Ezra 4:24-6:22; 1 Corinthians 3:5-23; Psalm 29:1-11; Proverbs 20:26-27
Remember my post from a couple of days ago? When I needed the reminder to wait for the Lord, to be strong, to take heart (Ps. 27:14)? Where God promises to deliver us as we wait for him (Pr. 20:22)? Well, today's reading in Ezra shows us the waiting and delivering in action big-time!
The book of Ezra falls into three chunks. The first chunk, made of chapters 1-3, tells how the exiles returned to Israel - it's the why, the who, and the initial actions of the remnant. The last portion (Ch. 7-10) has two emphases: Ezra's journey and arrival in Israel, and then his actions regarding the unfaithfulness of the exiles. Both the first and last sections deal with the internal workings (both failures and successes) of the returned people. These middle chapters in Ezra (Ch. 4-5-6), however, are more externally-directed. The remnant are under attack from outside forces and thus require the intervention of outside forces to move forward.
Although we read yesterday about the successful letter-writing campaign to stop the building of Jerusalem, we see even more intimidation in today's reading. Don't you just feel the adrenaline rush of "Who authorized you to rebuild?" and "What are the names?" (Ez. 5:3-4)? The administrators in Trans-Euphrates have elevated bullying to an art form! Another letter goes out, but this time the return correspondence is firmly to the exiles' benefit. Chapter 6 is their vindication. They waited for the Lord, and while they waited, they were faithful. They kept building; they kept trusting.
And God delivered. The people of Israel "[did] not say, "[We'll] pay you back for this wrong!" (Pr. 20:22). Through the prompting of God, King Darius permanently (see Ez. 6:11) and definitively rules in favor of the rebuilding of Jerusalem and compels the same administrators to support the construction logistically (vs. 6-7) and financially (vs. 8-9). Talk about a turnaround!
I've never before seen the connection between today's reading and the wisdom literature portion of our reading on 8/5. It staggered me today as I read. I am so grateful for God's continued goodness as he reveals new beauty in Scripture. This is why I read The One Year Bible year after year.
- Sarah Marsh
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