Ezra 7:1-8:20; 1 Corinthians 4:1-21; Psalm 30:1-12; Proverbs 20:28-30
Do you have any of those “God stories” where you tell them and there’s no doubt that the hand of God brought something miraculous about? There was nothing you could point to that would attribute it to human working or intervention. It was purely just a God thing. Today’s reading in Ezra 7 is a story just like that. It confirms that God is the God of all and he will do whatever he plans and he will carry it out, regardless of man’s aiding or attempting to hinder that plan.
I am just amazed that this new King Artaxerxes would write the kind of letter he did and give the kind of freedom he did to these Israelite captives. We read in Ezra 7:6 that "the hand of the Lord his God was upon him [Ezra],” and “the King granted everything he asked for.” Just a few chapters before, the whole reconstruction of the temple was shut down because the Israelites were deemed rebellious and untrustworthy. And now, the king is sending them off with his blessing and his money!
God is at work. God is going to do what he is going to do. God changes the hearts of all mankind, whether or not they even acknowledge him as God. He never forgets his faithful remnant.
This gives me great comfort. It takes the pressure off us to make things happen. God is always the initiator of great works. He starts them and he carries them out. It is his good work. But we too have a responsibility. Just as Ezra recognized he had a great responsibility because the hand of the Lord was upon him, we too should take courage and join God in his great works.
We can either be a part of this great plan he is carrying out, or we can sit on the side and miss out. It does often take a great deal of courage to join him; may he grant that to us.
Where is God already moving the hearts of men towards his purposes? Who has been growing a soft heart towards him? How do you see him working around you in your everyday lives and in the world at large? Let’s join him. Let’s be like Ezra, well-versed and devoted to the ways of the Lord, calling others to join us as we move forward in His good works.
- Mary Matthias
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