Ezra chapter 6 begins with Darius' reply to the Persian governor's letter in regards to the Jews having authority to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. His reply was a pretty strong yes. Not only did they have the authority to rebuild it, but he also commanded that the project be funded from the royal treasury. If there was any thought of someone wishing to prevent this from happening, verse 11 would take care of that notion - "I decree that if anyone changes this edict, a beam is to be pulled from his house and he is to be lifted up and impaled on it. And for this crime his house is to be made a pile of rubble." Certainly a strong punishment for attempting to stall the rebuilding process.
Despite strong words of likely punishments, typically people don't like to be told what to do, especially if it does not fit into our own agenda. If in a situation like that, our backs would be arched like a cat and our tails would be puffed out to twice the size. In this particular situation, God had his hand in it. "the Lord had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria, so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel." (verse 22b)
This verse reminded me of the power that God has in His ability to change others and His ability to soften their hearts. Do I give God access to all areas of my life when facing trials? Or do I leave Him on the bench and attempt to accomplish things on my own?
I liked Ezra 7:10 - "For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel." Ezra illustrates some important aspects of a true follower of God. He was devoted not to himself, but to the Law of the Lord. Something we should strive for and I believe we all are by participating in this blog.
What I enjoyed reading in Ezra chapter 8 was not so much the genealogy, but that Ezra was a normal human too. Despite his devotion to God, he still had some fear in regards to their journey to Jerusalem. Verse 22 says, " I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king. "The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him."
Even though Ezra had a strong faith in God and was devoted to Him, it does not mean that he did not feel the need to handle difficult situations on his own. He did, however, show his ability in looking past his fear and realizing where his strength comes from. Ezra relied on his faith in God and made things right with Him by fasting and praying for three days calling upon Him to protect their journey.
Today's reading in Ezra showed me that God is a caring God, who will accomplish His will in spite of opposition, and whose protection in our daily lives is all we need to make it through each day.
In our NT reading, Paul tells us in verse 16 that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,".
Through prophets and apostles, God interprets past events and accurately predicts future ones. This makes the Bible trustworthy, eternally fixed, perfect and complete, and a sure guide for life, as it makes us wise for salvation!
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezra 9-10; 2 Timothy 4