The Missing Ingredient.
“Ezra … arrived at Jerusalem on August 4, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the Law of the Lord and to teach those decrees and regulations to the people of Israel.” – Ezra 7:9-10 NLT
God had miraculously arranged for the people to be given a royal decree, not only allowing them to return to Jerusalem to rebuilt the Temple and restore Jerusalem, but He had made sure they had the resources necessary to complete the task. They had all the material needed to build, the people to do the work, and God had take care of the constant harrassment of their enemies. But one thing was missing. They had plenty of people, gold, silver, wood, and hours in the day to accomplish the work. But God knew that without His Law, they would end up right back in the same condition that resulted in their captivity in the first place. So God raised up Ezra, “a scribe who was well-versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel, had given to the people of Israel” (Ezra 7:6 NLT). As a Scribe, Ezra was intimately familiar with the Law of Moses, given by God to the people of Israel back on Mount Sinai. A span of 58 years will take place after the events recorded in chapter six end and Ezra arrives in Jerusalem from Babylon in chapter seven. It has been 80 years since the first wave of exiles returned. God has been watching and waiting. He has been raising up the right man to bring the one ingredient the nation needed most. Ezra would not have even been born with the first exiles returned. Ezra was a direct descendant of Aaron, the high priest. He had a spiritual heritage and a godly upbringing that made him perfect for the job for which God assigned him.
The Persian king, Artaxerxes, issued a royal decree commissioning Ezra to go to Jerusalem and conduct an official inquiry into the situation there “based on your God’s law, which is in your hand” (Ezra 7:14 NLT). This pagan king officially ordered Ezra “to use the wisdom your God has given you to appoint magistrates and judges who know your God’s laws to given all the people of in the province west of the Euphrates River. Teach the law to anyone who does not know it. Anyone who refuses to obey the law of your God and the law of the king will be punished immediately, either by death, banishment, confiscation or goods, or imprisonment” (Ezra 7:26 NLT). Once again, God had sovereignly ordained His will to be done through the power and position of an ungodly king. This monarch effectively gave Ezra the authority to conduct a spiritual revival in the land of Israel.
Knowing he was being sent by God didn’t prevent Ezra from praying for God’s hand of mercy and protection as they made the journey home. He called a fast and ordered the people to humble themselves before God, praying for safe journey and protection along the way. They were carrying large amounts of gold and silver, and were traveling a very long distance through potentially dangerous conditions accompanied by women and children. Ezra had refused to request an armed escort from the king, but had chosen to trust God instead. So after prayerful preparation, they set off. It would be four months before they arrived in Jerusalem. But they arrived unharmed with every ounce of silver and gold accounted for. Ezra acknowledged that it was God who had protected them along the way, saving them from their enemies and bandits along the way. They celebrated their safe arrival with sacrifices. Then the real work began. The law of God had to be given and the applied. It was not going to be easy. But it was necessary.
Father, how often we leave out the key ingredient for our own success. We take on all kinds of responsibilities and tackle all kinds of task without consulting Your Word and asking about Your will in the matter. The people of God were doing the will of God, but had neglected the law of God. As a result, they were doing God-ordained tasks all the while they were living in open disobedience to Your revealed will. Forgive us for doing the same thing today. Never let us neglect Your Word and attempt to do Your will our way. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men