things, but will He choose to do this or that in this situation?
Ezra believed in God and in God’s power, and then he sheepishly admitted he was afraid to ask for help from the king because he had talked big about God and His power. So he and the people earnestly prayed that God would meet their need for protection on the journey ahead of them.
Isn’t that what God wants from us: to depend upon Him, and not people, to meet our needs?
“Then we journeyed from the river Ahava on the twelfth of the first month to go to Jerusalem; and the hand of our God was over us, and He delivered us from the hand of the enemy and the ambushes by the way.” ~ Ezra 8:31
I would love to know more about this! What ambushes?? How did God deliver them?? But apparently God decided we didn’t need to know the details, just that He had delivered His people and answered their prayers. Perhaps I will question Ezra about the details once we meet in heaven!
We are told they were traveling with the equivalent of over $20 million in gold and silver in today’s dollars, and over two thousand men, women and children. And God delivered them “from the hand of the enemy and the ambushes by the way”.
This return to Jerusalem was prophesied, orchestrated, and protected by God. It was His will that they safely make it back to the land of promise.
When we seek to travel the road that God has purposed for us, He will protect and provide for us, also. I don’t always know how, but I know He will, for He has promised.
“Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.” ~ Psalm 16:1 (KJV)
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)
“Some [trust] in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” ~ Psalm 20:7 (KJV)
“And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.” ~ Psalm 37:40 (KJV)
“In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.” ~ Psalm 56:11 (KJV)
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:7 (KJV)
“Trust in him at all times; [ye] people, pour out your heart before him: God [is] a refuge for us.” ~ Psalm 62:8 (KJV)
“Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, [shall he] not much more [clothe] you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof.” ~ Matthew 6:30-34 (KJV)
God knows what we need. And if we are walking on this journey with Him, He will provide.