July 19 2017
So we fasted and pleaded with our God about this, and He granted our request. Ezra 8:23
LET IT GLOW
Days of delay. It took 5 months in the process of my husband being called as pastor of our current church. It began with a phone call whenever we lived in West Virginia, where he served as pastor. Then we visited our home church, where he preached in view of a call to our current church's pulpit committee. That was a long wait, days of delay. Ezra had some days of delay of his journey to Jerusalem. Want to know why? continue reading, my friend.
The physical preparations for the journey had been made-the king's letter of support, offerings, 25 tons of silver and 4 tons of gold, items recovered which were from the first Temple, relatives of the first group returnees.
In verse 1-14, we find a list of those returning and the number of men in their family.
Liberty Bible Commentary give us several important facts to consider from this list:
- Returnees under Zerubbabel had left parts of heir families and relatives behind in Babylon.
- There are 12 families mentioned in this list. This is implied to represent the 12 tribes of Israel.
- There was a total of 1,496 males and 15 heads who returned with Ezra.
Now the other preparations for the journey was that of spiritual provisions. Ezra was described as a man wholly committed to the LORD and His Word; a man sent on a mission. He was commissioned by King Artaxerxes to teach the Law of Moses to the Jewish people in Jerusalem, execute justice in the land as he appointed magistrates and judges, and oversee the royal treasury there.
Ezra urged the people to prepare themselves for the journey. He challenged the Jews to seek the Lord through prayer and fasting:
- to seek God for a safe trip, for His guidance and protection;
- to seek God because the journey was long (900 miles), demanding, and dangerous, especially with children present. Bandits were common along the road. Keep in mind it took them 4 months to reach Jerusalem.
- because Ezra felt uneasy asking the king for a military escort. It he had, then the king would doubt God's ability to provide.
Do we pray before we attempt our tasks? God knows exactly what we need. Even when we encounter suffering and hardships, God does not forsake us, nor leave us alone.
LET IT GROW
Ezra had one problem-not one single Levites volunteered to go with him to Jerusalem. They were needed to assist the priests in the Temple. Apparently, they did not want to leave the comfort, prosperity, and success they achieved in Babylon. (However, this new generation had not seen Jerusalem, the Temple, nor the Promise Land.)
So Ezra enlisted:
- three family heads or leader to help him recruit, who were from two priestly families of Phinehas and Ithamar, named Gershom and Daniel;
- Hattush was from the royal line of David, and a descendant of the family of Shechamah;
- those 3 special family head recruited a large number of people from12 major families. (verse 3-14)
- and they all assembled at the Ahava Canal;
- a special delegation to recruit Levites, led by Iddo, who must have lived in the city where the school of Levies was located;
- recruitment delayed the trip by 12 days, as it took 3 days to recruit the Levites (verse 15) and the rest in fasting (verse 21).
Laborers are needed in church and kingdom work. People around us are lost and without hope, separated from God. They do not know salvation and hope comes though Jesus Christ. Are we being a strong witness of the mercy and help we receive through our hardships?
LET IT GO
Don't delay in obeying God.
Trust His purpose in asking us to do certain things.
Share the hope of Jesus that is in my heart.
Tell of His wonderful salvation.